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.

Barnes & Noble’s New Book Recommendation App

Barnes & Noble’s New Book Recommendation App

Bookworms rejoice! Barnes and Noble, the popular bookseller, has released a new app for finding new book recommendations and connecting with other readers.

Barnes and Noble’s new app is called Browsery, and it’s intended to help readers discover books to read in a more personal way than some other apps. The bookseller is calling the app “[t]he first app that talks about books the way you do.”

Instead of adding books to a shelf and having other titles automatically suggested to you based on algorithms, users of the Browsery app will join a community of readers. When you use the app, you can ask specific questions looking for recommendations. Then the other people using the app can offer book recommendations. Once a recommendation has been posted, others can say whether they agree with the recommendation, making it easier to verify that a book really does fit the criteria. You can also, of course, offer recommendations to other users yourself. You can talk about the recommendations and even follow them. And as you use the app, you create a list of books you’ve read, helping you keep track of what you’ve found through the app so far.

This is a fairly different concept when compared to other bookshelf-building apps. Other apps typically let you do more to build a shelf of all the books you’ve owned and read (which Browsery doesn’t particularly focus on), but they also aren’t usually built around getting personalized suggestions. They often just suggest books based on what you’ve already read.

Barnes and Noble actually lists some examples of questions people might ask when looking for recommendations. Recommendation requests can center on pretty much anything you’d like. You might ask for a favorite children’s book on a particular topic, a book everyone should read before they die, a book that foreshadowed modern times, or anything else that piques your interest.

Browsery is now available on Android and iOS. Head over to the Barnes and Noble website to find out more.

Switch Things Up with a Keyboard App

Switch Things Up with a Keyboard App

If you’re using a smartphone, chances are you’re using the keyboard that came pre-installed. And depending on the phone, you might like it just fine.

But if you don’t like your keyboard, or if you think it could be better, you have options. Here are just some of the most popular and well-received keyboard apps you can try!

ai.type Keyboard

This keyboard is designed to offer lots of fun functions. You can change the layout of the keyboard, as well as its color, font, and more. It offers hundreds of emojis. It also has things like swipe capability, text prediction, autocorrect, voice narration, and even autosuggested emojis.
Cost: Free (with ads)
Available for: Android & iOS

Chrooma

This keyboard is meant to be smart and quick instead of bogging down your phone. You can change the color and personalize it in other ways, as well. It has predictive text, swipe capabilities, one hand mode, night mode, and more. It also has fun features, like a GIF search and emoji suggestion.
Cost: Free (with ads)
Available for: Android

Fleksy

This keyboard is a fun and colorful option. It proclaims itself the “fastest keyboard in the world.” It offers a customizable keyboard, easy gesture control, text prediction, and more. It lets you add extensions, like the GIF, Number Row, and Stickers extensions, and there are three keyboard sizes to choose from.
Cost: Free (premium features at a cost)
Available for: Android & iOS

Gboard

This keyboard from Google is a clean and fast keyboard choice. You can text using your voice, swipe (using their “glide typing”), share content from Google searches, translate, and use gestures. It also lets you search and use emojis and GIFs.
Cost: Free
Available for: Android & iOS

Minuum

This keyboard calls itself “the little keyboard for big fingers.” It’s designed to be a small keyboard that takes up less space without being difficult to use. It offers what it refers to as “sloppy typing,” meaning you can type quickly while it figures out what you’re trying to write. You can change the keyboard layout, get word predictions, search for definitions, gesture, get suggested emojis, use voice typing, and more.
Cost: $3.99 (free version offers limited features)
Available for: Android & iOS

SwiftKey

This keyboard focuses on its ability to learn your patterns and give better suggestions the longer you use it. It has autocorrect, predicted words, themes and customizable keyboards, swipe capabilities, an emoji keyboard, suggested emojis, and more. It can even learn your style better by accessing your previous texts and accounts.
Cost: Free
Available for: Android & iOS 

Swype

This keyboard is one of the most popular swipe-based keyboards. Swype gets better at understanding how you communicate the more you use it, and using your account, you don’t have to start over again if you switch to a new device. You can customize the keyboard, including its layout and design. The keyboard also offers swipe capabilities, predictive text, voice to text, gestures, and more.
Cost: $.99
Available for: Android & iOS

Typany

This keyboard is your brightly colored and fun keyboard alternative. You can create your own themes, make your own emojis, share drawings, use themes, and more. It has features like autocorrect and keyboard personalization, as well as voice to text. They also have what they call “text bang,” which lets you easily edit what you’ve typed. There’s even an emoji keyboard, including text-based emoticons.
Cost: Free (with ads)
Available for: Android & iOS

Apple Updates—Animoji, AR Upgrades, & Battery Life

Apple Updates—Animoji, AR Upgrades, & Battery Life

A lot has been going on with Apple over the past week or so. Quite a bit of news has come out about Apple devices, particularly concerning the future release of iOS 11.3 later in Spring. Here are just a few of the things you may have missed recently!

