5 Recommened Apps

by Frank Martin

Whether you have an iPhone or an Android in your pocket, there are way more apps available than anyone could possibly test out in a single human lifetime. With that in mind I thought I’d share some of the apps I’ve found useful and use regularly. I use a number of apps most people probably use, like social media clients, etc, so I’ve left those out, and limited myself to more unusual fare instead.

1: Headspace/Buddhify: Headspace is a great app to learn to meditate and get in the habit of doing it daily. Its a series of guided mindfulness meditation sessions that get progressively longer and more intricate as they go on. The app also has a mindfulness buzzer, which will pop up a notification anywhere from one to five times a day at random. There are great dedicated apps for this, the best and the one I’ve used off and on is simply called “Mindfulness Bell.” The advantage to the Headspace feature is the fact that it plays your alert sound, not a bell like the dedicated app, so its significantly less obtrusive. Headspace is free for the first ten days, then a subscription on a sliding scale afterwards.

Buddhify is a less structured app, being a collection of guided meditations focused on teaching mindfulness during everyday activities (ie the vast majority are intended to be used while your’e actually doing something else). This is a solid compliment to Headspace, though it could certainly be used on its own. It also has a dedicated meditation timer without audio, though its restricted to specific increments topping out at 60 minutes. If you’re looking for something more flexible I highly recommend Insight Timer, which I used for ages and continue to use on occasion. Buddhify is available for both iPhone and Android, and has a one time price-tag of less than $5.

2: Lastpass: This is quite possibly the greatest password management system ever conceived. It stores all your passwords behind a master password and lets you generate secure passwords that are just about as long as you want (some of my passwords are between twenty and fifty characters). It also monitors your accounts to let you know if any have the same password. While this is most useful when you first start using the app, it also warns you if an account is using your master password, which can be a major security risk.

3: Lookout: Do you have a smart phone? If you do, you need this app. Lookout is everything from a virus detection/deletion app to internet security, to theft protection. It’ll keep an eye on things when you’re online to let you know if something hinky is going on, and if you have a premium account and your phone gets stolen, you can have it do all sorts of fun things, like take a picture with the front facing camera if someone tries to unlock the phone too many times, show its location on a map on the software’s website, and even wipe the phone. Sure, there’s built in software that can do some of these things, but not all of them. Lookout is a subscription service, but for peace of mind its pretty darn cheap.

4: Circa: I went through a faze where I just ignored the news altogether. I still don’t bother with TV news, newspapers, or internet news sites for the most part, but Circa is an integral part of my morning routine. Basically the app gives you a daily briefing of the most important stories, and its actual news, as in the facts of the events without anything else. An actual no spin zone. A lot of the articles are crazy long, but the morning brief, called the Wire gives you about a paragraph summary of each story with the option to read more. One of my favorite features of this app is the ability to follow stories. Basically if you read a story you want to keep up with, you push a button that says “follow” and pops up a notification whenever there’s new developements in the story.

5: I told myself I wasn’t going to highlight any games, but had to give a shout out to INGRESS. The game is essentially about a battle between an evil organisation and a group trying to defeat them, but it uses GPS to interact with the real world, meaning that if you want to play the game, you have to be willing to be active and possibly look a bit goofy in public. Defintiely one of the more inventive games I’ve seen.