I TITLED this post just to be funny because it’s about phone apps, and the first one I’ll discuss is WeCroak. My husband, who is basically obsessed with the subject, loves this one, although I do not. I tell him I already know I’m going to die, I don’t need five daily reminders, thank you very much. But I get them anyway because whenever one pops up, Mitch reacts audibly, usually with a groan. Naturally this prompts me to ask him what’s wrong, to which he replies, “I’m going to die someday.” Keeping this knowledge in the forefront of your mind is supposed to enhance the quality of one’s life, but based on Mitch’s increasingly gloomy disposition, it doesn’t. You can do what you want of, course, but I’d steer clear of this one.
On a happier note, there are some apps I heartily endorse. A short list of my favorites follows, and I do mean short —in 2018 there were roughly 2 million apps available to download.
1. Shazam: This app finds the name and artist of any music that’s playing within earshot, keeping you from going nuts wondering who’s the artist or what’s the title. Out in a restaurant, or anywhere there’s music playing, you simply hold your phone up in the air and, with enough time, the answer appears. So if the song is, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” you can find out what sexist is singing it and then complain to the management to turn it off.
2. HQ Trivia: Daily at 3 and 9pm, there’s a fun game to play where you might even win money! Despite my mini-addiction, I’ve never won a dime. There are only ten seconds to answer each of 12 increasingly difficult questions, which means not enough time to Google it. You’re competing with roughly 500,000 others to split the $5,000 prize, although sometimes the pot is $25,000. The best part, besides learning esoteric stuff you never knew, is the game’s emcee Scott Rogowski. He’s a gifted comic who is beyond hysterical and definitely reason enough to log in.
3. Pandora: Basically this is free radio, tailored to your personal tastes. You plug in a song or an artist you like, and it creates a channel just for you. About a quarter of the selections will be the named artist or group, and the rest will be others with a similar sound.
4. Venmo: If you’re short on cash, have lost your credit card, or for some reason find yourself penniless, you can still pay for your dinner. Just have your companion pay and Venmo your share. This app transfers money directly from your bank account into another in as little as ten minutes. (Yes, both parties need the app.)
5. Calm: Meditation is bigger than ever these days, but some poor souls remain unenlightened. It’s hard to factor doing nothing at all into a busy schedule, thereby letting another day of mindlessness slip by. But Calm tells you exactly how, when and where to ascend to a higher level of consciousness.
6. Map My Fitness: How far did you run? Or walk, or bike? And where did you go? You might want to know, and just by turning on this app when you go out to exercise, you’ll have the information (shown on a map) at your fingertips when you get home. Then you can show your route to your friends and family, or if you’re even more self-absorbed, post it on Facebook. (Another app of course, but you knew that.)
7. Open Table: Absolutely the easiest way to plan a dinner out, Open Table saves you the frustration of calling restaurant after restaurant and being told there’s no room at the inn, or that there’s room, but not when you want to go. Instead, you are presented with a list of eateries that can accommodate your party with the times that are open. Most restaurants in most big cities have registered with this app, but some haven’t so you might still have to go it alone for someplace especially esoteric.
8. Waze: Offering a navigation system based on real-time information concerning traffic in your area at the moment, this app is a must-have for getting to the airport in rush hour or embarking on road trips in unfamiliar territory. But be brave: To escape the jams and reach your destination, Waze takes you down secret paths, back alleys and dirt roads. It can be scary sometimes, but you’ll get there, and ahead of everyone stuck on the Interstate.
9. The Weather Channel: You know what this one is, and you probably already have it. In case you don’t, what are you waiting for? It’s essential for anyone who is planning travel to another city, or even just going outdoors where they live.
10. The Moon: Great for vampires (for obvious reasons), this app is also just plain fun if you’re fascinated by the moon. Is it waxing? Is it waning? When will it be a full moon? These are things some unusual people want to know. My husband is one of them, because even though he will die someday, he’s very interested in the phases of the moon while he’s still alive.
11. Tides Near Me: Any boaters out there? If so, you need this one. Check to see when the tides will be high or low and avoid getting trapped on some low-lying island in the middle of the bay, or ocean, or whatever tidal waters you frequent.
12. Words With Friends: What—you don’t play Words With Friends? Surely you jest. What do you do when your plane is delayed? Or sitting at the orthodontist while junior is getting those braces adjusted? Or just about anytime and anywhere there’s nothing else to do? You could turn on Calm (see # 5) and reach nirvana, or you could play WWF and avoid getting Alzheimer’s. Studies like the one done by Cambridge University suggest that word games boost the memory and may reduce the risk of dementia. It’s your choice, along with the more than 57 million other folks playing at any moment, according to Michelle David, the app’s lead experience designer.
Andrea Rouda blogs at The Daily Droid.