Saving Time, Money and Trouble? I App-rove.
Today we continue our effort to help you make mindful choices about technology during 2016 to simplify your business and your life. Last week in our first #MindfulTech post, I focused on the most helpful apps to save time and money designed for iPhone. Today, it’s time to do the same for those of you who use Android smartphones.
Remember, our goal is identify apps that will actually help you save time, money or streamline your life in some way. There are plenty of apps that are interesting or entertaining, but if we are going to be mindful about our choices, we want to make sure that the ones we download will actually help us save time and money, not waste more of it. Here are a few I think you will find useful. Some were on my iPhone list, as well, but others are uniquely Android. All may be downloaded from Google Play.
1. Gas Buddy
I’ll start this list the same way I did for iPhone – with an app you can use to save time and money for years. GasBuddy is a very simple-to-use app that collects spontaneous reports from members who frequently report the current price of gas at a given station. Your phone’s GPS allows it to pull up the stations nearest you, or a list of “favorite” stations you have identified, to find what the price is at each one.
It’s just so simple, and allows you to feel better when the price of gas swings wildly up and down. Gas Buddy helps ensure that you will be paying at the lower end of the range at any given time. The app also sends alert messages when gas prices are expected to rise in your area, so you can fill up and beat the hike.
This app helps save you plenty of shopping time (and money along the way). You could look through newspaper ads, make phone calls, or do extensive online searching, OR, you could just install ShopSavvy and head for the store. With ShopSavvy, you scan the the barcode of an item you are planning to purchase.
It will pull up prices for the same item at stores nearby. With this “on the spot” comparison pricing, you will know you are getting a fair deal on that item – or point you to another store in the vicinity where you can.
3. If by IFTTT
Another “repeat winner” carried over from my list of iPhone apps – just too good omit. This app is all about productivity. IFTTT is an app that can ‘automate” a wide variety of actions in your daily life. (The letters actually stand for “If This, Then That.” You can use the app to pre-set a certain action to trigger a follow-up action (this is called a “recipe”). For example, you take a picture, and the app uploads it to your social media channels instantly; your phone’s clock hits 6 a.m. and it sends the day’s weather forecast to your calendar; or you leave a hotspot and your phone reminds you to turn off Wi-Fi to save battery life.
The app is a perfect match for our #MindfulTech approach; what could be a more effective time-saver than a mechanism that eliminates the need for you to remember and initiate these processes? Also gone is the worry of forgetting to do it, since it happens automatically.
There are plenty of financial budget manager apps available, but this is one of the best. Mint allows you to link your bank, retirement, credit card and other accounts to give you an essentially real-time look at your personal financial picture. It provides you a clear look at how you are spending your money, and helps you establish financial goals and make mindful financial decisions. The app includes tracking and reminder features.
At first, you might think Forest is odd choice for this list, since it encourages to use your cell phone less. But if you accept the fact (and I do) that most of us spend too much time gaping at our cell phone screens, Forest just might be the motivation we need to break that habit. When you install and open the Forest app, a little animated seed is planted and begins to sprout, and over the next 30 minutes, it grows into a large, beautiful tree.
That is, if you don’t interrupt the app to check Facebook, play a silly game, or some other unworthy action. If that happens, the tree withers to a little twig. Those 30-minute intervals of phone-free work can make you more productive at whatever you should be doing; and they earn you “coins” that you can then donate to tree-planting efforts around the world. You can also track your “forests” over a period of time, and appreciate the productivity gains those 30-minute “trees” symbolize.
What Great Android Apps Did I Miss?
There are more than 900,000 apps available for Android smartphones. Most of them aren’t worth having, but I think the ones I’ve mentioned will offer you the chance to be a little more productive in 2016. But I’m sure I missed some good ones. If so, give me a call or post some of your favorite android smartphone apps in the comments below.