Truth be told, the best apps for your phone are the ones you can use more than once before forgetting about them completely.
You probably already know your preferences in social media, instant messaging, and so on, so they won’t be present here. Instead, here you’ll find some apps you would not have known you even needed. Let’s start with something for all you traveling types out there (even if you’re not, they’re still pretty useful for one-off trips!)
Finding a place to stay during a business trip, a family vacation, or just a little getaway with friends can be exhausting if you don’t know where to look. Not to mention the price variation for plane tickets – it can really make you fly off the handle looking at pricings every day just to save money for the exciting stuff.
Here are some cool recommendations for your next trip:
- Hopper – claim they can save you up to 40% on flights and hotels; sounds like a great deal if you’re on a budget
- Booking – neat loyalty program if you book through them enough times, as well as a clean interface with plenty of options to customize your searches
- Airbnb – if you prefer a more “homey” atmosphere to a hotel (though even hotels are starting to use it nowadays)
Heading to an unfamiliar place? Then you’re going to need a map. And let’s be honest here, if anybody is going to have the revenue to make a really accurate map app, it’s going to be Google (at this point surpassing the GDP of a small country).
- Google Maps – what more can be said? (Android, iOS)
- MapQuest – if you’re not particularly fond of Google, here’s a neat alternative that also includes estimated fuel costs with its directions, among other things (Android, iOS)
- Waze – nice supplementary app with user-generated maps (fast, live updates), including the marking of traffic events and hazards, such as pot holes) (Android, iOS)
Whether you’re abroad, on lunch break, or just lazing about at home on a Saturday, nothing beats ordering some takeout and not dealing with the post-meal cleanup. Now, they can be pretty area-specific so here’s a handy list of the best food delivery apps for your convenience.
Health & Wellness
An app like MyFitnessPal (Android, iOS) is great for calorie-counting, keeping track of your exercise time and fitness goals, as well as connecting with others in the daily struggle for a healthier lifestyle. Habitica is a fun way to “gamify” your life and create healthy habits if you find yourself lacking in motivation at any point. Use them in tandem for improved results!
QR & Barcode Scanner
Want to save some money on daily expenditures like groceries? Get a QR and barcode scanner app for your phone (Android, iOS), scan the product barcode and compare prices online for some better deals. Or scan coupons and coupon codes for extra discounts. Businesses also frequently use QR codes to offer goodies in their marketing, like Rovio did with their Angry Birds game back in 2016. You’re surely going to stumble across some fun stuff with QR codes.
NFC (Near Field Communication) Apps
Since you’re saving money with a QR scanner, why not save some time making payments as well? No more need to fumble around your wallet for your credit/ debit card, or even bring it along with you. Pay directly off your smartphone with an NFC app.
What it does is essentially turn your smartphone into a digital wallet (and much, much more) through a technology slightly similar to Bluetooth. If you’ve ever seen contactless credit cards, they use the same kind of NFC chip. Here are a bunch of NFC apps for Android courtesy of Tom’s Guide and a few for iOS, all with various usages.
You can’t have fun without some cybercriminal trying to ruin it for you, so make sure to beef up your phone security with a good anti-malware app. Here are some top picks for Android and iOS, too. It’s less likely you’ll catch a virus or other malicious software on Apple devices, but better safe than sorry.
VPN (Virtual Private Network)
If you like your free public Wi-Fi (and who doesn’t?), then you’ll certainly want to install a reliable VPN, like Hotspot Shield. A VPN encrypts (garbles, essentially) the data you send and receive with your phone, making it virtually impossible for a hacker to intercept or decipher it. If you’re on the go a lot, you can:
- Safely make online payments without cyber criminals stealing your credit card info
- Log in to social media and instant messaging apps without the fear that somebody is reading everything you do and say
- Hide your activity from ISPs who want to target you with aggressive advertising, as well as keep your privacy intact from not-so-friendly intelligence agencies (like the NSA)
Moreover, you can unblock websites from anywhere in the world. It’s especially useful if you happen to be abroad in a country with stricter blocking rules on online content (such as China).
Last but not least, you’ll need a nice email app to keep you on your toes when you’re out and about. Maybe keep in touch with your grandma who still hasn’t learned how to use Whatsapp even though you installed it on her phone like a year ago. Or set up an automated out-of-office message to passively-aggressively let people know that you are not available for work.
- Gmail – needs no introduction, used by over a billion people worldwide
- ProtonMail – if Google isn’t to your taste due to their shady privacy practices, then this encrypted email service is for you
Tom’s Guide also provides some lesser-known email clients, each with its own spin on what should be in an email app. Great for a variety of users with different needs!