New Animoji will be added

When iOS 11.3 is released, you can expect new Animoji to be released with it! A preview from Apple has announced that four more Animoji will be added, joining the currently available twelve.

As you might know, animoji are the animated emoji that have been available on iOS 11 since late last year. Using animoji, you can make certain characters move based on your own movements and facial expressions. Some of the previously available animoji include a pig, an alien, a panda, and a unicorn.

The new animoji will include two typical animals—a bear and a lion—as well as the fun-sounding skull and dragon.

Apple’s augmented reality has been upgraded

Apple’s preview also discusses their new upgrades to their augmented reality (AR) technology. ARKit 1.5, the newest version of Apple’s AR tech, has been released for developers, and with it comes some cool new updates.

Previously, ARKit could allow users to place objects on horizontal surfaces (like, say, the floor). With ARKit 1.5, users will be able to also place objects on vertical surfaces (such as walls). This is a huge upgrade, making Apple’s AR experience even more compelling. In addition, users will be able to point their phone at a flat item (like a picture on a wall), and their phone will use AR to display any available facts about the item if it’s recognized by the system. For example, if you were visiting an art gallery, you could perhaps use Apple’s AR to find more information about certain pieces you were looking at.

iPhone slowdown to become optional

You may recall hearing a lot of talk last month about how iPhones were being slowed down. People were reporting that their iPhones seemed to slow down over time. Eventually Apple confirmed the speeds of these iPhones were being throttled, says CNN Money, though it wasn’t for some nefarious reason.

According to an open letter from Apple, iPhones were being slowed in order to prevent phones from being shut off as the phones’ batteries aged. Many people were upset this slowdown hadn’t been properly communicated to them, leading to Apple offering a heavily discounted battery replacement for certain affected customers.

Now Apple is going to make things even more transparent and open by allowing users to decide whether their iPhones are slowed down. In their iOS 11.3 preview, Apple describes their upcoming performance feature settings. These settings will make it possible to see whether your phone is set to slow down (preventing your phone from shutting down unexpectedly as your battery ages). If it is set to be throttled, you’ll be able to switch off this feature.

For more about what Apple is up to, take a look at their Newsroom.

Keep Up to Date with a Calendar App

Keep Up to Date with a Calendar App

If you have events or reminders to keep track of, you probably make good use of calendars. And since you likely have a mobile device, it’s safe to assume you take advantage of your phone’s or tablet’s calendar. Thankfully, tablets and phones typically come with some kind of calendar app preinstalled, but what if something better is available?

The calendar app you need will very likely depend on what you’re primarily going to use it for and what works best for reminding you of your schedule. Some people remember to check their calendar every day, some remember what day an event is but can’t remember the details, some need loud and persistent reminders. Because of all this, your day to day life can be made a little easier with the right app.

The most important things to look for when choosing an app are that it has what you specifically need, doesn’t take up more space than you can reasonably offer, and comes from a reputable developer. With that in mind, here are just some of the cool and useful calendar apps waiting to be downloaded.

aCalendar

This calendar app is available for free in the Play store. Some of its main features include the ability to show different views (day, week, month, year, agenda, etc.), customize colors, connect with Google Calendar, place widgets, see moon phases, and share events. These are all available in the free version of the app. There are many more features in the paid version.

Awesome Calendar

This calendar app is available for $9.99 in the App Store. This app can sync with the other calendars available for iOS. Some main features include the ability to set custom alarms, add stickers and notes, see your calendar in different views, include photos, show the weather, share information, and customize the appearance.

Business Calendar 2

This calendar app is available for free in the Play store. Business Calendar 2 is not just for business! Some of its main features center on being able to set up events and tasks, look at multiple different views, sync with other calendars, use voice input, and place widgets. You also have multiple options for your different calendar views. Especially cool is the heat map that shows your free and busy days. These are just some of the features from this free app.

