A smartphone is a child that humanity had with technology. It's a powerhouse of information, utilities, entertainment and much more. We use our smartphones in different ways — like the phone that fits our needs, the apps that we use every day, and the services we subscribe. Exploring these resources is a great way to make our busy lives easier. So here are the apps that I've found valuable over the years. I'm not including the most obvious ones like Slack, Instagram, Gmail, YouTube etc.
Readwise is hands down the best app I have come to know in the last 6 months. When I started reading, I found myself highlighting a lot naturally. I guess the student in me still lives inside. But when I was towing about the idea of what am I going to do with my highlights in the long run, I came across Readwise. It synchronizes across your devices, takes in all the highlights you have made, and sends you 5 random highlights every day. It also has a highlights feed where you can view all your highlights under one roof, with the details of the source, author, etc. This means that all the highlights you made in a book or an article would never go to waste and it would keep showing up 5 at a time every single day. The app and its service synchronize with major apps like Apple Books, Kindle, Evernote, Instapaper, etc. You also have the option to add a picture of a highlight you made in a physical book, magazine or newspaper. It's been pretty useful to revisit some key points from the books I've read. Readwise is one of the very few apps on my phone that has the privilege of sending me notifications. I look forward to it every day. It's a welcome distraction.
Incentivizing habits is the best way to make them stick. The idea is to quantify the streak and make us feel rewarded. I didn't buy into this idea at first, but when I tried it, it was transformative. The habit tracker has become an essential part of my life and I use it every day throughout. There are many habit tracker apps out there and it doesn't make much of a difference which one we use. I happen to use this one.
What am I tracking in the habit tracking app? This. Reading. In my previous post, I mentioned the struggles I faced and the mindset changes I needed to build a reading habit. Having a good books app to read from was quintessential to forming this habit, and Apple Books did it for me. I think Kindle is more popular among readers, but I have some qualms with it. If you're a kindle supporter, please do reach out to me and we can talk about it and see if I'm missing something major! On the other hand, Apple Books works well for me and synchronizes effortlessly with my devices.
Mint (by Intuit Inc.) lets you synchronize all your bank, loan, investment, and credit card accounts in one place and gives you a bird's eye view of your finances, your net worth, etc. I've been using Mint for 6 years now and I haven't had any issues with security or privacy. Having a bird's eye view helps us track and understand our finances better, how much we owe others, and how we can plan for the future. The main drawback with Mint is that it's available only in the USA and Canada. However, there are apps like YNAB that are more widely available.
Everybody needs a note-taking app these days, for daily to-do's, grocery lists, notes from meetings & books, movie recommendations, and so on. After trying a bunch of such apps, I finally arrived at the app that was right under my nose all the time — Apple Notes. It took me some time to realize that all note-taking apps are more or less the same. It almost doesn't matter which one you use as much as what you write in it. For the sake of making my life simpler, I stuck to the default one. All you need is a simple note taking app to organize your life.
Where do I start? It's the most powerful app in the app store in my opinion. Notion is an app for organizing your information, storing notes, knowledge management, notetaking and everything related to this. Here's a good video to show you about Notion. I've been using Notion for the past two years for stuff like yearly goals, travel plans, recipes, long term lists, etc. I used to use Notion for tracking habits and journaling too. Notion could be overwhelming, but they have templates from other people which you can import to your workspace. I can't explain Notion in a single paragraph, and I recommend you try it out yourself. It's completely free for personal use and paid for organizational use.
Instapaper is a bookmarking app exclusively for articles and web content to be saved to read later. Yes, you can keep the tabs open in your browser, but you can also highlight the text in Instapaper, which you can't do on a webpage. It also synchronizes seamlessly with Readwise. I use Instapaper for reading blog posts and articles that I'm most likely to highlight.
Like note-taking, there are a lot of podcast apps with few minor differences. I find the default podcast app on my phone more than sufficient. There's a lot of value in podcasts, and it doesn't matter what app we use as much as what we listen to. Android has a default one too (Google Podcast), which is pretty good.
Day One is my app of choice for journaling, and it's great for reflecting and recording your days. It synchronizes across your devices and allows you to add your location, pictures, handwritten content, etc, to your journal. I like the "on this day" feature, which reminds you how you were feeling on the given day over the years. It's a good way to reflect on our past and to see how much we have grown over the years.
Unsplash is a free images app where you can download royalty-free stock photographs for your project. They have a website, smartphone app and APIs for picking pictures that you like for your project. Unsplash is my only source of wallpapers for my devices and the images you see at the top of my posts.
I hang out in the app store for some time every week. I love exploring new apps and finding good ones to use. Most importantly, if you have any app recommendations, please let me know. I'd love to try them out. Thanks for reading. Peace out!