I’ve recently heard a couple of friends talk about how glad they are to see the end of 2015 and are looking forward to starting anew in 2016. The beginning of a new year always presents a future of unknown promises and prospects, and we tend to use this time as a reason to resolve to make our lives better in the year to come.
Here at iDB, we all have our favorite apps for keeping fit, sustaining productivity, and learning new things. Take a look at some of the ways we try to better our lives with the apps below. Who knows, maybe they will be the inspiration you need to start 2016 off with a bang.
Health and Wellbeing
Map My Run+
When you first start a walking, running, or jogging routine, one thing you might wonder is how far you went. Thanks to the 3-axis sensors on the iPhone, tracking steps and distance is a lot easier. This app keeps an eye on how far you’ve traveled, how fast you’ve moved, and how many calories you’ve burned during your routine. Thanks to a collaboration with Under Armor, you can also connect your smart shoes with the Gear Tracker for even more details on your run. You can even connect the app to a fitness band to track your sleep cycle. It is compatible with more than 400 devices, so you can keep all of your important health and fitness information in one place. This app is available for $2.99.
This app is billed as a personal trainer for people of all fitness levels. So, whether you’ve never done a single sit-up, or you are an advanced yoga student, you can find your level of training with this service. It features 18 different equipment-free exercises for building muscle and toning up. You can set workout goals every day based on your physical ability and amount of available time. You can also track your progress to keep you motivated. This app is also compatible with Apple TV 4. So if you prefer working out in front of your television, you’ll be right at home. This app is available for $2.99.
This noise generator app features dozens of soundscapes across a variety of categories. What really makes the service stand out is that each sound can be calibrated to your specific hearing limits and environmental distractions. You can manually adjust the various layers of each sound. If you plan on listening to one soundscape for a long period of time, try animating it and the layers will automatically change to provide different audio sounds. This isn’t just a meditation app, either. The company behind it is constantly working on new soundscapes and you can find some that are perfectly suited to your tabletop adventure games, like the dungeon crawl soundscapes, or for Halloween fun, like the haunted house soundscapes. This app is available for free.
Productivity and Finance
We think the Fantastical line of apps (for iPhone, iPad, and Mac) is a must-have for anyone trying to get their busy lives organized. It has a robust calendar with all manner of productivity features. You can set reminders and to-do lists, add maps and directions to events, and view your daily schedule as an easy-to-read list with all of your obligations in one place. The weekly and monthly calendar views include visual identifiers for events and tasks you have coming up, color coded by the type of calendar you are using. It is compatible with Apple Watch, so you can view your schedule right on your wrist. The iPhone version is on sale for $2.99. The iPad version is on sale for $4.99. The Mac version is on sale for $39.99.
One smart New Year’s resolution to take on this year is to better protect your digital life from invasion. The best way to keep track of your security data is with this app. You can create the most complex, multi-character passwords for each and every one of your different accounts and not even have to remember them. It syncs in the cloud so you can store your login information, credit card numbers, personal identity information, and more. Then, access it from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac with just the password you created in order to lock the 1Password vault. It has dozens of additional features available for a cost, but the free password manager is all you really need. This app is available for free.
Keeping your life organized takes a lot of work. One way to stay on track is with a task manager. This one is great for just about anyone because it doesn’t force you to follow any official list-making guidelines. You can create project lists in whatever way is most comfortable for you. You can add sub-categories to task and set individual ones to repeat. Get alerts when tasks are due. Share your project lists with others. Set dates and times for when tasks must be completed by. Use the quick-add feature to simply jot down ideas as they come to you. This app is available for $7.99.
A new year and a new you might mean getting your finances in order. Maybe you are thinking about buying a new house or refinancing your current one. This one gives you free credit scores that are updated weekly and gives you access to daily credit monitoring. It is great for helping you add a few extra points to your credit score, or even wipe the slate clean and start over. It provides tips on how to improve your credit score and tools to help you keep track of all of your accounts. Check each category for how your score is built to see your standing and find out how you can improve it. This app is available for free.
Learn Something New
Starting off the New Year right can also mean pushing yourself a little more in areas you don’t usually focus on in life. If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at cooking, but don’t feel confident enough with a spatula, this app will be your personal teacher. It features dozens of recipes that range in complexity from beginner to advanced. There are useful how-to guides for such things as cooking crab or cutting a pepper. There are eye-catching photos for each step of a recipe and plenty of how-to videos with tips and tricks for doing it right. New content is added regularly, so you can collect your favorite recipes and access them at a later time. The app also automatically generates a shopping list for ingredients and features a measurement converter, which is a must-have for cooking and baking. This app is available for free.
Learning a new language is nearly impossible unless you are sitting in a classroom with a teacher and classmates that are at the same level as you are. Most at-home language services don’t really stick with you. However, this app is different because it treats learning as a game. Users complete vocabulary and phrase exercises every day and earn points for their progress. Log in every day to practice your skills for a bonus. The app includes audio playback of words and phrases so you can hear what they are supposed to sound like. There is also a microphone feature so you can practice your pronunciation and get graded on how well you do. This app is available for free.
Nearly anything you want to learn is at your fingertips with Apple’s education app. There are hundreds of thousands of free courses designed and taught by educators from around the world. Access lectures, videos, PDF versions of textbooks, and lesson plans from a wide variety of categories. As you move through a course, you will be able to check off assignments you’ve completed and even submit your work to the course’s teacher. If you have any questions, you can contact the instructor for more help. Group discussions are available in many courses, as well. This app is available for free.
These are some of the apps we think help make our lives better. Which apps keep you motivated, on task, and open to new experiences? Let us know in the comments below.