At the end of each year, we like to reflect on some of the top mobile apps we’ve used and share the love with you, our loyal readers. With so many apps on the App Store and Google Play, it can be tough to sort through the muck and find the diamonds in the rough, but we’re happy to do some of the heavy lifting for you. Here are some of our go-tos for 2017.
Top Mobile Apps for Continuing Education
The Whole Story
This year, global ad agency Young & Rubicam (Y&R) teamed up with Current Studios to create an app for a special project called The Whole Story, an “initiative that invites people everywhere to tell the stories of historical women through statuary, a medium that, until now, celebrated a staggering number of men, but very few women.”
The Whole Story is an open platform that invites digital designers worldwide to build and place statues of women in their own cities. Virtual statues have been placed for influential women in history including Amelia Earhart, Nina Simone, Edith Wharton and Shirley Chisholm in locations like NYC, DC, Mount Rushmore, and several cities in Europe.
This is quite possibly our new favorite thing and we just had to include it as one of the top mobile apps of the year. It’s like Pokémon GO for history buffs. We love the idea of learning about influential women through virtual statues of them around the world — and hopefully, we’ll get some more real ones as well.
The internet has solidified our global economy. Doing business internationally is a given for a lot companies at this point, increasing the importance of knowing multiple languages (a skill most Americans lack). Even the most basic phrases can help your potential partners and clients see you’re making an effort to understand them and their culture.
LingQ made our top mobile apps list this year because it helps you learn new languages faster through repeated exposure to content (text with matching audio) you’re actually interested in. There are thousands of hours of lessons in the different language libraries. You can learn from blog posts, YouTube videos, news articles, song lyrics, and novels — whatever medium you’re interested in will work the best.
You can also create a lesson with any content you find online in your target language with the import tool. As you read through the lessons, words and phrases are translated and saved in the system for you to learn during vocabulary activities. All your progress is tracked so you can see how much you’ve learned and how close you are to the next level of proficiency in your new language. We’ll be speaking Greek in no time.
Top Mobile Apps for Saving Money
If you live in (or around) New York City, you might be familiar with the sample sale phenomenon, where retailers hold extreme sales to get rid of excess merchandise. For those who’ve never been, it’s like when Monica looks for a wedding dress on Friends — although, admittedly, it’s often less dramatic.
Before ShopDrop, there wasn’t really a place where these sales were organized, so you’d only find out about them if you knew where to look or if you were keeping an eye out for a specific brand. According to CEO and Co-Founder Estee Goldschmidt, between 20 and 80 sample sales happen around NYC every week and ShopDrop will tell you where and when to find them, which is why it’s landed on our top mobile apps list. It’s really a must-download if you live in the NYC area.
It’s always frustrating when you buy an item and find out later that it went on sale soon after. Some retailers do price adjustments, but there are usually strict limitations on them. Enter Earny, a personal assistant who finds better prices on items you’ve bought and then gives you back the difference at loads of popular retailers like Amazon, Costco, Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, Overstock and Target.
Earny uses the emailed receipts from your inbox to watch for lower prices on the items you bought. It claims the cash for you and credits your credit card (debit cards won’t work at this time). We’re all about top mobile apps that make sure we don’t overpay and we’re pretty sure you will be, too.
If you’ve ever owned a car, you’re familiar with the frustration of the check engine light. It just pops on out of the blue and could mean no fewer than 5,000 things in varying price ranges and a headache, but all of them involve taking the car to a mechanic because there’s no way of knowing what’s wrong unless you run diagnostic tests. We’re happy to report that FIXD has well… fixed that problem.
For any gasoline-powered car made in 1996 or after, the FIXD device can plug into the OBD-II port in your car — same one the EPA uses to check your emissions during e-check testing and that Progressive uses for their Snapshot program. The device talks to the app and runs the tests for you, alerting you of the reason your check engine light is on. It will even give you the error code and possible effects the issue could have on your car.
It’s not hard to figure out why we think this is a top mobile app. Going to the mechanic is time-consuming and expensive. If it’s necessary, we’ll do it, but it’s nice to know what’s wrong before you get to the shop and pay them to figure it out. If anyone is looking for last minute stocking stuffers for us, this is it.
