Track Your Day with Apps

Track Your Day with Apps

For some people, there’s so much to do in a day that it’s hard to keep up with everything. By the end of the day, you might not be sure what you even did over the past 12 hours. Or you might not be incredibly busy, but you just don’t remember to stop and think about specific aspects of your life.

If this is the case for you, you might benefit from an app like the ones in this article. There’s an app for nearly everything, and of course there are apps that can track most areas of your daily life.

Why track your day?

You might have realized you want to keep up with what you’re eating, or maybe it dawned on you that you’re not sure when you last spent time with your friends without looking at your phone. Maybe you’ve been forgetting to budget for travel expenses or grocery costs. Whatever it may be, there’s a way to track it.

Tracking certain parts of your day can make it much easier to evaluate what you’ve been doing. It can make it possible to understand certain issues in your life, and it can show you things you’ve been doing well (and things you didn’t know you needed to improve on). If you don’t know what to fix, then you won’t know how to fix it. By tracking how much you exercise, how much time you spend on your tablet, or how big your environmental footprint is, then you’ll have a starting point for change.

What can you track?

Here are just some ways you can track your personal life. There are apps listed for each area. Of course, these are just some of the apps you might want to try. The app store on your phone will likely have even more to choose from. So if one of these doesn’t appeal to you, take a look around to see if there are other options that fit you better.

Track your food

There are many different apps you can use to track your food throughout the day. Most of them will let you set goals (like how many calories you can have, how much sugar you can consume, etc.) You can often set a weight goal, as well, and get food intake suggestions. Here are a few apps to try:

  • Your device’s built-in app: Depending on which phone you have, you might already have a food tracker on your device. For instance, there’s Samsung Health, which offers quite a few health tracking features.
  • MyFitnessPal (Android & iOS): MyFitnessPal is an app from Under Armour. It lets you track your food intake, find out nutritional facts, add your own recipes, find food from restaurants, scan barcodes to look up products, and more.
  • Lose It! (Android & iOS): Lose It! is specifically designed for weight loss, but you can of course just use it to track what you eat. You can use it to set and meet goals. It lets you input and track your eating every day, take part in challenges, plan meals, and more.

Track your exercise

If you’re not sure you’re exercising enough, you can always try keeping track of your fitness regimen. You can log how long you’re exercising, what kinds of exercises you’re doing, and more. Most apps will give you an idea of how many calories you may have burned during the day, as well. Here are a couple apps to check out:

  • Your device’s built-in app: Like above, some phones have a built-in health app that offers useful features. Using Samsung Health as an example again, you can choose from different exercises (like push ups and jumping jacks), then log how long you did them.
  • JEFIT (Android & iOS): With JEFIT, you can track your training and your progress, as well as set and meet goals. Along with all the instructional features and its social aspect, you can log your workouts in the app.
  • HeavySet (iOS): With this app, you can track your weightlifting and other equally intense workouts. It’s specifically designed for logging exercise. It also tells you when you set personal bests and lets you look back on past time periods to see trends.

Track your gas costs

If you commute to work, like to go on road trips, or are just worried about the current cost of gas, then you can try tracking your transportation costs. Gas prices have been soaring, and it could be a good time to figure out just how much you’re spending. You may make decent money at your job, but if you commute to work, your gas costs might make a huge dent. Or you might have gone on a trip but then forgotten to calculate how much you spent fueling up. Here are a couple apps that can help you keep a log of how much you’re spending at the gas pumps.

  • Fuelio (Android): With this app, you can track basically everything related to your auto costs. You can track how much you’ve spent filling up your tank, how many miles you’ve put on your car, how much you’ve spent servicing your car, and more.
  • Fuel (iOS): Fuel, like Fuelio, lets you log how much you spend at the gas pumps. It also lets you input other car expenses, include more than one car, and look at clear charts showing your spending.