CloudCal

This calendar app is available for free in the Play store. This app is a colorful and fun calendar option. Some of its main features include syncing with other calendars, multiple calendar views, plenty of reminder options, themes, and widgets. Most importantly, it has Magic Circles, which is a feature that gives you a visual of when you’re free or busy.

Cozi

This calendar app is available for free in the Play store or in the App Store. This app is specifically meant to help families stay on top of events and agendas. Some of its features are the shared calendar, color-coding, automated agenda emails, shopping & to-do lists, a family journal, and widgets.

DigiCal

This calendar app is available for free in the Play store. Some of the biggest features of this app are the multiple agenda views, widgets, weather forecasts, themes and customizable colors, and location search. These are all in the free version. The paid version has even more features, plus you can also pay a fee to add premium calendars that add events to your calendar for you (for things like sports and holidays).

Fantastical 2

This calendar app is available for $2.99 in the App Store. Just some of this app’s features include the ability to use “natural language” when entering events, customize reminders and alerts, view maps, and share events. This app prides itself on being visually pleasing, as well as working in an intuitive and natural way.

My Study Life

This calendar app is available for free in the Play store and in the App Store. This app is primarily focused on helping students stay organized. Some of its main features are its ability to save information to the cloud, keep up with homework, remember your class schedule, and get notifications about things like due dates and class times.

Amazon App Includes AR for Some iPhones

Amazon App Includes AR for Some iPhones

The Amazon app is getting way better for certain Apple users with its new augmented reality shopping tool. Sometimes it can be difficult to decide which items you want to buy on Amazon, especially when it comes to items for the home. With the Amazon app, some shoppers can now actually see what the product will look like in their house.

In an announcement about their upcoming holiday plans, Amazon also explained their new AR view. This cool new AR feature is available for shoppers using the Amazon app on an iPhone 6S or later that has iOS 11 on it. The app uses Apple’s ARKit to let people place certain items on their screen and view it in whatever area the phone is pointed at. Shoppers simply click the camera button and select the AR view to try it out. Amazon’s announcement mentions that there are “thousands” of products to choose from in AR view and that you can check out the items in a 360° view with the new feature.

As The Verge mentions, other apps, like IKEA and Target, have previously begun to offer their own augmented reality shopping experiences. Also, as Tech Crunch points out, Amazon dabbled a bit in AR shopping with their (pretty unsuccessful) AR stickers. But Amazon’s new offering is exciting for a number of reasons. For one thing, there are a lot of different items to choose from—it’s not horribly limited. Also, the products look pretty real, as you can see in Amazon’s YouTube video. The video shows items being moved and rotated using one or two fingers, respectively, so it also seems easy to use. There are different categories to scroll through and choose from, as shown in the video, so again, there’s a wide array of choices.

And of course, it’s Amazon. Amazon is a giant in the world of shopping, as we all know, so having this cool new tech just makes them even more enticing. If you’ve got an iPhone 6S or later and have iOS 11 installed, see if AR view in the Amazon app has rolled out to you now.

Stranger Things Video Game Released

Stranger Things Video Game Released

Stranger Things is coming back on October 27th, and as if people weren’t amped up enough, Netflix has released “Stranger Things: The Game.” Stranger Things is a Netflix original show with sci-fi and horror elements, as well as strong pop culture nostalgia. The show is set in 1980s Indiana and centers on strange occurrences during the search for a missing boy. The show became a huge hit, forming an enormous fanbase and receiving critical praise, including quite a few Emmy nominations. The second season is coming soon, and it’s been confirmed there will be a third season, the announcement coming before season two is even released. Stranger Things is certainly popular, so it only makes sense to play off of the show’s strong nostalgia and release a video game.

The game was just released this week, and it’s free to play on mobile devices. The game is available through the App Store from Apple and through Google Play for Android. It’s from Netflix and BonusXP, Inc., and it’s a retro game for teens and adults who are fans of the show. The action adventure game lets you explore the Indiana town the show is set in, visiting familiar areas and places you may not have seen before. The game also features puzzles, and it incorporates characteristics and abilities from the characters seen in the show. The 16-bit graphics and old-school music and sounds will make anyone who’s played 80s video games, either in the 80s or maybe more recently in an arcade, feel like it’s a blast from the past. The trailer for the game features fighting, a car chase, and creepy creatures. “Stranger Things: The Game” has two different difficult levels—Normal and Classic—and an important aspect of the game is collecting different items, including Eggos. Collecting items could unlock special content, and there’s even the possibility that players could unlock special content from the upcoming second season.

