The Upsell Is Strong With This One

The Upsell Is Strong With This One

Have you ever been at the register and had to go through a maze of questions to finish your transaction? Do you want to get our credit card? No? Well, it'll save you %10 percent today. No? You can get %15 percent off your purchase today if you apply? No? It's free. I'm sure you've been through something similar to this. I just went through it with HDMI cables, something that happened to me years ago, so I thought I'd share my experience and some information. Get two cables for $8 and save yourself the hassel! 

Read More

My Most Used Apps In 2014

Runkeeper  is my most used app of 2014.

Runkeeper is my most used app of 2014.

With 2014 almost over I've been thinking about the things I've spent the year doing and one of those items is time on my phone. I purchased an iPhone 6 this year and when I did, I didn't do the usual thing and restore my phone from a previous backup. Instead I downloaded apps as I needed them.

Because of that, I've thought about the applications I use the most and the must-have applications I can't live without. I'm not counting the Mail or Safari app since those come pre-installed. 

1. Runkeeper: Between attempting to lose 50 pounds in 2013 and training for my first marathon in 2014, Runkeeper has been my constant companion. It was the first one I downloaded when I started from scratch. I have an Elite account and also have a Bluetooth heart rate monitor connected, so I'm tied into the Runkeeper world and don't plan on going anywhere. My one wish for 2015 is shoe tracking. I'm training for my second marathon and would love to assign a specific shoe to each run without needing a separate app.

2. Rego: I deleted my Foursquare app when they revamped it, but Rego has been my favorite replacement. It's my personal social device with no sharing involved. What it does is allow you to mark a location, take photos, make notes and assign it to a folder or group. You create your own folders and groups so there's a lot of flexibility. Ever tried to remember what that dive bar you had that great bottle of wine at back in 2012? Rego solves that problem. I use it anywhere I've had a great meal or a great experience. I can get directions back to it and see any photos I took and any notes. This app makes me want to travel more so I can mark more places. They just added a Notification Center widget and I cannot think of anything I'd like to see added in 2015.

3.  MacHash: I'm an Apple junkie. I read the rumors (but take everything with a pound of salt), news and recaps, but with so many outlets it would be impossible for me to get to work on time if I checked each site separately. This is where MacHash comes in. It aggregates news from multiple sites and gives me the choice to delete any sites I don't care for. It is my one-stop-shop for Apple news. I still have The Verge, iMore, CNET and Mashable on my phone, but I only check them after I've checked MacHash. MacHash is about as perfect an app as you get. It's simple and I have no wishlist item for the coming year.

4. Lose It!: If you tracked the amount of time I spent with Lose It!, you'd be unimpressed, but it's an app I use every day without fail. As I mentioned with Runkeeper, I spent 2013 trying to lose weight and Lose It! was crucial to that goal. I have tracked every meal for the last two years and it now feels wrong to not add in that fifth piece of pizza I have after a long run. (WebMD has a blog post on how tracking your meals can help you lose and keep weight off). There is no doubt in my mind that logging meals a big reason I'm down to 180 pounds (from 230) and have kept it off. I think about whether I really, really want that cookie when I know I have to add it into Lose It! I still have trouble finding some restaurants, although they've added quite a few in last week's update. For 2015, I just wish they continue the great work.

5. Injustice: Gods Among Us: This is the only game I've ever downloaded and kept playing for more than a few weeks ... and I've been playing it for two years now. The game play is simple, you swipe and tap to make your DC Comics superhero fight an opponent. You can buy new cards that give you new heroes, augment your current hero's abilities and combine heroes to make an unstoppable team (I use Black Adam, Superman and Batman as my defaults). Since I downloaded it, Injustice has added an online battle mode, added more hero cards and added a Challenge Mode where you battle through a tier of opponents to earn a new free hero card. These additions keep me coming back even if I've put it down for a few weeks at a time. The downside is it takes up more than 1GB of space so I had to take it off my 16GB iPad Mini. My wishlist item? Make the online battles more tailored to skill levels. I rarely win more than one match at a time because the second match the person has been way overpowered compared to my team. An even playing field is great; getting beat in the first few seconds is not.

6. Day One: As a writer, keeping a journal is a handy-dandy way to jot down quick thoughts or ideas. Day One takes it a step further by adding the ability to add photos, activity tracking and tracking what music I'm listening to. I used the music tracking ability on a trip to New York when i decided to put my phone on random and let what song came on play. I opened Day One during each track and jotted down some thoughts on each one. It proved to be a great way to remember what could have been an unmemorable walk to a friend's house. Now it's truly a trip down Memory Lane. 

7. Sonos: I got hooked into the Sonos ecosystem with the Play 1 and ended up adding a Play 5 to the lineup. Unfortunately, Santa did not bring me the Playbar I was secretly wishing for, but maybe 2015 will be the year. I love having music play throughout my house, especially when I'm cleaning or just have something I need to run upstairs, but don't feel like pausing my jam. The latest update gave it a nice visual overhaul and I'm digging it. However, my wish list item is for Sonos to add a Notification Center widget that allows me to pause or skip tracks without opening the app. In that regard, it's nicer to have music playing through Music default app since I can quickly access play controls. 

8. Philips Hue: Having every light in my house connected? Sounds like a fantasy, but I love my Hue lights. With geofencing I have my lights come on when I come home after dark so I don't have to search for my keys in the dark. I have several scenes set up so I can add some 'flavor' to certain rooms at certain times. I also have timers set up so the lights come on at particular times, like when I usually go to bed. It keeps me from having to walk over to the wall in the opposite direction of where I'm heading just to flip the light on. The latest update added a Notification Center widget and because of that I rarely go into the app. I pull down the NC and have my most used scenes available. My one complaint is the lack of feedback when you tap and icon. They have a dotted circle that appears in the Notification Center, but inside the app, there's nothing that lets you know it's accepted your tap. An audible click or a visual cue that lets me know it's recognized what I did and executed it would be fantastic.

There are other apps I could list to round the list off to a Top 10, but looking at my phone there's not enough reason to list them. Could I live without Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Starbucks? Maybe. Maybe not. And because of that it's probably enough to keep them off the list for now.

What are your most used apps from the past year? What can't you live without on your phone?