Every month the bill comes in, and every month I shake my head when I log in and pay my $100-plus cell phone bill. Unfortunately, that’s the cost of doing business with high-end equipment and service. Given how my job depends on technology, it seems like an inevitable expenditure.
If anything, the high cost of smartphone service motivates me to get the most out of it. Why ignore a marketplace full of useful applications, especially when they can measurably improve my life? Throughout the years I’ve increased my dependence on my smartphone for monitoring general life activities. Here are the ones that prove most useful.
You can’t browse Google Play for very long without running into some kind of fitness application. The range of quality obviously varies, but there are plenty of excellent and free apps that let you keep track of your fitness regimen. These apps range from simple record-keepers to advanced apps that hook up with different bits of hardware.
In fact, the recently released FitBit One works perfectly with your smartphone. You clip it to yourself and it measure your daily activity, syncing with your smartphone periodically. Sure, the FitBit costs $100, and then there’s the $100 monthly smartphone service on top of that. But I’m paying the latter cost anyway, and the FitBit gives me a good way to get more value for that money.
Trust me when I say your smartphone can help you turn around your finances Throughout my 20s I was terrible with money. Once I earned it, I spent it — and oftentimes spent more than I earned. In a fair amount of credit card debt, plus student loans, and it made for a grim financial picture. Using my smartphone to help monitor my finances has turned that around considerably.
It starts with a banking app. Just by being able to check my balance on a whim, I’m less likely to spend. Then there are finance apps that take care of monitoring my finances for me. Not only do I get an overview of all my accounts from the Mint app, but I also get money management tips that help me best allocate my funds. And all it takes is loading up an app on my smartphone.
When it was first becoming popular, the iPod advertised that it could hold 10,000 of your favorite songs. That seemed impressive at the time; the average music consumer didn’t even have 10,000 songs available digitally. But soon we realized that 1) it’s easy to build a 10,000-song library, and 2) higher audio quality reduces the number of songs available. Now that we have music on our smartphones, though, the game has changed entirely.
In 2011 Google released perhaps its most exciting product with Google Play Music. It automatically syncs with your iTunes library, so you don’t need a new music management software (which works well for the millions of iPod users out there). Every time you add music to your library, it automatically uploads to the cloud, for up to 20,000 songs. Wherever your Android smartphone goes, so goes your music. Since transfers over WiFi are fast and free, my Android has become my primary music device.
Time was, if you were away from a TV you’d miss the big game. Then alone came basic cell phones and the mobile web, which allowed you to check scores. Smartphones gave you an easier, faster interface for checking. Honestly, the ability to check scores and keep up with play-by-play has been a huge revolution in sports consumption. But it has gotten so much better.
The number of live sports streaming services has jumped lately. Sports leagues and broadcast channels are still afraid to give away most of these streams, since they can detract from advertising dollars. But done correctly, they can provide an excellent streaming experience for fans while earning producers more money.
Do you have your priorities straight? In this interconnected and jumbled world that is the web, we can often lose sight of what’s important for what’s new. The latest IM, the latest tweet, the latest status update can distract you from what is really important. If there is one failing of the digital age, it is the lack of prioritization.
One way I stay on track is through a task list. I use Toodledo task manager on my desktop, and it’s honestly one of the best services I use. Yet there are times when I get ideas I want to record and tasks that I want to set, but am not near my computer. Mobile is the perfect solution. I’ve downloaded an app that syncs with Toodledo, so I can update my task list whenever an idea strikes me.
6. Coffee habit
Like most digital workers, I fuel myself with coffee. That sometimes means brewing a pot at home. But when I’m on the road I often need that caffeine jolt. While local coffee shops can be great, they’re too often inconsistent. I want a big, strong cup of coffee to get me going.
Starbucks fills that need. Their app is great, because it gives you a way to pay at the store. Just load in your Starbucks card, and you can scan your smartphone at a register. No need to pull out the wallet. Plus, it leads to getting free coffee.
7. The weather
We live in a world of climate controlled indoor environments. When I wake up it is perfectly pleasant. Yet I have no idea what it’s like outside. Opening a window can help, but doesn’t really give me a sense of what I should wear. All I have to do is wake up my smartphone, though, and I see the current temperature. Slide down the notification bar and I can see conditions. Click on the icon, and I get all the detail I want.
That’s the beauty of the AccuWeather. It has detailed information, plus the notification widget, so I always know what it’s like even as I bask in climate controlled comfort.