The game has excited a lot of people and is already receiving good reviews; it’s rated 4.9 out of 5 stars on Google Play and 4.8 out of 5 in the App Store. If you want to see what all the fuss is about and join the fun before the second season premieres, check out “Stranger Things: The Game” in Google Play or the App Store.

(Featured image: Google Play)

The Image Format Replacing JPG on Apple Devices

The Image Format Replacing JPG on Apple Devices

There have been an awful lot of image formats over the years. Most people know about JPGs and GIFs (oh, GIFs—they’re everywhere, now even taking over Facebook comment sections). People also often use PNGs and vectors for their images. All of these different image formats do slightly different things; for instance, JPGs are typically best at displaying photographs, GIFs are most commonly used for animations, PNG photos are best for images with lots of color, and vectors (which use the filename SVG) are currently better for things like logos or any other designs that are not as complicated as, say, photographs.

Now Apple is helping spread the use of an image format you probably haven’t heard of: HEIC. HEIC is an image extension that means High Efficiency Image File Format (called HEIF elsewhere). This format is now used by default on Apple devices that have macOS High Sierra (on Macs) or iOS 11 (on other devices) installed. The new image format is able to keep images looking great while making the file size smaller than with most other image formats, according to Macworld. Many are excited for this change, and for good reason. Being able to take beautiful photos without taking up a load of space is a great improvement, and though it hasn’t really happened yet, it’s possible HEIC could eventually overshadow JPGs completely if the format catches on.

Some had been previously worried about how it would work when they shared their HEIC images. There were concerns that people without iOS 11 or High Sierra would not be able to see these new files. However, when sharing these photos through an app, your photo will be uploaded as a JPG, and when transferring photos to your computer, you’ll have the option to switch your HEIC photos to a different format. The only real issues at the moment might be with cloud storage and transferring files from one device to another. The Verge points out that your HEIC files might be uploaded to the cloud, and in some of those cloud services, you might find it difficult to view your images on devices that don’t yet support HEIC. And when it comes to transferring between devices, if you save your images as HEIC on, say, a flash drive, then try to open those images on a non-compatible device, you might end up having to go to the trouble to use an image converter.

Aside from these very minor concerns, HEIC does seem like a contender when it comes to quality image formats. If you’re using iOS 11 on your device, you’re likely taking photos in the HEIC format, and it’s possible you’ll save a lot of space because of it. If you still want JPGs instead, you can turn it off, of course, but give HEIC a try and see what you think.

iOS 11 and Snapchat: Who’s Saving Your Snaps?

iOS 11 and Snapchat: Who’s Saving Your Snaps?

In case you missed it, the iPhone X has been in the news pretty much every day recently, and so has iOS 11, the new update for the iPhone operating system. iOS 11 has a number of new and updated features, but the one a lot of people are talking about is its easy-to-use screen recording feature. It was possible to record your iPhone’s screen before, but iOS 11 makes it much easier to do—a fact that has had some people excited, but some people pretty worried.

Being able to record the phone screen on an iPhone can come in handy for many different reasons. Some people may want to record themselves going through a process on the phone so they can upload it and teach people how to do something. Others might want to use it for viral video purposes. Or someone might want to record themselves doing something big, like sending an important message and getting a reply, applying for college, or anything that might be a memorable moment. People have had plenty of reasons to record their phone screens in the past, and iOS 11 just makes it much more accessible.

Mixed in with the positive response, though, was a huge concern: what would happen on Snapchat? Rumors began to swirl that the screen recording feature would allow iPhone users to record peoples’ Snaps secretly, bypassing Snapchat’s feature that tells users when their photos have been saved and who saved them. One huge draw for Snapchat is that the photos aren’t permanent, and if someone screenshots something, the original photo-taker can know who saved their photo onto their device. The idea of people being able to save photos and videos without identifying themselves had some people panicked.

It seems there’s good news and bad news. Fortunately, it’s been shown that Snapchat does, in fact, notify users when their direct messages have been recorded with the iPhone’s screen recorder. It doesn’t specify how it was saved, but it does still say that the Snap has been screenshotted. However, MacRumors tested the screen recorder on Snapchat and found that while it does notify for private messages, it doesn’t quite work with Stories, so be aware that you might not know if your Stories are being recorded.

Also important to note is that MacRumors also tested on Instagram Direct—a feature of Instagram that lets users send non-permanent photos—and the screen recorder did not alert the other user that a screenshot had been taken of their content. So while the issue with Snapchat is not much of a concern, be careful with your Instagram Direct messages until more is known about their screenshot alerts.