Do you often see articles on the Web that you'd like to read later, but you never do because you can't remember where you found them? Pocket is a simple app that allows you to save and tag things from your browser. Once you install the browser extension, you'll see a little button next to the address bar that looks like this:
Clicking the Pocket icon will save a link to that article and offer you the option to add a tag that serves as a sort of searchable file folder.
You can access those saved links from the standalone app or through the web interface. I use Pocket quite a bit, especially when I'm planning a vacation or working on a home improvement project. For kicks, I just scrolled through my tag list and I see some wacko stuff in there. Apparently, at some point, I was thinking about going to Zanzibar? Alrighty then! I have the app on my phone and the browser extension on my laptops. So, anytime I want to save something, I can do so from any of my devices.
Pocket can get out of control like anything else, so I try to go in and clean up my tags from time to time. I use the free version, but there's a premium version that offers more features. Overall, it does what I need it to do and it's extremely helpful for those who consume a lot of information online.
Get Pocket here.
When QR Codes (short for "Quick Response" because they can quickly be read by a mobile device) started showing up all over the place, I didn't really understand what they were and why I should use them. I've since learned that they're similar to a bar code except they can store far more data, such as website addresses, business card information, coupons, and app downloads.
Years ago, I downloaded one of the many free QR reader apps. But, whenever I'd be flipping through a magazine or walking by a sign that displayed one of these things, I could never remember which of the (literally) hundreds of apps on my phone could read it much less what the square thingies were called. All of that has changed with iOS11. All you have to do is aim your camera at the code and BAM .... the camera reads it and takes you to wherever the QR code is pointing. It's that simple! And, Android users have the same camera functionality using Google Lens (but only with certain phones).
If you haven't already done so, I urge you to test it out! You may find that it's far handier than you ever thought.
Have any of you experienced any surprises when scanning QR codes? Where's the weirdest place that you've ever seen one? Share your stories in the comments below.
When I find an app that works, I tend to stick with it until it starts pissing me off. The Apple Podcast app worked perfectly until iOS11 when its basic functionality and ease of use was ruined. The interface has become so distorted that it's impossible to even listen to podcasts in sequential order without having to muss and fuss with it. I tolerated this for months until I finally gave up and started the hunt for something new. And, at last, I have found it! The app is called Overcast. It's simple to use and delivers exactly what you need plus a couple of extras.
Download for free here: Overcast
Ever need a way to quickly figure out how to get from Point A to Point B? Rome2Rio is the app for you. From big cities to small towns all across the globe, Rome2Rio has got you covered. Just type in your start and end points and the app will give you multiple options for how to get there, how long it will take, and how much it'll cost.
Use it at home for local jaunts:
Or use it to plan big trips across the globe:
Get results quickly and accurately to find the best route that works for you. Available as an app or online at rome2rio.com.
BigOven has become one of my most beloved apps. I use it to meal plan, build my grocery list, and collect recipes all in one place.
The feature that I use the most is definitely the grocery list. I choose what I want to cook for the week and BigOven builds the list from the recipes that I've selected. I can also add items individually. And, the list can be sorted by recipe or by department (produce, canned goods, etc). Sorting by recipe is a great feature for those days when you just want to purchase what you need to get dinner on the table. Sorting by department will get you through the store more efficiently.
Since the list can be accessed from all of my devices, I add things as I think of them from wherever I am. I've recently put my husband in charge of the weekly Trader Joe's shopping. BigOven allows him to access the grocery list using the app on his phone. You can share the list to whomever you'd like by adding their email address to your "Household" in the account settings.
BigOven has much more to offer than creating a grocery list. Here's a quick run down on some key features that I use, as well as areas for improvement and pricing.
Whenever I try a new recipe, I follow it to the letter the first time that I make it. If needed, I'll adjust it the next time to get it just right for our family's taste. The private notes feature allows me to keep track of any tweaks that I'd like to make to the recipe in the future. Sometimes I also make notes about yields or on the fly changes that I made that worked out well or fell flat.
There are literally thousands of recipes in the database. You can search by an ingredient, a recipe name, or a meal course. Can't think of anything to cook? Start playing around in here and you can get lost for days.
Do you ever wonder what to do with a few random things in your refrigerator? Enter up to three ingredients and quickly find recipes that use those things.
Type them in manually, copy / paste from a file, or use the "clip from a recipe site" feature. You can also have a scanned recipe transcribed by BigOven. When you use your allotment of free scans (number varies depending on price plan), more can be purchased for a small fee.
Use folders to organize your recipes in a way that makes sense to you. Folders for "Added, Favorites, Try, and Made" are created by default. However, you can create your own folders. For example, I created "Cook This Week, Guests, Smoothies, and Household Faves."
At this time, there's a free version and Pro paid version ($25/year). I've been paying for the Pro version for several years now and can't imagine living without it.
Check out a feature comparison here.
Organize Your Travel with TripIt
My husband and I just took a much needed vacation to Southern France. For the past several years, we've been using TripIt to organize, share, and coordinate all of our travel plans. Instead of using multiple apps or heaven forbid an old school paper file, we simply email all of our confirmations to firstname.lastname@example.org from a known email address. TripIt then imports all of the relevant details (location / time / flight numbers / restaurant reservations) into your account so that you have everything in one place. On this trip we took planes, trains, and automobiles and we moved around quite a bit. So, we had many details to manage and TripIt is a wonderful tool to keep things on track.
There's a free version that provides quite a nice suite of features. However, I prefer the paid version ($49 annually) which gives me the ability to grant family members access to all of my trips automatically, track points and miles, get real-time flight alerts, and be notified if a previously purchased airfare has dropped so that I can request a refund. There are many more benefits besides these, but these are the ones that I enjoy the most.
Here's a link to a feature comparison on the TripIt website.
TripIt is one of my most used apps as I travel a fair amount. It's also nice to have an archive of past trips so that you can find that hotel that you liked, or reminisce about that restaurant that you went to or concert that you enjoyed. It's all right there at your fingertips by web / smart phone / tablet.
Have you ever asked yourself, "Is there an app for that?" There probably is and you should try it.