Track daily costs

If you find yourself running low on money before each paycheck, it might be useful to start figuring out where most of your money is going. Using an app, you can track how much you’re spending on your shopping trips, then look for any trends, places you can cut back, or things you can actually spend more on. These are just a couple of your options:

  • Wally Lite (iOS): With this app, you can scan receipts, manually input spending, set a budget, and track where you’ve been spending your money.
  • Mint: Mint is a popular multi-purpose finance service. It can help you track your bills, set a budget, and get a visual of your spending, along with many other features.

Track environmental impact

There are many things we do every day that can be wasteful or otherwise bad for the environment. With an app, we can remind ourselves to make environmentally-conscious decisions. We can also see a visual representation of the environmentally sound things we did that day, as well as learn about other little things we could be doing better. Here are a couple apps that can help:

  • JouleBug (Android & iOS): With JouleBug, you’re inspired to take note of what you do every day to try to be a little more green. The app offers suggestions on how to be more environmentally friendly, then gives you points and achievements when you actually do Earth-friendly things. Your points are a great indication of how environmentally sound you’re being each week.
  • Oroeco (Android & iOS): Oroeco is an app that encourages you to be environmentally friendly and then rewards you when you make an effort to do so. You can earn rewards when you do green things, and you’re given suggestions for ways to be kinder to the environment.

Track your mood

Keeping up with how you feel throughout a day can be difficult. You might not even know when you’re in a bad mood or if you’re experiencing mood swings. Keeping an eye on your mood can give you an indication of what the underlying causes might be (whether it’s something as basic as stress or something more serious). The following apps can help you track your mood throughout each day:

  • Realife Change (iOS): This app is a motivational app that offers a “virtual coach.” You can track your moods and various different emotions and thoughts throughout your day, then receive advice based on what you logged. You can also track your moods using hashtags.
  • iMoodJournal (Android & iOS): iMoodJournal lets you log your moods throughout the day (including hashtags), then look back at charts showing your trends. You can even include extras (like photos), and you can track other things, like energy level and stress.

Track screen time

If you’re like most people with access to tech, you probably spend a lot of your day looking at a screen. Phones, computers, tablets, TVs—there are screens everywhere. Some screen time is unavoidable, and realistically, it would be difficult to cut it out completely. But it is possible to learn how much time you’re really spending on it and then set goals to cut back. These are just two of the apps that you can try:

  • Moment (iOS): Moment is an app for iOS users who want to know how much time they’re spending on their iOS devices. It tracks screen time automatically. You can then see how much you’ve used all your devices (and you can include your family’s devices, too) and set daily limits.
  • AntiSocial (Android): This app runs in the background of your device and then provides reports on how much screen time you’ve used. You can use it to set limits and block access to certain apps, as well.

Tech You Need If You’re Traveling

Tech You Need If You’re Traveling

Have plans to travel? If you’re like a lot of other people, you might be headed on vacation this summer. Or you could have business trips planned. Whatever the case may be, traveling can be fun. But it can also have its own stresses and issues. Whether you’re driving a car or heading to an airport, it can sometimes seem tricky making it to a destination.

Thankfully, there’s some great technology available to make trips a little easier. You might need something to keep kids distracted during family trips, something to help you find your destination more smoothly, or something to give you peace of mind while your home is empty. All of these worries and more can be taken care of with some devices you’ve already heard of (and perhaps some you haven’t).

Tech For Traveling

Don’t lose your stuff

Want to keep track of your luggage or other important items? Tile is one way to do that. Luggage can sometimes get lost. And while you’re away from home, being in unfamiliar places can make it easier to lose things like your keys or your wallet.

With Tile, you can easily track important items, whether it be a suitcase or your rental car keys. All you have to do is attach Tile to whatever you want to keep track of, then use Tile’s app if you need to locate the item. There’s the Tile Slim, which is a thin version of the device that isn’t too bulky in a wallet. There’s the Tile Mate, which has a small hole in the corner so you can attach it to anything, like purses, backpacks, keys, and more. These two are most likely to be helpful during your travels. There’s even an accessory for the Tile Slim that is specifically made for traveling: the Tile Slim Luggage Tag.

