The apps to download today that will make day-to-day living just that little bit easier…

Technology can get a bad rep when it comes to our productivity. Those hours lost ‘zombie scrolling’ social media, or days frittered away on Netflix box-sets can, of course, derail where we put our energy, but what about the clever apps that can help us find a parking space, teach us a foreign language, or do our banking for us? Here are the life hack apps to download today that will make day-to-day living just that little bit easier…

Dark Sky


The perfect seasonal download, weather apps don’t get much geekier or accurate than Dark Sky. This hyper-local forecast can tell you, to-the-minute, when it’s going to start (and crucially) stop raining for your exact location. Set up notifications to ensure that you never get caught in a shower and watch the hypnotic radar images of rain clouds passing overhead. Perfect for the school run or fair-weather cyclists alike.

Appy Parking


Ever driven round and round looking for parking? If you ever find yourself unsure what the restrictions are on a Saturday, or you turn up to the car park only to find it’s full, Appy Parking can solve all your parking headaches. The clever map shows available on-street parking in your location, highlighting ‘red areas’ that are restricted. There are live updates on car park availability and you can compare parking prices at a glance, too.

Plant Snap


For the keen yet clueless botanist, the Plant Snap app could come in handy. Simply take a pic of an unidentified flower, tree, succulent, fungi or plant and the app will use the 625,000 entries on its database to tell you the name and details of your flora find with 94 per cent accuracy. Great if you’ve inherited a new garden and want to learn the lie of the land, or a fun family game to make country walks a learning experience, too.

Shazam


Need to name that tune that’s been bugging you for weeks? Can’t stop humming along to the radio and want to download the track for yourself? The Shazam app is used by more than 100 million music lovers a month; you simply hold your phone up to the radio or speaker and Shazam will let you know the artist and the track name. Link the app to your Apple Music and purchase the song at the tap of a button. You can also see what artists including Drake, Bruno Mars, Justin Bieber and Ed Sheeran are Shazaming right now and discover more music by your favourite musicians too.

Duolingo


Three hundred million language lovers use Duolingo to unlock new skills, choosing from thirty languages to master. The model used to build the programme is scientifically proven to help you master and retain a new language fast; lessons are fun, visual and bite-size and the clever algorithm offers adaptive learning that reviews your progress and tailors your lessons accordingly. Even five minutes a day is enough to stay on track, and there are modules to help you perfect your accent too.

Deliveroo


Sure, this is no ‘life or death’ download, but Deliveroo is certainly one to have in your back pocket for those ‘nothing in the fridge’ emergency dinners (or just ‘can’t be bothered to cook’ nights). Search by ‘quickest delivery time’; world cuisine or star rating to help you narrow down your dinner options. Browse the menus at local restaurants and order directly through the app. It will keep you updated on the status of your delivery, and you can even tip the delivery guy, in app. No cash required. There are regular deals and discounts too and it’s not just for takeaway dinners – you can get breakfasts delivered to your door now too. Breakfast in bed brownie points are just a click away.

Plum


Half a million people are using the Plum AI assistant to manage their money on their phone. The clever bot analyses your bank balance and automatically saves money into a separate account when it thinks you can afford it. A few pounds here and there, squirreled away for a rainy day without you even realising. You can even opt to save by rounding up each transaction you make to the nearest pound and saving the difference. Small, daily savings that can build up to quite the nest egg. You can grow your savings even further through the investment side of the app; you choose the risk you’re willing to take and the funds that matter to you – from the socially responsible to green energy – and let Plum do the rest. The AI bot will even help you lower your energy bills, notifying you when it’s found a better deal, allowing you to switch and save in a few taps. Genius.

Evernote


Think of Evernote as a journal, pen and paper, scrapbook and memory bank in one. You can snap hand-written memos, input typed notes, add links to web pages, audio notes and photo reminders – all in one place. It allows you to share ideas, annotate drawings and set reminders for tasks on your to-do list. You can even dictate your notes and let Evernote transcribe them for you. Sync across all your devices and you’ll never forget where you wrote that vital date or phone number again.

Hitlist


Hitlist is the travel app that saves you hours trawling for the best flight deals. Tell it the next destination on your wanderlust list and it will search flights for the optimal times to travel, emailing you when it’s found the most competitive price. If you want to keep your options open, you can search more broadly by continents, islands or by activities, too. Skiing, surfing, cycling… whatever your interests, it will find the best destinations at the best price. Share details with friends and plan your next trip collaboratively through the app. Smarter travel made easy.

Simple Habit


This may seem counter-intuitive since it is digitally based, but the Simple Habit app is designed to help busy people switch off. The ‘five-minute meditation app’ has been described as the ‘Spotify of meditation’ – whether you’ve got five minutes on your lunch break, commute or before sleep the app helps you relax, focus and de-stress. There are 2000+ guided tracks from a selection of teachers, so you can find the voice and style that works best for you. The perfect antidote to a busy lifestyle, in your pocket.

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October 2019

By Lydia Mansi