My smartphone is never more than two feet away from me these days, it seems. I use it for everything: grocery lists, online shopping, managing notes and to-dos, and of course, I often fall prey to the time-sucking black hole that is Facebook.
This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
It seems like there’s an app to help with everything now and they’re more useful than ever. If you have a goal you want to achieve in 2018, there’s definitely an app to help you achieve it. Here’s a complete list of all the apps you need on your iPhone or Android to live your best life in 2018.
Organize Your Life
Save Notes, Track the Items on Your To-Do List, and Keep Important Information in One Place
Having Evernote on your phone is like walking around at all times with a notepad and a file folder. You can create unlimited notes, organize these notes into Notebooks, and easily search for information later. You can also create To-Do lists and link from that list to other Evernote notes or websites on the Internet. You can save PDFs you’ve downloaded to Evernote and clip articles from the web to save for later.
I use Evernote for almost everything: I keep notes for future Midlife Rambler articles, save important information that I need to refer to often, and use it as a kind of dairy for jotting down thoughts when inspiration strikes.
The Free Basic version gives you all the most used Evernote features: searching within notes, syncing your notes across all your devices (phone, tablet and laptop), share notes with friends and save notes to view when offline. The Plus version lets you search and annotate PDFs, scan and business cards, and shows you content related to your current note. The Premium version offers features for groups that want to collaborate together.
If This, Then That (IFTTT)
Things Just Happen Automatically
Have you ever wished you could just automatically pin any Instagram picture you take to a Pinterest board? Or get an email when an article you’d like is published on the New York Times? How about tell Alexa to brew you a copy of coffee with your WeMo coffee maker? You can do all those things — and more — with IFTTT.
IFTTT takes all the apps you’ve been using and any Internet-enabled devices you have and connects them together. For example, using IFTTT I can tell Alexa to adjust the temperature on my Nest thermostat. You can create your own IFTTT “recipes” but there’s tons of useful pre-make templates. All you have to do is connect the services you use and choose what you want to do.
Keep All Your Travel Information in one Place
Google Trips is indispensable if you’re planning any kind of trip. It watches your gmail account for tickets and confirmation numbers and automatically stores all your trip info in one spot. It will suggest things to do on your trip and even map out suggested day trips. You can download all this information to your phone as well so you don’t even need to worry about being online.
Finally Get Your Photos Organized
Do you want to be able to show a stranger you just met that picture of your kid you took in 1993? Then you need Google Photos. You can easily backup all the photos on your computer. If you select “High Quality” backups, you can store all your photos for free. Google will upload any photos under 16MB at their original quality and downgrade large photos to 16MB. That quality is just fine for any prints you may want to make that are 8×10 or smaller. You can also choose to upload all your photos in the original quality but that counts against your Google Drive space (15GB free).
Once you’ve uploaded the photos to Google Drive, you can delete them off the original device if you’d like. Your photos will remain accessible in the cloud, not taking up your disk space unless you download it.
Google Photos has some basic editing tools and you can even make photo books right from the app, but I really love the search feature. You can search for seemingly anything and Google Photos will find it. For example, I just did a search for llamas and, in a flash, I can see every photo I’ve ever taken of a llama. (It turns out I’ve taken a surprisingly large number of llama photos.)
Sleep Like a Baby and Wake Up Refreshed
Sleep Cycle is another app that’s been around a while, but it’s still quite handy. You can place it on the nightstand next to you and it will check your movements through the microphone or you can place it under the sheet next to your head on the mattress and it will check your sleep with the accelerometer. It will even check to see if you’re snoring and record you if you are. If you use it as an alarm, it will try to wake you during a light point of your sleep cycle, eliminating the grogginess you feel when your alarm goes off in the middle of a dream.
You Want to Make Exercise a Priority
Aaptiv provides you with a seemingly unlimited set of workout opportunities. You never need to the do the same workout twice. When you select a workout, you get a coach in your ear telling you exactly what to do and great music to work out along with. I prefer listening to a coach rather than following along with a video. With an audio coach I can work out anywhere; for example, I’m loving the many walking workouts the app has. And I’m not awkwardly turning my neck to see the screen during the strength workouts. I’ve been using the app since the beginning of the year and I’m finding that my workouts are both more effective and more fun. That’s a win/win for me!
