Review

Five Awesome Apps

Disclaimer: I’ve only ever had Android phones, and all these apps are free. I just wanted to share some ways I keep my life together instead of having it all fall apart.

1. Grana

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Screenshots from the Google Playstore.

Grana is an awesome budgeting app. If you’re a student it’s important to start budgeting early on so it becomes a habit. It’s a lot easier (and faster) to spend money than to earn money, so this app can help keep track of expenses. It’s a practical way know where each part of your income goes. C’mon, it’ll help you save up for that thing you really want. I know it.

This app is helpful because it divides expenses and income into categories. When you buy anything, you can it put it into a category whether that be: food, clothing, books, pet expenses, rent, transit, anything you want! You can make up your own categories too. Income can be divided into payments, salaries, gifts, savings, etc… as well. The distributions are shown as pie charts with percentages. It allows for easy visuals to determine where most of your income goes, whether it is unspent, goes to rent, goes to transit, or maybe most of it is spent on groceries. If you eat out a lot, it’ll show that if you remember to track to each purchase with this app. You can even specify if you ate at McDonalds or something fancier for a date.

Budgeting is important because it’s important to save part of your income, to make sure you don’t spend more than you have, to ensure that you’re not wasting too much on unnecessary expenses. Eating out can be a lot more expensive than cooking your own food! Even if you don’t have any those worries I just listed, this is a great app just to help keep track of that hard-earned money.

2. Goodreads

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My “to-read” list is already 190, I can’t afford to meet another book right now.

Onto something less financial, Goodreads is the perfect app for everyone and anyone who loves to read, or even wants to get into reading on the regular. This app (or website too) is used to manage your books. If you’ve read something, give it a rating out of 5 stars and it goes on to your “read” list. If you want to read something, put it on your “to-read” list. And if you’ve got your nose buried in a good book right now, put that book on your “currently reading” list. Even manga, comics, cookbooks, textbooks, all kinds of books!Β For example, you’re at the bookstore or the library and you see a book you really want to read. You can use the app to scan the barcode and pop that book into a “to-read” list.Β And voila, that’s how you can manage your books.

I found this app helpful because I’m a bookworm. I love to devour my books and go onto the next one. However, I don’t buy every book I read. I go to the library a lot or borrow from friends. This app acts like a bookshelf on my phone just to visualize every book I’ve ever read. I can easily see my initial perception of this book with the rating I gave it. You’ll be surprised too, you’ve read a lot more than you think. I’m at around 690 books read, including picture books though, so it’s not that impressive…

The greatest thing about this app is that you can search for countless books based on genres, authors, or similar books to the ones you’ve read and loved. Or if you remember just part of a title of a book, it can help in a search. Goodreads also gives recommendations based on your ratings and reading habits. Some people think Goodreads gives good recommendations, others think it doesn’t. I’m one of those that have found quite a few favourite books based on their algorithm (like Moloka’i). Though, there are other ways to discover great books to read on Goodreads as well. You can follow what friends are reading (if they have the app), even authors or celebrities that have accounts! Emma Watson, Neil Gaiman, and even J.K. Rowling have accounts. Maybe you’ll have a favourite book in common!

3. My Fitness Pal

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Screenshots from the My Fitness Pal website, because I’m too embarrassed to show my eating habits…

This app is excellent for anyone trying to lose weight and eat healthier. Even if you’re not, it’s a great app for calorie counting and watching one’s nutrient intake. Trust me, it’s important what your body eats. Too much sugar is bad. Too much fat is bad. It’s a balance that is required to keep that body rocking and dancing. Or running and playing tennis. Or swimming. Whatever you’re into, really.

So how to start using is you put in your weight, height, birth date, and your goal. Whether you want to maintain your weight, lose weight, gain weight. It calculates an appropriate amount of calories to eat per day, as well as nutrient goals for fats, protein, carbohydrate, sugar, and so on. Like Grana, this app has pretty little pie charts to show you the percentages of macro-nutrients one’s eating.

So everyday you put in what you eat. You can scan the barcodes of packaged food or input your own recipes. You can also search for food by name too; a lot of nutritional information is readily available. They have a lot of information of Starbucks drinks and other restaurants. It’s pretty easy and it takes less than a minute to put what you ate. You can preemptively search for food too, view the nutritional information, and then decide if you want to eat it or not too. I do that a lot. It’s all in the quest to be as healthy as I can be.

4. Neko Atsume

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A screenshot from Neko Atsume, and it’s adorable!! AWWW

The reason I love this app so much is that it’s a peaceful, relaxing game that doesn’t require too much attention. In our hectic lives, everyone needs a cute little game like this where you can just look at adorable cats for a moment. So Neko Atsume is a app where you place furniture or toys, exit the app, and return at later moment to find cats playing with the toys or sitting lovingly on the furniture. It sounds simple, and it is! That’s all there is too it. There’s rare cats which are easy to spot because they wear clothes. The common ones look like regular cats. There’s one rare cat called Peaches that looks like a regular cat. Then the cats leave gold fish or silver fish for you after they leave and then you use that to buy new furniture and toys, or to expand/renovate the house.Β All for the cats. In real life, this would be a problem. In this little game, it’s awesome and not crazy at all!

It’s a kitty collector game. You can take pictures of the cats when they visit. You can name them (although they already come with names). You leave them some food. And that’s about it. You close the app. Wait. Open it. Close it. Wait. Open it. And so on and on. Nothing will change while you have the app open. So it’s a very passive game. It doesn’t require constant attention and the cats won’t get mad if you don’t visit for a while. Also, sometimes the cats leave small gifts, but you can’t do anything with them. It’s just nice to know your efforts were appreciated by the kitties.

5. Transit

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No, I don’t live in New York City. I live somewhere a little more boring.

Lastly, this app is just helpful for anyone who relies on public transportation, like me. It doesn’t matter which city you live in, put in your location on this app and it will tell you bus routes and bus times. It will do other modes of transportation too, like subways or trains. If the buses have GPS times, it will use that to determine in real-time that the bus will take to get to the stop nearest to you. It’s helpful if you need to commute on the regular so you won’t miss the public transit. It’s frustrating when you have to run after a bus that won’t stop for you. Or if the bus is super late. This app can help take away some of that stress.

Another way this help can be useful is if you’re traveling. This app will tell you the routes and which buses to take. It can be daunting in a new place, but with this some of the worry is gone. You can track the bus and route, it’ll tell you which stop to get off too. It’s a small urban commuting friend. I would recommend this app to all users of public transit. It’s just so amazing for planning routes and trips. And good on all of you for not driving, that helps keeps some cars off the road.

All of these apps are free, and if any of them sound like something you’re interested in, check them out!

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