Recs for apps that improve your life, keep you organized, etc.?
March 6, 2018 12:29 PM   Subscribe

What are some great apps that have made your life easier or have been useful to you? I have a nice Android phone (finally) with space for plenty of apps, so I'm interested in apps that will help me with daily life – not games! What are some apps I should look into? I especially would love some recommendations of apps that keep you organized, manage time effectively and help you manage your finances. Any apps that allow you to save money that are legit would be interesting too.

I can get the ball rolling with my favorites:

Google Keep - Easy way to save lists, notes, audio memos, etc. and it can be synced with my Gmail account and accessed at

OpenTable - When going out, it's nice to snag a reservation ahead of time and not risk having to wait.

Life360 - Good for keeping track of family. I can see where my mom is and she can see where I am, just in case one of us doesn't pick up the phone, we don't need to worry. We live in different states, so this adds peace of mind.

Nuzzel - Aggregates the most popular links shared on Twitter by accounts I followed. If I am off Twitter all day, but five of my follows share a link, it will go into my Nuzzel alerts so I don't miss it.

Shazam - When I hear a song I like, I can quickly figure out the name and artist by having it listening to a few seconds of the song.

Google Authenticator - Superior two-step verification to keep email and other important accounts secure. SMS two-step verification is widely seen as a very weak form of security compared to an authenticator. (Just save those backup codes.)

Google Calendar - Everything I have to do goes on my Google Calendar and alerts me ahead of time. Without it, I'd never know what the hell I'm supposed to be doing.

Square Cash - Easy way I send and receive money from friends and family without any fees when someone owes someone money back. People can also send you money to a public username, if you want.

MyFitnessPal - Easy way to track calories. You can use the barcode scanner on any food packaging and it'll auto-add all the nutrition info, or you can search a crowdsources database.

Lyft - I got rid of my car and now I use Lyft to get around. (Screw Uber and their skeezy business practices.)

Caviar - My favorite food delivery app. Best selection of restaurants and nicest user interface, in my opinion.

WhatsApp - Best messaging experience for people with different kinds of phones (iPhone, Android) and especially when traveling abroad/wifi only.

*I know this has been asked before, but the last questions seem a couple years old and technology changes so rapidly, I'm looking for some fresh recs.
posted by AppleTurnover to Technology (21 answers total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
Along the vein of Square Cash, I prefer Venmo. And I also use Splitwise whenever I do a group weekend or trip as a really easy way to split costs between a group of people.

Or if it's just dinner, and you have that friend who perpetually underpays at dinner (yes, tax and tip is an additional 28% in NYC, thankyouverymuch!) we like to use TabApp which you take a pic of the itemized tab, and then plug in names and put what each person bought by their name. Also helps if you're a lobster fan and don't think it's fair to just split the bill equally all the time.

edit: oh, also, WhatsApp is great because there's a desktop app, too!
posted by Grither at 12:34 PM on March 6, 2018

I can't tell from your profile if you're a person who might menstruate or not, but if so, I love Planned Parenthood's Spot On app for keeping track of my cycle and symptoms. It also reminds me to take my birth control pill and keeps track of my obgyn appointments!

AllTrails helps me find hiking routes, which are often suprrisingly difficult to get information about on the web, and helps me keep track of which hikes I've completed.

Goodreads is indispensable for an avid reader, while Overdrive lets me check out audiobooks and other materials from my local library.

Much as I hate to say it, the apps for my local grocery stores do actually save me money with their digital coupons.
posted by WidgetAlley at 12:38 PM on March 6, 2018 [4 favorites]

I've started using a Google Sheets workbook for a lot of miscellaneous personal bookkeeping tasks (about a year ago). And because Sheets works reasonably well on mobile, it's become my personal, general keep-track-of-whatever app.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 12:41 PM on March 6, 2018

Life360 - Good for keeping track of family. I can see where my mom is and she can see where I am, just in case one of us doesn't pick up the phone, we don't need to worry. We live in different states, so this adds peace of mind.
If you and your mom are both Android users, you can share your location through Google Maps. My husband and I do that for similar security/reducing calls/texts of "where are you" when we're trying to meet up to drive home together.

I use IFTTT extensively for automation (e.g. turn my phone on mute when I am at this location, use Google Home to locate my phone, email me a daily digest of xyz information).

Waze, OneBusAway, and Maps tell me everything I need to know about getting from point A to point B.
posted by toomanycurls at 12:45 PM on March 6, 2018

The Transit app is utterly indispensable to me as someone who commutes by bus and also uses light rail. I'm able to plan all sorts of downtown and crosstown excursions and not have to worry about getting ripped off on paid parking.

(On edit: Also, I'd much rather help support my local public transportation than put money in the pocket of "disruptive" ridesharing services that don't even pay their employees properly. So, it's a win-win!)
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:46 PM on March 6, 2018 [7 favorites]

The Libby ebook/audiobook app, which connects to your local public library and will download holds automatically. It means I now always have something to read when waiting, and I'm getting through noticeably more books as a result.
posted by veery at 1:20 PM on March 6, 2018 [4 favorites]

CItymapper is my transportation app of choice. It pulls together transit, bikeshare, carshare, and rideshare, and does a much better job of accounting for subway service changes than Google Maps does at this point. I used Transit for a bit a while ago and there was something about the service change alerts that didn't work or was otherwise annoying.
posted by yeahlikethat at 1:46 PM on March 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

I use Cozi as my family organizer: shared to do lists, calendars, reminders, recipe organization, grocery list generation from the recipes and meal planning directly on the calendar. I love how integrated everything is. Has become indispensable now that I have a baby.
posted by peacheater at 2:17 PM on March 6, 2018

i use "ourhome" as a task list. it's simple enough for me to actually add things to and mark as done. it is made for families, but i use it as a single person just fine.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 2:35 PM on March 6, 2018

Regularly keeps me sane. You put in your frequent household chores (water the plants, clean the bathroom, wipe baseboards...) and how often you'd like to accomplish said task. It gently reminds you when it's due and, if it's not due, it's out of my brain! It's miraculous.
posted by unlapsing at 2:38 PM on March 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'd look for apps that match your library, power company, pharmacy, paycheck processor (i.e. not your employer but how you put in your time), bank, and health insurer.

