Making The Most Out of Every Minute
Ever wish you had more time in your day? Use the devices you own, like your smartphone or tablet PC, to make life a little bit easier and a lot more organized. Whether it’s family scheduling, traveling smart, social networking or keeping fit, check out these accessories and apps to help you live smart, keep things simple and squeeze the most of every minute.
Keep the Family Organized
• Between the kids’ portable devices and yours, you no doubt have charging cords scattered about the house. Get rid of the clutter with a wireless charging mat. Simply place your device(s) anywhere on the mat to charge. And don’t worry, it’s safe to touch.
• If your kids spend a lot of time in the car, a seat-back video case for your iPhone/Pod/Pad is a must. The case attaches to the front seat headrest with a Velcro strap, and unlike installed rear-seat entertainment systems, you simply slide the device out of the case when you arrive at your destination. You don’t even have to interrupt the movie.
• Catch up on reading whenever you have a spare minute. An eReader (or eReader app for your tablet PC) is perfect way to take your books with you.
• Individually packaged disposable screen cleaning wipes are perfect for removing the sticky fingerprints off your smartphone or tablet screen, particularly after your little one is done playing on it at the restaurant.
• Sync all of your calendars with Cozi or Google Calendar and access them from any or all of your mobile devices. You can share a calendar with your spouse or kids too so you can keep track of your family’s extracurricular activities, meetings and appointments.
• LastPass keeps all of your passwords and usernames secure online. You don’t have to rely on memory or a handwritten list. Retrieve usernames and passwords just by signing into the LastPass site on any PC or tablet.
• Paper grocery lists are so 2009. With Grocery iQ, you and other family members can share a grocery list, or multiple lists for multiple stores. To add items to the list, simply snap a pic of a product’s bar code. The app will search an Internet database and add the item to your list.
• To do apps such as Toodledo or Todo sync across platforms so you are able to see an updated version of your work, home or other lists on your phone, work PC or at home.
• Evernote saves your lists, notes, ideas and photos. It works with virtually any mobile device or computer. Search for a word inside an image, such as a photo of your handwritten notes. Save and “tag” recipes, gift ideas, or recordings.
Travel the World
• A Livescribe ink pen records sound as you write. In meetings, it is less disruptive than a keyboard when you are trying to take notes. A special paper stores and syncs your written notes with the digital recording online. You can even share your notes electronically.
• Be your own housesitter. Using intelligent light timers and thermostats you can control lighting and energy usage from your smartphone whether you’re at the office or halfway around the world.
• Top off your phone, tablet or digital camera battery between flights, meetings or whenever you have a little downtime. A universal charger will power almost any device you carry without weighing you down. Look for an international version if you travel overseas.
• Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) lets you talk inexpensively with anyone in the world using the Internet. Applications like Skype work on PCs, smartphones and tablets and let you make free calls to other Skype users or to landline numbers for a minimal charge. It’s an inexpensive and fun way to stay in touch no matter where your travel takes you.
• Simply forward all of your airline, hotel and car confirmation emails to TripIt and it will create a mobile itinerary that you can manage and share online or via the mobile app.
• Snap pics of your receipts, track your spending and electronically submit expense reports with Expensify. If you supervise someone who uses Expensify, you can approve and even reimburse the expenses from within the app.
• Dropbox is a super-simple app that lets you store your files online. One place to store all your files means that you won’t have multiple versions of the same documents and you’ll have anywhere access to important personal or work items. You can create folders so you can share and collaborate on documents.
• Are you a social shutterfly? Make transferring your photos off your camera a snap. A WiFi-enabled memory card allows you to wirelessly sync photos from your digital camera to a PC or mobile device or to your favorite social networking site.
• A battery extender for your smartphone will keep you posting status updates, uploading photos and “checking in” long after your phone’s battery is depleted.
• A flexible tripod is a must-have accessory for any digital imaging device, from a cameraphone to a full-sized digital SLR. These tiny wonders let you shoot photos or videos from nearly any perspective and are perfect if you actually want to be in your own group photos for a change.
• Update all your social networking sites all at once with Hootsuite.
• Type hands free with DragonDictation. This surprisingly accurate voice recognition app transcribes your spoken words. Dictate an email message, tweet or status update directly into the appropriate app. It’s perfect for drafting messages when you can’t or don’t feel like typing on your smartphone’s tiny screen.
Get Fit, Stay Fit
• Add a Nike+ sensor to your running shoes, sync it with your iPod or iPhone and hit the trail. The sensor will capture data about your runs and send them to your iPod or iPhone. Use the Nike+ app to track calories, distance, strides and route, or you can share your run in real time with your social network.
• If you’re into running or walking, sport headphones that stay put in your ears and wick away moisture are a must, as are protective cases that swallow your smartphone/MP3 player, keys, money and ID while your run or walk.
• With a handlebar mount, a portable GPS, smartphone or iPod becomes a full-featured trip computer and bike GPS. Bike-mount speakers supply a soundtrack for your ride.
• A WiFi body scale will upload your weigh-ins to a website where you can track your progress, set goals and, if you dare, share.
• Track calorie consumption and daily nutrition with the LiveStrong app.
• Yoga apps serve as virtual instructors that can demonstrate poses, guide you through customized routines and provide a soundtrack to help set the mood.