Tools of the trade

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.

‎Readwise helps you get the most out of what you read by making it fun & easy to revisit your highlights from all your favorite reading platforms in one place. Quickly synchronize your highlights from Kindle, Apple Books, Instapaper, Pocket, Medium, Goodreads, and even paper books. Then start buil…


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.

‎Habit Tracker
‎Habit is a habit tracker app that helps you to build good habits, reach your goals.It will remind you when needed, track habits with stats and notes, analyze habits with charts, therefore reach your goals at ease. It is also the first habit app that let you and your friends build habit together by…

Apple Books

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.

‎Apple Books
‎Apple Books lets you lose yourself in the best books and audiobooks right on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Apple Watch. You’ll find bestsellers, classics, up-and-coming authors, and more — all ready to instantly download and enjoy. Features• Selection: Explore millions of books and audiobooks…


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.

‎Mint: Budget Planner & Tracker
‎Experience a fresh way to manage money. Reach your goals with personalized insights, custom budgets, spend tracking, and subscription monitoring—all for free. Easily see your monthly bills, set goals, and build stronger financial habits. Get the #1 personal finance and budgeting app now*. Mint is…

Apple Notes

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.

‎Notes is the best place to jot down quick thoughts or to save longer notes filled with checklists, images, web links, scanned documents, handwritten notes, or sketches. And with iCloud, it’s easy to keep all your devices in sync, so you’ll always have your notes with you. Features Powerful note-t…


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.

‎Notion - notes, docs, tasks
‎Write, plan & get organized in one place. Customize Notion to work the way you do. Free for personal use - Never hit a storage limit — add as much content as you want- Just drag and drop to craft the dashboard, website, doc, or system you need Free to try with your team - Invite your team memb…


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.

‎Instapaper is the simplest way to save and store articles for reading: offline, on-the-go, anytime, anywhere, perfectly formatted. Instapaper for macOS provides an optimized text view that makes reading Internet content a clean and uncluttered experience. Instapaper also enhances the standard read…

Apple Podcasts

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.

‎Apple Podcasts
‎Discover audio stories that entertain, inform, and inspire. Explore shows you’ll love from entertainment and comedy to news and sports. Features:• Stream millions of shows, from the biggest names to the best independents.• Access premium shows with subscriptions.• Follow shows and save your fa…

Day One

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.

‎Day One Journal: Private Diary
‎Apple’s App of the Year with over 15 million downloads and 50,000 5-star reviews globally. From once-in-a-lifetime events to everyday moments, Day One’s elegant interface makes journaling about your life a simple pleasure. New York Times: “It feels almost sacred: A completely private digital space…


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.

‎The Unsplash app is home to over 3 million free high-resolution images brought to you by the world’s most generous community of photographers. Want in? Beautiful, free images With Unsplash, you’ve got access to over three million high-resolution photos that are free to do-whatever-you-want with.…

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!

Vivek Arvind

Vivek Arvind

Santa Clara, CA