There’s also the Tile Sport, which could come in handy if you’re going on a trip that might get a little rough (like if you’re camping, hiking, biking, or doing things outdoors). And there’s the Tile Style, which adds some extra flair to the device for a more fun appearance.

Prices vary for each Tile device, and there are also combo packs. You can buy 4-packs or 8-packs to pay a little less for each device, or you can mix it up and buy the different devices separately.

Keep your passengers entertained

If you’re traveling with impatient kids or adults who aren’t fans of road trips, keeping them distracted can be a great way to eliminate some stress. The answer is simple: bring a tablet. Using phones can be a drain on the battery and run the risk of not having enough battery life if your car breaks down. And using a tablet can seem like a special treat if your kids don’t already use them regularly (if they do, I’m sure you already know how entertaining they can be).

Even if you don’t already have one, buying one for your trip doesn’t have to be expensive. There are pricey options out there, but it can be as easy as buying a Kindle Fire for just $49.99 (and sometimes for less during a promotion). You can easily set up a kid-friendly account and choose which apps they can use. This should make it easier to pass the time.

A tablet can also be a useful way to save space. If you like to read during your relaxing vacations, you don’t have to pack any bulky booksyou can just read them on your tablet.

Find your destination with no problem

We all know about apps like Google Maps and Waze. You likely use Google Maps to find your way on a regular basis. But for some, this isn’t the most convenient way to travel. If you’re traveling alone, or if you are particularly uncomfortable driving on busy interstates, through tricky areas, or at night, having a GPS system in your car might work a lot better than having to look at your phone while on the road.

Navdy is one way you can integrate navigation into your vehicle. Information is projected onto your windshield with a transparent display, so you don’t have to look down at a phone. It also dims or brightens appropriately. It uses Google Maps, so that will be familiar to you, and you can also set up a dashboard that shows things like how much gas you have left.

If you can’t quite afford a system like that at the moment, you can also consider Garmin. Garmin offers many different GPS systems, some for less than a hundred dollars. Their website lists their many different products, and you can also find them on Amazon.

Track down your car

You might be worried you’ll forget where you parked at the airport. Or you might be parking on unfamiliar streets in a city away from home. You can take a picture of your surroundings, but that isn’t always enough to find your way back where you started.

Fortunately, there are many apps that you can use to track down your car when you’re ready to leave. The simplest solution? Drop a pin on Google Maps and save your location. By placing a pin at your current location before leaving your car and then saving it to your places, you can easily make your way back.

There are other options if you don’t use Google Maps or want a more streamlined way to get back to your vehicle. Find My Car is a well-known app that saves the GPS location of your car and navigates you back to it later. You can find it on iOS and on Android. There’s also ParkMe, which can not only help you find your car, it can also help you figure out where to park in the first place.

Keep your home safe while you’re gone

If you’ll be away from home for a while and there won’t be anyone staying behind to house sit, there are ways to make yourself feel less worried about your empty home. With smart devices, you can keep watch on your home and make it look as though it’s not actually empty.

Smart bulbs, like Philips Hue bulbs and the bulbs from MagicLight, can be set on a timer to turn on and off, fade, and more. So your home won’t have to be dark and obviously empty at night.

Smart security systems are also great for peace of mind. There are a lot of options out there, so of course, research carefully before investing in a system. With these systems, you can typically set motion alerts so you get a notification if the camera catches movement. You can also usually check in on a live feed. Nest offers some popular devices, as well as Frontpoint and Canary. Just make sure you know what the initial installation cost is as well as how much it will cost every month.

Tech to Get You Through Winter Weather

Tech to Get You Through Winter Weather

Depending on where you live, you might be dealing with some unpleasant cold weather lately. (If not, I’m a little jealous of you.) As always, many of us are dealing with dropping temperatures, freezing rain, blizzards, or a little bit of everything winter has to offer.

There’s a lot that goes into things like weatherization and car care, so of course, this article should act as a supplement to the basics. Specifically, in this article, I’ll be sharing a few ways you can use tech and the internet to make it through winter!

