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5 SMART PHONE APPS YOU NEED NOW

Sep, 05 2013

Do you remember life before smart phones and apps? Imagine leaving your house without your wallet. Would you go back? Now, imagine leaving your house without your phone. I bet you’d go back. After all, I can pay for my morning Starbucks with my phone! 

It’s amazing how quickly we forget what it was like to use a phone book, look for our destination on a map unfolded on the hood of a car, actually call a restaurant to make a reservation or write the amount of a check in a checkbook. Yes, all these activities took place just 5 short years ago for most of us. Smart phones have really become a way of life and I, for one, could not live without mine!

Here’s just one example of an interaction I had over Labor Day weekend: My friends and I are hanging out in Seattle by Lake Washington and we get hungry. I pulled up the Open Table App and booked our dinner reservations to Ray’s. I used Google Maps App to find the directions to Ray’s and Starbucks App to buy an after dinner coffee. At the end of it all, I used Bodywise App to log my calories (SO cool, except for that calorie-counter thing).

Today, I’m sharing 5 great apps I use that save me time, money and frustration!

Zite:  www.zite.com

Zite is an intelligent digital newspaper.  Zite learns your interests and reading habits and gets smarter as you use it. You will get the best of the web completely tailored to your unique interests. Zite has over 40,000 topics to choose from: foodie, fashionista, travel, business, leadership, entrepreneurship, funny, etc. As I read articles, I tell Zite what I like and what I don’t like and it gets smarter! Zite is constantly tracking the sources, topics, writing style, article length and authors I like, so it can serve up articles I’ll want to read. Zite was built on years of artificial intelligence research and I am constantly surprised at its pinpoint accuracy (and a little scared when it sends me funny puppy stories – how does it know?). 

Mint:  www.mint.com

Mint is a personal finance service.  Mint offers access to all your financial “stuff” via their website and your smart phone - banking, credit cards, loans, investments, etc. Mint does all the work of organizing and categorizing your spending for you. You can see where every dime goes and make money decisions you feel good about. It’s very easy to setup and manage - even a fashion girl such as myself has been able to maintain it for over two years. All my financial accounts seamlessly download to the app and it's updated every time I visit. In addition, I get these great alerts from Mint: late fees, over budget (always shoes, of course), bill reminders, rate changes and large purchases.  

Open Table:  www.opentable.com

Open Table is your personal concierge! This app offers a real-time restaurant reservation service and you get points for using it. You can search for best restaurants, new restaurants, available restaurants, restaurants near you or restaurants that get you additional points. Each restaurant has customer reviews and ratings - I ALWAYS use the service to determine if this is a place I am going to love. It then allows you to book online or in the app and you get points - 2000 points gets me a $20.00 certificate to use at a restaurant of my choice.

Yelp:  www.yelp.com

Yelp is like having a local “know-it-all” as your BFF! I moved to Seattle 6 months ago and have found a great hair stylist, nail salon, dog groomer, interior decorator, dry cleaner, shoe repair and much more using this app. I can say it has literally changed my life!  Simply enter the type of business you want to find (“dog groomer”) and the location (“near Eastlake”) and it produces the “best matches”. Each match is rated & reviewed by other Yelp users, virtually helping you to make the best choice. Once you’ve made your decision, Yelp provides you with the business website, address, phone number and directions. I have not had any issues with the top yelp-rated businesses I’ve used!  

Evernote: www.evernote.com

Evernote is like a brain backup! This is the app to turn to when you need help remembering ANYthing.  And thanks to its near universal presence on every platform, your memory bank is never far. I record a random thought about a project I’m working on, make a note about a website I’d like to use again, create a to-do list, save articles I’d like to reference in the future - all right on my smartphone. Even better, I travel a lot, so it’s great to have everything in one place and available at my fingertips at all times! I pull up Evernote on my smart phone, work computer or iPad in NY, Seattle, Vegas, etc. There's a LOT to Evernote, so click here for a great article about other creative uses!  

Now it’s your turn, what are your favorite apps?  What can’t you live without?  Comment below and share with us!

Tonia Degner

Tonia has been a leader in the retail and tech industries for 20+ years with a focus on driving vision and growth strategies in large volume business sectors. Her most recent experience includes Director positions at Amazon where she implemented complex company-wide enhancements, led the launch of innovative products, and created disruptive strategies. She joined freshbenies as Chief Strategy Officer because of her passion to provide practical tools that simplify the American healthcare experience.

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