I am on my third iPhone…I think. This is because I am a moron and let my kids play with it, and because I am a Class A klutz. Phones fly out of my hands like hot potatoes. My best memory of a phone’s demise was when I was talking to my sister while on a hike, gave the phone to my son to say hello to her, and he promptly chucked it into a nearby creek. I think I was still able to text her to let her know that happened. My refurbished 4Gs is a great little tool for keeping me connected to the outside world while I am knee-deep in child-rearing-land at home with the littles, and only recently have I begun to discover the full range of potential ways that various apps can help save time and preserve my quickly dwindling sanity.
Of course I use Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter with obsessive frequency, and I jam to the Carolina Beach Music station on Pandora during the kids’ bathtime. My real estate apps are literally the reason we found our house (thanks Realtor.com) and my Groupon and LivingSocial apps make it easy to redeem vouchers when I forget the printed version at home. But I know there are more things out there to make life easier, and a quick poll of some local mommy friends revealed a new list of favorite apps to take you into the new year. Those suggestions are below, and hopefully they’ll prevent you from leaving your kids in the car while you dash into the bank to deposit a check into the ATM when you can just snap a picture of your check via your bank’s app (why we don’t have more drive-up ATMs around here is another post altogether), among other things.
Instead of shoving every cute piece of artwork your child brings home from school each week into a folder that ends up in a scrapbook in a closet somewhere, use the ArtKive app to take, tag and store an image of their masterpiece. Later you can turn the artwork into a book or other gift or keepsake.
Parents of infants and young children know the routine – whenever you leave your kid with a grandparent, sitter or other care provider, you come back with a barrage of questions – did they poop? How many times? What did they eat? Did they sleep? For how long? Can I expect a meltdown later? Now all your child’s care providers can sync up the details of baby’s day in one place and share messages with one another with this brilliant app.
Put your stuff in Dropbox and get to it from your computers, phones, or tablets. Edit docs, automatically add photos, and show off videos from anywhere. Share photos with friends. Work with your team like you’re using a single computer. Everything’s automatically private, so you control who sees what.
Or stalk your friends. If your friends accept the invite you send them using the Find My Friends app on their device, you can start following their location. Your friends can request to follow your location the same way. My co-blogger Mary Galioto loves using this app to find out if her betrothed, Ryan, has actually left work when he says he did, or even find out where he shops for her Christmas gifts.
This app has several features including temporary sharing so a group of friends can share their location for a specific period of time, such as an evening or a long weekend. If at any time you don’t want to be followed, you can hide your location with a single switch. Find My Friends also lets you set up location-based alerts that can notify you automatically when a friend arrives at the airport, a child leaves school, or a family member arrives home safely. You can notify friends about your current location or changes to your location at any time.
Have you ever wanted to edit your own magazine? Well now you can, sort of. Flipboard lets you pull news from your favorite sites and curate your favorite stories into a personal magazine on any topic imaginable. The app allows you to catch up on the news, discover amazing things from around the world, or stay connected to the people closest to you—all in one place.
Mint pulls all your financial accounts into one place so you don’t have to try to remember your passwords for your bank, your husband’s bank, your kids’ 529 accounts, your student loan and retirement account sites. You can set a budget, track your goals and do more with your money, for free. Mint has more than 10 million users and uses 128-bit SSL encryption – the same security that banks use – so all data is protected and validated by VeriSign and TRUSTe. Plus, since Mint is read-only, no money can be moved in or out of any account. It is the bomb dot com.
I always wanted to know how my friends get their iPhone photos to look so cool or retro or basically like they had taken a professional photo. So I asked them. They told me to download PicStitch to make those cool photo collages and snapseed for fool-proof photo editing (like laying sepia tones over a fall photo of my kids at the park). Done and done.
Before you splurge on a new pair of knee-high boots or the leaf blower your hubby’s been eyeing, scan the barcode with Red Laser and it will instantly pull up the best prices available both online and at local stores. You can purchase deals directly from the app or get directions to the nearest location. Cha-ching!
Leave the random post-it notes behind. A shopping list app that makes it super easy to keep track of your weekly grocery shopping!
If you have small kids in the house, you can’t go wrong with a white noise app. We have two Marpac sound machines that we use at night and for naps and I STILL find use for my white noise app. Sleep Machine provides a huge assortment of professionally mastered ambient sounds designed specifically for achieving a total relaxed state and improving sleep. The multi sound player design is easy to play, mix, and create a truly lifelike sound for your sleep environment. You can mix iPod music with your favorite sounds too. Simply Noise is just that – simply noise. You pick varying levels of white noise with the touch of a button and drift off into sleep, until of course you hear your baby over your three sound machines.
Turn your phone into a walkie-talkie. Send or receive a message, and the message is instantly available to playback. Great for contacting friends overseas or abroad. Talk to anyone in the world with live voice, text, photos and location sharing from your smartphone or desktop. Everything is saved, so you never miss a message.
You know when you are snaking through bumper-to-bumper traffic for as far as the eye can see on the highway, and wonder what the heck is causing the hold-up? Waze can tell you. Created “for the common good” to help drivers share info on accidents, traffic stops, construction and other traffic causes, the goal of this app is to help everyone minimize the stress of commuting and share real-time traffic info. Drives enter their destination and keep the app open while driving, allowing information to be passively transmitted and shared (thus avoiding “texting while driving” snafus). Users also can input their own info when they are safely stopped, and a staff of map editors clues everyone in to new routes and commuting options.
Another helpful grocery shopping app, Zip List takes it up a notch by pulling together recipes, shopping lists and store deals into one place. Users can search and save recipes online, sort by ingredient, source or cook time and add ingredients directly to shopping lists. Users can share shopping lists with family and friends, and get notified about store coupons matching what’s on the shopping list.
If you haven’t “app”squatulated from this post yet, tell us in the comments about YOUR favorite app!