First things first: focus on safety

The most important thing to remember during inclement weather is that you should always stay focused on safety. There are some suggestions in this article that are mostly for convenience or money-saving. However, you should always carefully look into safety tips for different situations.

To go over winter weather tips, take a look at the National Weather Service’s Winter Resources.

For your home

Reduce energy
You might want to consider how you can best save energy while keeping warm in the winter. There are many things you can do to cut back on energy use. One way you can reduce energy is by upgrading your thermostat.

For instance, one affordable thermostat is Lux’s Programmable Thermostat. This thermostat doesn’t have a ton of bells and whistles, but it’s helpful because you can program it to change the temperature while you’re away. It can also be set to turn the heat back up at a certain time, so when you get home, the temperature is comfortable again. This way you don’t have to worry about wasting heat for hours every day.

If you have more money to spare, you can also try one of the popular smart thermostats. One option is the ecobee4. It’s much pricier, but you can do additional things like change the temperature from an app and use its integrated Alexa voice control.

Cuddle up
You can keep extra warm with a cozy blanket. Maybe you have roommates who aren’t as bothered by the cold, or maybe you just like to curl up under warm blankets. Either way, an electric blanket might make winter easier to endure.

Sure, electric blankets aren’t new tech. But there are better options than there used to be. For example, Sunbeam has a queen size electric blanket that is designed to actually be comfortable while also letting you set the different sides of the blanket at different temperatures, and it has an auto-off feature.

If this is a bit too costly, there are cheaper options available. Just make sure to buy from a brand you trust, and always use an electric blanket as intended to avoid accidents!

Prepare for power outages
Aside from the usual preparations, make sure you have a way to keep your devices on if the power goes out. You might just need or want an inexpensive, low-power battery pack. Or you could look into full-blown backup generators.

You can find small portable chargers for just a few dollars. Aibocn has one for just under $10. If you want more than just one or two charges from your battery pack, Anker has many portable batteries available. Their 20100mAh battery pack can charge some devices up to 7 times from just one charge of the pack.

Consider everything you’ll want to charge during a power outage, and then consider purchasing a battery pack that can charge what you specifically need.

For traveling

Clear your windows
If your windshield is frozen over, you can use a variety of products to melt the ice and scrape it off. If you want to potentially make things even easier, try adding a new device to your collection. There are ice scrapers available that plug into your car’s lighter outlet and heat up to help melt the ice while you scrape.

One example of this is Zone Tech’s Ice Scraper. It’s heated, uses a squeegee to clear away water, and is designed to avoid scratching windows. Launch Innovative Products has a similar heated ice scraper. This one also has a light so it’s easier to see while you’re scraping.

Warm your seat
If you get out early in the morning, you might have come to dread sitting on your car seat because it gets so cold. Some cars come with heated seats, which is great, but if you have an older car (or don’t have the money for actual heated seats), you have options. Specifically, you can purchase heated seat covers.

There are quite a few of these products on the market, and many of them are reasonably priced. A good example of this is Wagan’s Heated Seat Cushion. The seat cushion is held down with straps, and it’s powered by plugging it into your car’s lighter outlet. You can even add an adapter for extra when you buy it, letting you use the seat cushion other places, like at your desk.

If price is less of an issue, there are also heated cushions with more features. SNAILAX has a seat cushion that can heat and cool, so it works year-round. It also plugs into the lighter outlet, and this cushion automatically turns off after 30 minutes, helping prevent things like overheating.

Keep your drink warm
Warm drinks are important during the winter, especially if you have to leave the house to go to work or run errands. Whether you’re drinking coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or any other hot beverage, it can sometimes be difficult to keep them warm after leaving home.

Naturally, there are products meant to help combat this issue. The electric mug from GEEPIN is one option. It’s a thermos that plugs into your car’s lighter outlet and keeps the liquid inside it hot. You can also just use it as a kettle and make drinks with it on the go. It seems to heat quickly and get hot enough to take care of those icy winter days.

