There are more than 2 million apps out there for iPhones — almost 3 million for Android users. But you only need a few to get the job done.
These seven apps are tools I use almost daily. They make my life simpler, and they all have awesome free versions:
Email by Edison. This app’s icon looks almost exactly like the one for standard Apple Mail, but don’t be deceived: this little virtual assistant is my very favorite app and has revolutionized my email life. It allows you to load multiple accounts and snooze messages, and it offers very intuitive one-click auto-responders (like “Thanks so much! or “I’ll get right on that.”). It also automatically keeps track of your orders, receipts, subscriptions, travel, and event tickets and notifies you immediately of changes in plans and of your package deliveries. iPhone and Android
AnyList. Lets you create and sort shopping lists by store and share lists with family members. Common items are preloaded, and it plays well with Siri. The paid version includes a meal planner ($7.99 for a whole year); with it you can plan your meal calendar, save recipes you find on the web, and automatically add the ingredients to your lists. The newest update also syncs with Amazon’s Alexa, which I don’t have because it freaks me out. iPhone; sorry, no Android 🙁
Overcast. The simplest, cleanest way to sort and listen to your favorite podcasts. I’m doing that a lot more than radio in the car these days. iPhone only | Podcast Addict is a good Android alternative
Clarity Money. Love this app for at-a-glance look at our finances and spending, with practical and easy ways to save money, budget, unsubscribe from services we no longer want or need, and monitor our credit. iPhone and Android
iOS Notes. For me, this is definitely a case of less is more. I’ve tried fancier things (Evernote and SimpleNote to name a few), but in the end, the Notes app that comes with iOS works amazingly well for me; you can sync it, share it, sort it, search it, file it, print it, password protect it, draw it, checklist it. I put everything in here — ideas, quotes, Christmas lists, to-do lists; I even write all my blog posts in it. iPhone only, installed automatically with iOS
AccuWeather. Eerily accurate weather reports that help you make solid life decisions. Me: Should I go ahead and run for it in this downpour, or will it clear up soon? AccuWeather: The rain will stop in 83 minutes. Me: Crap. iPhone and Android
Amazon. I’m sure you’re on this train already, but if not, get Amazon Prime and Never. Leave. Your house. Again. If I don’t need it today, I order it, and it’s on my porch within 48 hours. That saves me a ton of gas and time, but it also saves me money because I don’t see and buy other stuff at the store that I don’t need. I’ve done the bulk of my Christmas shopping on Amazon for about 18 years, and I also use Amazon Subscribe and Save for most of our household toiletries, basics, over-the-counter meds, paper goods, pet products, and cleaning supplies. iPhone and Android
A few honorable mentions in my simple category: theSkimm for news, Unroll.Me for managing email subscriptions, and My Disney Experience for navigating all the happy at the parks. Got an app I should know about that makes your life simpler? Do let me know… next week I’ll post seven more apps that help make life more sacred.