Ever notice how much we rely on our smartphone these days from everything to scheduling to organizing to entertaining our lives these days? Back in the day, we would have to have a separate device, appliance or piece of technology to accomplish our tasks and keep our hobbies in check.
Remember all the gadgets we had to have around us just to keep us on time, organized, up to date on current events and entertained? This image is just one image that tells the tale of how technology and gadgets have been replaced on one piece that travels in our pocket or hand everywhere we go.
Now we use our smartphones to research, shop, purchase, plan and entertain us from music to audio books. I’ve put together a favorite list of mine that helps keep me entertained and sane. There are more I could list, but here is my top 10 (in no particular order).
Do you have a library account? If you do, then you need this app! Hoopla allows library patrons to download or stream media content free of charge! You can subscribe up to 6 different media sources. Hoopla provides digital books, audiobooks (my fave!), music and video.
This is such a great go to tool! For days when I am doing chores, running errands or traveling, I can download a book – I really enjoy the audiobooks – and escape.
Simply log into your log into your library account and search Hoolpa to see if your library offers this service. From there follow the set up and log in requirements. Finally, download the app onto your device and log into your account. Now you are ready to search books, music audiobooks and videos. You can borrow up to 10 titles in a month.
Again, I ask – Do you have a library account (if no, why not?!). The library offers so many free services, especially in this ever changing digital age. And Zinio is a digital platform to checkout magazines via your local library…for free!
On a weekend getaway or for the days relaxing by the pool, I enjoy catching up on the latest magazines. The whole range from family fun, Hollywood gossip, and food.
Zinio allows you to check out digital magazines to read from your personal device. I love to save this app for my iPad so I can keep the feel of the larger size, not my smaller screen. Then I can simply swipe page by page. And if I want to read up on an article? I can enlarge it to suit my eyes. I also screen shot ideas like food or ideas for around the house or for my family.
First you will need to log into your library account. Search for Zinio to see if your library offers this service. Set up an account with Zinio.
Important to know: When you want to search for magazines on Zinio, you will have to search in a web browser, not the app! Simply log into your Zinio account and you will see a screen similar to this:
You will have access to a drop down menu for different genres your library offers. You will see large thumbnails of the current magazine cover. Once you click into a magazine, you will also have access to a few back issues and here you can ‘checkout’ the magazine.
When you select check out, you will have an option to stream the magazine or to download it and keep browsing.
Now you are reading to head over and open your Zinio app! Select the ‘Read’ option and here you magazines will appear. The new ones will have to be downloaded from the cloud to your device. You will see the little icon below the magazine. Click on it and it will take a few minutes to complete the download.
Also, there is a feature of ‘Shop’ where you can set up subscriptions or purchase magazines from a much larger selection, but I’m much too frugal with my time and money, but it looks like a great service if this is more of your style.
Waze is a community and traffic based navigation app. Ever take off on your trip, following the navigational directions and next thing you are sitting in traffic? Well, Waze will look ahead for you at all the possible routes and take you the fastest way, avoiding accidents, back ups and anything that could delay you. You will even get updates while traveling along the interstate about a disabled vehicle along the side of the road!
How do they compile this information? From users in your community. One time while traveling with the Waze App open, we came upon road construction that we were not alerted to. While we were stopped, a message popped up “We notice you have been stopped a while”. We were given options to report back our lack of progress on the route. We clicked road construction and realized this info will be relayed on to the next user and they will be alerted and/or rerouted on a different route. While traveling, pop ups will appear that other users have alerted as hazards. You will have an option to thumbs up or down if the distraction or occurrence is still happening or if the hazard has cleared.
Also there is a fine selection of voices. I personally have opted with the Boy Band last trip. I mean, why not? It was a little comical being sung to ‘in 1000 ft, turn left”. On a recent trip the kids and I changed dad’s voice to Mr. T.
4. Street Food
Food trucks have been one of the greatest trends! I love exploring different eats and bites around town. But sometimes it’s hard to hear about a new food truck find until you see a friend check in with a photo of mouthwatering food. Some cities have a designated area where food trucks have to be, but in other towns, food trucks can park where they can find the best location. And sometimes they can move around. How do you keep up? Look in the App Store or Google Play with key words like ‘street food’ or ‘food truck’. You should find one for your city.
This is great way to keep up to date where your favorite food truck is. They will provide info weather they are open or closed, location and hours. And also a link to their menu. And if your lucky and know they can get busy, a way to call or message your order for pick up when you arrive.
There is both a map view (like above) or a list view. Both show food trucks that are currently open (green) or closed (red). Both have clickable links that will open to a page with more information about each business. The businesses can provide a description of the cuisine and detailed lists of times and locations of the truck. Additional info each business can provide are phone (perfect for those phone ahead orders for busy days and busy food trucks – no line waiting!), website with full menu and links to their other social media apps.