You might also consider a cup warmer. If you enjoy stopping at a coffee shop to pick up a drink, you can keep it warm with something like the Auto Cafe Take-Out Hot Cup Warmer. Like many of the devices mentioned, it’s powered through your lighter outlet. It fits the typical cup of coffee, plus it only turns on when a cup is placed in it, and it turns off once the cup is removed.

For your devices

Get weather alerts
Making it through winter is a little easier if you’re keeping up to date with the weather. Sometimes, despite checking the weather regularly, something can be missed or come seemingly out of nowhere. Weather alerts are a great way to overcome this issue.

There are many ways to get weather alerts. If you already have a weather app on your device, you probably already have access to alerts. Apps like Accuweather and Weather by WeatherBug have options in the settings to get severe weather alerts. If you have a weather app, check the settings to see if you have this option.

There are also apps that specifically cater to sending weather alerts. There’s AlertsPro, which uses the National Weather Service to provide warnings and alerts. Then there’s NOAA Weather Radar & Alerts (by Apalon Apps), which can even let you get alerts for numerous different locations.

Check in with friends and family
If there’s been a serious winter weather event in your area, your friends and family might be worried about you. If you have the Facebook app (or access to Facebook some other way), you may be able to easily let everyone know you’re okay.

If enough people let Facebook know about a serious event that’s occurred, their Safety Check will be activated. This feature is found in the “Crisis Response” section on Facebook. This feature lets you check in and say you’re okay.

Of course, the situation has to be extremely serious, and Safety Check might not be activated even if you’re in danger. In this case, you might consider simply posting on Facebook that you’re safe and then tagging specific friends and family in a comment to the post. It may not be quite as effective, but it can get some peoples’ attention.

Make a shopping list
Shopping to prepare for a winter storm is usually not particularly fun. Stores can be chaotic if winter weather is coming. One way to get in and out more quickly is to make an easy-to-follow shopping list beforehand.

A shopping list app can be particularly useful. You don’t have to carry paper and a pen, plus you can quickly add and remove things as you need to. Try using a popular app like List Ease (for Android and iOS) or Grocery iQ (for Android and iOS).

Tech Spotlight

Tech Spotlight

Tech Spotlight is back this week with more cool and useful tech! Each week, I’m finding the most interesting or helpful tech-related products on Amazon and telling you all about them. With the new year quickly approaching, consider starting 2018 right with some fun new tech!

Roav by Anker SmartCharge Car Kit F2

Roav is a simple-looking device that can do much more than you might expect. Roav plugs into your car’s lighter socket and helps take care of your music, charging, calling, and car finding needs. It uses Bluetooth or FM radio to let you play your music through your car’s stereo system. You can also use Roav for a hands-free device to make calls while you’re in your vehicle.

While you’re listening or talking, you can charge your devices—it has two USB ports for car charging, and it’s designed to charge quickly. It’s described as using “high-speed charging” no matter what charging cable you’re using and regardless of what device it is.

It also helps you keep track of what’s going on with your car. Using Roav’s app, you can keep up with how your car’s battery is doing. You can also take steps to avoid losing your car. If you’re parking somewhere confusing, or if you tend to forget where you’ve parked in the parking garage, you can use the Roav app to take a picture of your car, set a timer so you don’t run out of time on your meter, and even place a pin at your car’s location so you can find it later using the map.

Roav by Anker is a great multi-purpose device that could potentially consolidate a number of other devices you’re thinking of getting for your car. Take a look at Roav to make your car’s tech a little more convenient.

Mpow 059 Bluetooth Headphones Over Ear

This set of headphones from Mpow is a well-reviewed and affordable choice for your listening needs. The Bluetooth headset works with PCs, phones, TVs, and any other devices with Bluebooth capabilities. It has hi-fi sound and can be used wirelessly or with the cord Mpow provides. Whenever the battery runs low, all you have to do is plug it in and charge it.