FREE 30-day trial and then a monthly subscription fee
Sign Up for Aaptiv now
Finally Get Your Finances in Order
Mint’s been around for a while, but it’s still my favorite app for keeping my finances in order. You can track account balances, pay bills, check your credit store, and even keep and track your budget. It’s easy to use and your information syncs between your phone, tablet and computer seamlessly so you always have the most up-to-date information no matter what device you’re using.
Read ALL the Magazines for One Low Price
I started using Texture this summer and I honestly don’t know why it took me so long. Texture offers the full digital edition of over 200 magazines including Glamour, Real Simple, Esquire, In Style, Us, The New Yorker and The Atlantic. I had digital and/or print subscriptions to several of these magazines and I’ve been able to cancel all the subscriptions and save a significant amount of money because I’m paying one low price each month for Texture. You can set certain magazines to download automatically so you can read them when you’re offline. At this point, I don’t think I could take a long trip with Texture. This is my favorite app by far; I probably look at it every day.
6.99/month with a 14-day free trial
Download the app here
Travel More for Less Money if you’re flexible about when and where
Hitlist lets you create a list of places that you want to go and then sends you alerts when there are deals on airfare to those places. You can’t enter a specific date range, but if you’re, say, hoping to go to Ireland sometime in 2018, Hitlist will alert you when the airfare is cheapest. If a deal is particularly good, Hitlist will let you know even if it’s not on your list.
Travel More for Less Money EVEN if you’re NOT flexible about when and where
Momondo searches all the flight databases for the location and date range you select and shows you the best fares. This is one of the few fare finder apps I’ve seen that includes Southwest so it gives a full picture of what’s available without having to search a bunch of sites.
When you find a flight you like, Momondo will take you to the carrier’s website to book directly with them. There’s no need to worry about handing over your credit card to some third-party site and trusting that nothing will go wrong.
Improve Your Mood
Reporter (iOS only)
Learn Everything You Can About Yourself
Reporter sends you a series of quizzes throughout the day and then creates charts to summarize your answers. For example, each morning it will ask you a series of questions about how you slept. Later, you can go back and view a chart showing how you slept each day for a period of time. It’s a great to track how much water you’re drinking, for instance, or how often you hang out with other people.
Learn to See the Glass as Half-Full
This recommendation comes courtesy of my sister who exclaimed, “Oh, you’ve got to include ThinkUp! That app is changing my life!” when I told her I was working on this blog post. I tried it for myself and completely agree. The app suggests several affirmations to focus on — or you can create your own — and makes it easy for you to record each affirmation in your own voice to listen to later. You can even add your favorite music! It also reminds you each day to spend time listening to your affirmations and suggests new ones to try.
According to the ThinkUp website, using your own voice and your own music makes the affirmations more powerful. Your brain understands it needs to listen to your voice and using the music you love the best ups your emotional state which makes you more receptive to changing your thoughts. I’m loving it and totally agree with my sister’s recommendation.
Companion (iOS Only)
Stop Worrying About Your College Student’s Safety (or at least worry a bit less)
If your college student needs to walk home or to a bus stop late at night, have them download the Companion app. Using the app, your student can contact a friend or parent to have that person follow the student’s path as they walk home. If your student starts feeling nervous, they can quickly contact the police or reach out to their friend. The app detects changes such as falling or running and sends an “Are you ok?” message to the student. If the student doesn’t answer within 15 seconds, the app will call 911 and turn the student’s phone into a loud alarm.
Get Out of the House and See Some Live Music
Bandsintown will scan the your music library, Facebook likes, Spotify, YouTube, and Soundcloud to determine the bands you enjoy and will alert you when they’re playing near you. You can even invite friends to go with you from within the app.
moreBeaute2 (iOS Only)
Look Amazing on Social Media
moreBeaute2 takes your unflattering selfie and turns it into a work of art by brightening and smoothing your skin. The default settings are pretty intense so I usually end up turning them way down, but it’s very handy for easily getting a flattering glow on your pictures.