I'd install Call Log Monitor if the functionality it provides is not already in your phone.

If you have Amazon Prime, I'd install Amazon Music, Prime Now, and Prime Video.

I'd install Belly if there's enough participating restaurants in your area to make it worthwhile.

I'd install ACR, although check the legality in your area first.

I prefer Authy over Google Authenticator.

Capturing: I'd recommend a good document scanner (I use CamScanner but hear good things about TinyScanner), a good mood tracker (I use Daylio), a good habit tracker (HabitHub or Habitica), and Recurrence.

Communication: Google Duo is a Facetime for everyone.

Health/Exercise: MapMyWalk is useful, and Mozilla Stumbler and Street­Complete can both be motivators to get you out and walking. If your health provider uses MyChart or your employer offers Teladoc, they're worth installing and setting up now while you're not sick.

Money: It's worth it to load up your cards and store discount cards on Google Pay for the sheer tap-to-pay convenience, and they also recently introudced Google Pay Send.

News: AP Mobile. Gold standard in objectivity.

Reading: In addition to your library's app above, see if they work with OverDrive -- most do -- and if so, also install Libby. Moon+ Reader is my recommendation for general reading on top of Kindle.

Relaxing: Paced Breathing.

Tools: I like Business Calendar for my Google calendar, Forecaster for my weather (try it), and Snapseed for photo edits. I find Decision Crafting useful, Fing for spotting people leeching on my wifi, LifeClock for a morbid reminder, phyphox to look at all my phone's sensors, Google Translate as a universal translator, and Songkick for keeping track of concert tours.

Phone utilities: I find AppMgr Pro III useful for sorting apps by size hogs, Blockade for blocking phone spammers, Day Widget for having the date on my home screen, DND Toggle for working with my launcher (Nova -- hands down the best launcher out there) to flip DND mode with a quick gesture, List My Apps for stuff like this, My Data Manager for data tracking, and Portal and DriveSync (this link for Google Drive, but they've got Dropbox/OneDrive variants) for getting stuff between my computer and phone.

There's some links above to for-pay versions (Moon Reader, Paced Breathing, etc.) just because that's what's on my phone, but if you look further down said pages, there are usually free versions.
posted by WCityMike at 2:39 PM on March 6, 2018 [10 favorites]

Also, as a Lyft user, you may want to investigate Waze Carpool and Via.

Also worth keeping an eye on this weekly thread -- (don't click on the comment link for each, click on the link itself, which will take you to a weekly app suggestion thread in /r/android).
posted by WCityMike at 2:44 PM on March 6, 2018

Prism! From their app page:
• Get notified when bills are due and when payments are made
• Track bill amounts and due dates
• Check bank account balances
• Pay bills with a single swipe

One-stop shop for money management and bill tracking/organization/payment, super straightforward and easy to use, free, honestly changed my life.
posted by obstinate harpy at 2:54 PM on March 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I didn't name the apps I use specific to my own situation, but I do use apps for my bank, brokerage firm, healthcare provider, local library and city transit. You guys have some other recommendations that sound quite useful though. I'll definitely be looking into some of these. Appreciate everyone who took the time to explain which apps they use and/or link them!
posted by AppleTurnover at 4:30 PM on March 6, 2018

Daylio is a really nice mood tracking app.
posted by neushoorn at 11:39 PM on March 6, 2018

Our Groceries does one job very well - it allows two people to share one shopping list - very useful if you share cooking and shopping duties.
posted by Heloise9 at 11:54 PM on March 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

I really like Todoist. I use it aggressively and it's done wonders for my productivity and peace of mind.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:19 AM on March 7, 2018

I always feel like I'm proselytizing, but...


I organize all my life, including goals, fun things, and several businesses, with it. It's a brilliant piece of software, and works exceptionally well on Android.
posted by nosila at 8:52 AM on March 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

For managing finances, check out You Need a Budget (YNAB) -- it's more than an app, but the app is now so functional that I'm not even sure if the full web version is even necessary anymore. They have a 34-day free trial so you can see if it's your jam.

There are lots of excellent online classes to help you get started. It was a COMPLETE FINANCIAL GAME CHANGER for me.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:33 AM on March 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

Seconding Transit above. If you use mass transit and live in a city they cover, its so convenient. I love the way it will show your bus/train approaching you on a map. No more hoping and guessing and wondering if/when your bus will ever arrive. Cities here. (first click on country, then it shows cities at the bottom of the screen.) Transit is, by far, the most useful app on my phone.
posted by marsha56 at 12:15 PM on March 7, 2018

Came here to shout Habitica to the rooftops. I've been way more productive since I started using it. I'm currently on a quest with 14 of the people in my party to capture unicorn eggs. We recently defeated a Golden Knight to win gold, XP, and Golden Hatching Potions.

You can get really into the game, or ignore it completely. I didn't think I'd like all the gamification, but I freaking love it. I just leveled up to be a Level 94 Healer named FlyingRhino. I keep all my to-do lists in progress in Habitica. When I start running low in the to-do list, I pull from Trello, where I email ideas, tasks, and reminders to myself.
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess at 8:00 PM on March 7, 2018

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