The headphones go over your ears, and they use a “memory-protein ear cushion” that’s designed to be soft and comfortable. You can also adjust the headphones so they fit properly. Also, the sliders you use to adjust the headphones are also used to fold them for easy carrying.

Mpow’s headphones also work well for hands-free calling. The headset has a microphone built in, so you can make calls when you’re using the headphones wirelessly.

If you’re looking for great headphones at a great price, check out Mpow’s Bluetooth Headphones!

Osmo Genius Kit

The Genius Kit from Osmo is a great way to take your own devices and turn them into educational tools for the young ones in your life. Osmo Genius Kit requires an iPad to use. With your iPad, there are five available games that let kids (ages 5 to 12) use their hands and learn about subjects like math and spelling.

The Genius Kit also helps kids practice certain skills. For instance, the Masterpiece game helps with drawing skills. The Tangram game works on spatial thinking, and the Newton game lets kids work on their problem-solving skills.

The product looks simple, with the stand for your iPad and some game pieces, but all together, Osmo Genius Kit makes an iPad something completely different. Kids can learn important subjects with just one device and the Genius Kit. Consider getting the Osmo Genius Kit for a child in your life!

Self-driving cars: coming to an area near you sooner than you think

Self-driving cars: coming to an area near you sooner than you think

In early June, House Energy and Commerce Republicans began work on legislation to introduce to Congress June 20th that will clarify the role of the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration in the regulation of Autonomous Vehicles.

That’s right. Robot cars. And before you roll your eyes, let me remind you that they are already among us. Google-owned company Waymo has been testing AVs for years. Apple, Tesla, BMW, Volkswagen, GM, Ford, and Nissan are all racing to get self-driving cars into the public market. Volvo is partnered with Uber to make driverless ride-sharing a thing—though if you ask me, you need at least 2 people to share a ride.

But you may not be able to go straight to hands-free: the term “autonomous” has levels. The NHTSA’s Certification of Automated Driving Systems (ADS) goes from 1-5, with cars at level 1 requiring an alert human operator, and a level 5 vehicle requiring nothing other than navigation input from a passenger.

For AVs to hit the road, they must demonstrate safety at the same level, or greater than, traditional vehicles. NHTSA has issued an exemption from FMVSS (which requires brake pedals and steering wheels, among other things) for 2,500 test vehicles. This sounds like a lot, but if you consider the billions of hours required to be driven to demonstrate safety, 2,500 vehicles aren’t enough. One of the proposals on the table raises the exemption to 100,000 cars.

Some companies, like Tesla and Google, already have self-driving cars in some cities, and the benefits of widely available, fully autonomous cars could be huge for the elderly, the disabled, and the public transportation sector, not to mention reducing intoxicated driving deaths. However, you can’t regulate AVs like regular cars. So far, states have had to figure it out on their own. Maybe that won’t be the case much longer.

What is being proposed?

Many of the AV  proposals currently being discussed are geared toward allowing exemptions of current safety features requirements (like brake pedals and steering wheels) to allow testing, develop a framework for cross-industry information sharing (to avoid making the same mistake twice), and begin development of technology geared toward helping underserved populations (such as the elderly and the disabled).

One thing is clear: legislators from both sides of the House want to get self-driving cars on the road. However, how to regulate them may not be unanimously agreed upon.

Having a federal standard for AV manufacture and operation is going to be the major determining factor in how soon car manufacturers can move forward with tests and, possibly, production. If every state is allowed to impose regulations, driving an AV across state lines could pose a problem.

However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been reluctant to impose many standards that might slow development of budding technology, leaving AV largely unregulated for the moment. NHTSA mainly oversees licensing, registration, and road maintenance currently, not vehicle safety.

There is a lot of excitement surrounding this issue right now, and I can see why. Driverless cars may be coming to an area near you sooner than you think—for that matter, public transportation may be coming to an area near you (I live in a place where you can drive, or you can walk. End of list).

Can you see yourself in a car without a steering wheel? Or does the idea make you nervous? Tweet at me! @easyinternetnow, or @willreadforfood.