Happy New Year! (When is it socially acceptable to stop saying that? End of Jan maybe?) I know many of you will have already made New Year's resolutions. Perhaps one of your resolutions is to use technology less. To 'be in the moment'. To stop wasting time mindlessly scrolling through apps that have no real benefit to your mental well-being. Technology is a rather controversial topic in this day and age, but like many other things (food, alcohol, shopping etc.) technology itself is neither positive nor negative, it's simply a case of how we use it that determines whether or not it benefits us.
I've decided to put together a small list of the apps on my own phone that I'll be using a lot in 2019. Because let's face it, there's no giving up on gadgets now - let's make the most of some of the incredible things they have to offer. 1. Citymapper
By no means an app I've recently discovered, Citymapper is perhaps one of the most if not THE most useful travel app you can get your hands on. Covering 38 cities and constantly expanding, the app offers real-time departures, alerts, cycle hire info, detailed routes, costs and everything else you might need to get from A to B. You can choose what time you want to leave, what time you want to arrive, if you'd rather use the bus or the train, how long you'll have to wait for said bus or train, and the best thing of all is that it's completely free to download...like all the other apps I'm about to mention, haha. Whether you're living in or visiting a city, this app has got you completely covered in terms of transport. 2. Pinterest
Another favourite, Pinterest is my go-to app for ideas and inspiration. The app draws on the idea of a corkboard (I loved these whilst growing up) but, thanks to the craziness that is the Internet, you can have as many different boards as you like and pin things at the drop of a hat. Search for whatever takes your fancy, discover anything from winter fashion trends to workout itineraries for your facial muscles and collaborate with friends on an exciting project. Warning: it can be easy to spend a crap load of time on this app, so for you easily-swayed types it's perhaps best to limit your browsing time. However, something I use Pinterest for frequently is making food, so I tend to save recipes in advance and open up Pinterest when I'm ready to get a-cooking. 3. Revolut
Move over, Monzo, there's a new banking app in town. Revolut is a straightforward and easy way to manage your money. Essentially you open an account with the company, receive a physical card and then do all of your activity on the app, which offers instant spending notifications, built-in budgeting, the opportunity to send your Revolut friends money instantly and travel abroad with no currency-centered worries. It logs pretty much everything so you know exactly what is coming in and out of your account, when and why. My favourite thing about Revolut is the freedom it gives you in terms of travelling; it comes with a currency converter and allows you to spend abroad in over 150 countries with a very good exchange rate. You can use contactless, split the bill with friends, set up direct debits, round up your card payments in order to save spare change and there are absolutely no hidden fees. 4. Snapseed
Another app perfect for creatives, Snapseed offers a huge array of photo editing features to create stunning pictures. There are 29 tools and filters, meaning it suits both the amateur and professional photographer, and edits are non-destructive, meaning if you make a mistake or want to take a photo back to square one, you can do so without ruining your original photo. You can tweak colour and size, change perspectives, change the mood of the photo, get rid of uninvited guests, make adjustments to selective parts and get creative by adding text, filters and frames. 5. Lumosity
I've always wanted to get into brain training and I think this is the year to do it (not because I'm getting old...although perhaps that's debatable.) Lumosity's free brain training programme offers a range of games and activities to improve memory, problem-solving skills and critical thinking. I think for those of us that are no longer studying our brains tend to suffer from lack of stimulation, but a couple of these games and puzzles instantly make you feel sharper and can be a good way to pass the time constructively if you are, say, commuting into work or waiting for a doctor's appointment. The premium version has a lot more to offer but is quite expensive, so for now I'll be sticking to the free version, which I wish was a bit more developed but still makes me feeling like I'm doing something good. Isn't that what we all want?? 6. Word of the Day
Last but not least is a simple little app that I've started using to improve my vocabulary (I've also downloaded the French version as I'm becoming unbelievably rusty at French...many old bikes would be jealous.) The concept is very obvious: the app gives you a new word each day so that you can expand your lexicon and ultimately impress your friends, who will no doubt be akin to peasants by the time 2020 rolls around. Language is an incredibly important part of our day-to-day lives, and communication is vital for getting through this crazy rollercoaster that is life. The app also offers something of a built-in dictionary, which is handy if you don't fancy lugging your Collins hardback around with you everyday. So there you have it! 6 free apps to give your 2019 a little bit of pizazz (can you tell I've been using Word of the Day?)