By Bruce Sachs
We’ve all heard the catchphrase “there’s an app for that” and usually, there is. But who has the time to sort through the App Store or Google Play and figure out which ones are good? Without a few recommendations, you could spend hours just downloading and playing around to find the apps that you’ll actually use (and enjoy) on a daily basis.
Enrich can help.
Our team loves to provide insights into design, business and healthy food and wellness topics and we also like to find clever tools to improve our workflow and make us smile. Here are a few of our favorite apps — the ones that we’re using right now:
APPS FOR YOUR BUSINESS
LikeSo is your personal speech coach, recording your voice and tracking how many times you use filler words such as ‘like,’ ‘ya know,’ ‘totally’ and so on.
The app’s TalkAbout mode allows you to select a topic and test your speaking skills in 30–60 second intervals. 5 questions are posed around your selected topic and your response to each one is analyzed for the number of offending words. Results are then provided including a summary of the number of filler words used, the speaking pace and total number of words spoken. There’s also a Freestyle mode to check how well you articulate while you’re having a conversation or practicing a speech. In either mode, the app provides a fun way to gain awareness into your tendencies and improve your speaking skills.
Do you have an assistant to prepare you for your next meeting? You do now — meet Charlie. The digital assitant app wants to make sure that you walk into you next meeting with “the intel you need to make a killer impression.” Charlie provides you with short briefing about the people you’re about to meet. It connects to your calendar and searches social networks, news sites, blogs and company websites to gather information. Of course you could always just Google someone yourself, but Charlie does the work for you and filters the info into an easy-to-read synopsis. Once you set it up, Charlie continues all of the work behind the scenes. So, before your next big meeting with someone new, Charlie will send the details you need to know to make an impact.
APPS FOR HEALTH AND WELLNESS
What do you get when a Buddhist monk and an advertising executive set out on a mission to bring meditation to the masses? Headspace. This friendly, accessible app guides you through daily meditation exercises. The well designed app features cute animations and graphics that unexpectedly draw you in and help to explain meditation concepts in a warm, relatable way.
The app starts with an introduction to mediation — 10 days of 10 minute meditations guide newcomers through the process of learning this new skill and increasing a sense of familiarity with the rhythym of meditation. After you complete the foundation, you’ll need to purchase a subscription to unlock more, but I highly recommend trying the 10 day start sessions to see if it’s right for you.
With a lot of health tracker apps available, Lifesum stands out because of its clean interface and easy-to-use features. The free version of this app allows you to track your food intake and exercise while providing recommendations for the number of calories you should eat at each meal. Easy to read infographics display your daily results alongside the number of calories, carbs, protein and fat you have left to maintain your goals. After upgrading to Premium, the user can sync data from other apps and fitness wearable. Premium features also include recommended recipes that align with the user’s health goals and access to wellness plans such as Whole & Healthy, The Energizer, Food for Strength and Basic Health.
APPS FOR DELICIOUS FOOD
I’ve been a fan of Jamie Oliver ever since I first watched his cooking show, The Naked Chef, and loved his approach to cooking healthy comfort foods with fresh, local ingredients. His latest app, Jamie Oliver’s Ultimate Recipes, includes over 600 recipes that trend toward classic dishes with a seasonal, healthy spin. There’s a great range of entree, side, drink and dessert options organized in collections such as Warming Winter Salads, Eat Like A Vegan, Cheap and Cheerful, and Comforting Classics. Each recipe offers step-by-step instructions with accompanying photos, so you can see what you should be doing — which I love. Plus, your notes can be added to each step and add all of the ingredients sent to a shopping list. The app is rounded out with a ton of useful videos showing tips and tricks for basic food prep. I have long list of saved recipes in the app that I’m waiting to try, but so far I’ve had success with grilled fish, a few pasta dishes, and some interesting salads and sides. It’s definitely an app worth checking out
What are your goals? That’s the first question the Lighter app asks when you open it. Based on your choices, including food preferences, skill level and what tools are in your kitchen, the app provides personalized meal recommendations for the week. The free version of the app gives you unlimited access to all of the recipes but only allows you to save a limited number of recipes for later.
There are a variety of plant-based options for breakfast, lunch and dinner, including healthy spins on breakfast bowls, soups, stir-frys and more. My only complaint is that most of the snack recipes feel like filler.
My favorite feature of the Lighter app and companion website is the people who contribute recipes — athletes, health gurus, super parents, working pros, chefs and badass world changers. I’m a fan of the recipes from the super parents, because they appeal to both kids and adults. The app is a great start to easily planning a week of healthy meals.
APPS FOR GREAT DESIGN
With an easy to use drag-and-drop interface, users can quickly create social media art, print documents or ads with Canva. The app and website have thousands of layouts to use as a starting point and you can customize them by adding your own photos and changing the text to fit your needs. It helps to know some design fundamentals when using the app, so Canva offers design tutorials to teach basics such as combining fonts, hierarchy and brand consistency. I find the app most useful for creating social media posts, because it starts with art that is already formatted to fit your needs, whether it’s a Twitter header or a Facebook ad. When your design is complete, you can download the art from Canva and upload it to the web for everyone to admire.
Adobe recently combined some of their most useful apps into one — Adobe Capture. This fun and useful app allows you to create custom assets for use in Creative Cloud programs by simply using your phone’s camera and one of five tools. While most drawing and sketching apps work best in the larger space provided by a tablet, this one is perfectly suited for the features of the iPhone.
Patterns displays a kaleidoscope of repeating shapes and colors that you can adjust on the fly. Using Colors, you can pull the colors from a photo and save them for later — perfect for those times when you’re inspired by a unique color palette. Shapes works with any image and can just as easily turn portraits into cartoons as it can turn your photos, sketches or illustrations into vector drawings, a favorite feature of mine. You can also create Brushes for use in other CC applications and specific Looks to apply to videos in Premiere.