OK, there is really nothing must have about this – this is just purely for pleasure! We have a vacation coming up and it’s easy to get excited about it – to count down with the kids by the day, hour, minutes and second! Last day of school countdown!? Big birthday bash coming up? How many days to Christmas? You can choose from many stock photos ranging from all special occasions or simply choose from one of your own.
Have you ever been out with friends and spend time trying to split the bill? Some of you have cash and others have credit card and someone pulls out the calculator to divvy up the bill. Or you decide to go in on a gift for someone and everyone is pitching in $5 and you just don’t have cash on you at the moment. Better yet, get home from a great date night out and it’s time to pay the babysitter and…you have no cash! Yikes.
This app is a game changer!
Venmo is a mobile payment service that allows users to transfer money to those in their social network (P2P – Peer to Peer). It’s owned by PayPal (and uses same security and safety measures) and debits or credits your linked bank account.
Of course with any other electronic payment system, do your own research and only do what feels right for you. I would advise to only use Venmo with those in your close social network. I personally would not use this to pay the complete stranger you buy a piece of exercise equipment off Craigslist or OfferUp!
Here is a screen shot from the fun feed with Venmo. You can also see all the transactions of friends in your personal network are exchanging. I didn’t want to screen shot as it is more private, but I have some pretty humorous friends! When you make a payment, you can add a note about the transaction. With emoji’s or with simple words.
One reason I also wanted to share this particular screen shot was that I learned something from a making a payment to a friend that I thought was on Venmo. I found her name on the list but didn’t look closely enough that she actually hadn’t registered. So it was my hairdresser and after I left, I realized I can’t talk and calculate a tip at the same time and that I didn’t leave enough of a tip. So I went to make a payment with the caption “because I can’t add ??”. But a few days weeks later when my account was being reconciled, I got a notification my account had been reimbursed that payment with the explanation that the user was not on Venmo. The explanation did not come through the app, but in an email. The time may have been longer that necessary, but at least I know that I’m not just sending my money off in the world wide web and it not landing in the appropriate place. It was being looked after and rightfully returned because of my careless mistake.
7. Red Stamp
With all the social media platforms out there, we have extended our “friend” circle quite large and seem to always be wishing someone a happy birthday! And as quickly as life seems to be flying by, when it comes time to plan for get togethers and parties, stopping by the store or ordering invites and mailing can sometimes slip through the cracks.
This is why I love Red Stamp. They have digital cards you can customize with or without photos. You also have the option or order cards or just say “it’s a digital” day.
I love the simplicity of creating a card or an invite with a few swipes and clicks on my smart phone. And there are options to add photos to personalize your card.
Also, if you are a consultant for companies like (Arbonne, CAbi, Jamberry, Limelight, Stella & Dot…just to name a few of the 32 from the list), they have custom templates sending out announcements and invites.
8. Redbox (for purchasing gift Promocodes)
I know everyone knows that Redbox is easy breezy to search for a movie in a kiosk near you to reserve and pick up, but the reason I want to highlight Redbox is because the ease of gift giving you can do with this app downloaded to your phone!
Weather you are looking to give a teacher gift, a figt for a babysitter or your kids need a quick gift for a friend, you can down load 5 – 10 (or more!) promo codes to give as gifts in less than 5 minutes!
Select the DVD & Blu Ray option and scroll down the e- gift cards to PROMO CODES. Select Promo Codes.
When it comes time to select your promo codes, you can send them all to a friend or the trick I use is to send them to myself. I am then sent via email 5 codes that I can use how and when I choose.
I then get on Pinterest and find a cute free printable that I can hand write the code into and send on its way! I’ve used these cute ones from A Southern Mother. They are FREE cute ticket stub printables!
You are on your amazing vacation and looking for that perfect postcard to send back to the friends and family back home. And then finding a postcard stamp – or just a stamp itself!? Or you have captured a keepsake photo and wish to capture it and send to a long distant loved one.
How about mailing a personalized photo OF YOU?! And adding a personalized message. And the photo can pop out for a keepsake. All from your phone, at only $1.99. Yes, please!
Here is a reoccurring moment in my everyday life: I am doing something “busy” like driving or prepping a meal or using the bathroom (eh, hem) and I have a thought of something I REALLY need to do. Like text someone or call someone or pay that bill or make an appointment. All of those life daily tasks that you mean to do and forget to do and think of doing at the most inconvenient time when you don’t have your planner or your “to do” list and paper handy. I usually have my phone on me on most occasions (yes, even sometimes in the bathroom. No judgy eyes!).
I love this app for the ease of entering a task. It has
There are so great apps out there to make life a little more manageable and to keep you chugging along about your day. I hope you find some (or all!) of these useful to add to your daily family routine.