RACHEL ROTHMAN

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Tried and True: The 10 Apps I Can’t Live Without

As resident @GHGadgetGirl for Good Housekeeping, I’m asked all the time what are the apps I actually use on a regular basis.  While I’m constantly trying out new ones to inform my readership, there are a few staples I could not live without.  While you’ve probably heard of many, hopefully there are some new features in here to excite you.

  1. Google Chrome (free): While the iPhone comes loaded with Safari, there are other free web browsers that are faster and offer more robust features, like my go-to: Chrome.  You get unlimited tabs, it syncs with all your Google goodness (bookmarks, passwords, history, shortcuts, etc.), and the address bar doubles as a search box.
  2. Next Issue (subscription): Next Issue offers unlimited access to 140 magazines, including many great titles like Good Housekeeping, Esquire, and Fast Company.  It means less clutter and I can read the titles on various devices (up to five, so it’s great for couples or even families!). It has extra digital-only content and is super easy to navigate.  And you can save any pages right to your camera roll for later reference. Also like: Flipboard for its ability to create a customized magazine of your favorite available news items
  3. Hootsuite (free or premium subscription): Streamlining my Twitter experience is Hootsuite – it’s well designed and allows me to follow multiple streams with ease (favorite people, sent tweets, direct messages, etc.).  I personally love the auto-schedule feature that posts your tweets at an optimal viewing time, or lets you plan future posts.  Plus, the free version includes basic reporting tools. 
  4. Pocket (free or premium subscription): Great for underground commutes or when traveling and you know Internet access will be sparse, Pocket lets you easily save articles and videos for a later time.  You can highlight your saved items, share to social media, and use across devices. Even if you have Internet, it’s a good way to track things you care about by bookmarking them for later. 
  5. Paypal (free or premium subscription): PayPal is constantly finding ways to make payment transactions easier.  New options for dining out (limited by location) include the ability to pay for a meal at a restaurant with PayPal, and even split the bill right from the app.  I also love the transfer functionality, so I can easily payback a friend or team organizer. Also like: Venmo, which is a PayPal subsidiary, for a bit more social interaction (think public status updates)
  6. Waze (free): The massive community input on Waze helps refine its already stellar commuting options, making sure you get to your destination as fast as possible.  Plus, it gamifies being a passenger for me. And it’s smart, learning your preferred routes pretty quickly! Get real time updates on accidents and pending hazards, as well as police traps.  Also like: Google Maps, which Waze is a subsidiary of, for a seamless approach to navigation and different mode options
  7. GroupMe (free): A Rothman family personal favorite, it’s a dedicated space for chatting with your friends and family.  You create dedicated groups to keep things organized, and for those that don’t want to download the app they can still participate through SMS messaging. 
  8. Evernote (free or premium subscription): Even with all of the technology in my life, it’s hard to keep track of all of my meeting notes and inspirations.  Enter Evernote.  Whether I’m using the web-clipping tool to take snapshots or sharing my content with colleagues, I’ve found it invaluable.  While I keep my library pretty organized, the search is powerful enough that it can usually track down what I want faster than I can. And like most of my favorites, it’s multi-platform, so it syncs across all of my devices for easy access when I need it.
  9. Dashlane (free or premium subscription): Last year I vetted hundreds of apps and services, leading to an equivalent number of novel passwords.  Enter my second brain – Dashlane.  Dashlane tracks all of my pesky passwords and syncs across all of my devices – which is too many to count! It also has tools to track online shopping.
  10. IFTTT (free): Helping to automate my tasks across many of the aforementioned apps is IFTTT (If This Then That).  For those non-coders out there, this tool provides pre-made “recipes” so you can quickly set up your automations.  For instance, you can select the recipe that will check the local weather, and send you a notification if rain is pending. Or have your phone automatically turn off your WiFi and Bluetooth when you leave your home, and turn back on when you re-enter.  It’s particularly great for streamlining social media platforms – whether you want to save your Instagram photos to Dropbox or have a tweet go out after posting a link on Facebook.   

Of course, if I extended my list to the top 20 or 30 I could easily rattle off other apps, but these above are the truly indispensible ones.  Of course I love my Netflix, but I’d be okay if I just watched on the big screen.  And yeah, I appreciate FaceTime and Skype, but given that most of my family lives in a 20-block radius it isn’t the most necessary daily tool (though they do make for good distractions).   Another increasing fave is Keep, but I already have a real world personal shopping assistant in my sister, and she’s a bit more clued in to my likes than the app at this point!  

Now that you’ve got the apps, here are other tips for optimizing your phone.  

And if you’re looking for ways to extend the juice on your phone, check this post out.