Top Mobile Apps for Organization
Try as we might, we can’t seem to live minimalist enough to get rid of the random boxes around the house. You know the ones — they keep our high school memorabilia, old photo albums, and holiday decorations. There will just always be stuff you need to keep, but don’t need all the time, and that’s where Quick Peek comes in.
Quick Peek is a smart organizing system that pairs a free iOS app with QR labels, which makes finding things as easy as x-ray vision. The app lets you know exactly which box your items are in without even opening them. Simply pack a box, snap a photo, scan a label, and apply that label to the box.
The app lets you search for your items by name and location, but our favorite feature — the one that makes this a top mobile app in our book — is the scanning function, which lets you wave your phone over the smart labels to see the exact contents of each box. Gone are the days where multiple boxes labeled “holiday decorations” have you hunting for hours trying to find that centerpiece your aunt bought you that you never use unless she’s coming over.
2017 brought multiple natural disasters with record breaking strength to the United States and its territories. Unfortunately, the disaster isn’t even close to over when people finally get back into their homes and start picking up the pieces of their lives. From there, they’ll have to figure out what’s salvageable and what needs to be replaced, which is no easy task.
But HomeZada is here to help. Their Home Inventory feature lets you keep track of your belongings, which will streamline insurance claims and (hopefully) alleviate some of your stress. The app also lets you store pictures of all the rooms in your home, as well as receipts (for those major purchases) and important documents.
If you’re a homeowner in an area that experiences natural disasters of any kind (or even if your neck of the woods is calm as a cucumber) HomeZada is an essential mobile app for you. It will help you stay organized with maintenance schedules, stay on top of your budget, and take you a long way toward protecting your biggest investment.
Top Mobile Apps for Fun and Relaxation
We featured Calm once before because of its fabulous design, but it’s definitely one of 2017’s top mobile apps, thanks to their adult bedtime stories. When we last discussed them, the “sleep stories” were a pretty new feature, but now they have so many excellent choices. There are a few free ones, but we really recommend subscribing so you can unlock all the benefits of the app.
You just know you want to fall asleep to The Ocean’s Lullaby while you pretend you’re on vacation instead of getting ready for a Monday morning at work with that client who’s a major pain. But if you’re not sold just yet, listen to The Waterfall and see how happy you are while you drift off to sleep.
Beyond the bedtime stories, they also have plenty of guided meditations that will help relieve whatever stress your commute, that board meeting, or your Facebook feed is bringing you today. Or if you just need some calming sounds to get you through your afternoon, go to their website and turn up your computer speakers. They play nature sounds over a video of a gently rippling lake nestled between serene mountains.
Thanks to Etsy and Pinterest, crafters of the needle arts don’t have to feel like grandmas for enjoying an activity so often associated with old women. We’ve been able to find plenty of other people (men and women of all ages) who also enjoy knitting and crocheting. Keeping all our patterns organized can be a struggle though — who else has multiple binders, large envelopes, and random pieces of paper scattered around with notes written all over them? (Seriously, we’re not the only ones, right?)
This year, we discovered a fabulous app called LoveKnitting and it’s made our crafting lives so much easier (and more convenient!). The app keeps track of your digital patterns so you can work straight from your iOS device (Android coming soon) no matter where you are. No more crumpled paper patterns getting less legible by the minute as they’re ruined in the bottom of your knitting bag.
You can zoom in on patterns and use a row counter so you’re not making little tick marks on paper anymore (or in a note on your phone) and you can even highlight or make notes right on the pattern. LoveKnitting has brought needle arts into the 21st century by putting everything all in one place and removing some of the clutter from our lives, making this one of the top mobile apps for knitters.
Top Mobile Apps for Health and Wellness
In our never-ending quest for better health and wellness, vitamins and nutrition are a hot topic. Some people swear by supplements, saying they always feel better when they’re taking them consistently and while we might enjoy cheesy carbs in the moment, the green salad will probably make us feel better the following day.
But it’s not really as easy as it sounds to stay on track — especially in America, where the portions are large, the healthiest solution isn’t always the easiest, and we don’t get the sleep we should. Luckily, VITL is here to figure things out for us, all with the convenience of home delivery.
VITL uses artificial intelligence to power an interactive nutrition consultation, which then provides an in-depth report into your health and formulates supplements personalized to the user. Upgrading to a premium account also gets you meal plans and discounts on other VITL products. Any app that helps us improve our physical (and mental) health is a top mobile app in our eyes.
We have sort of a love-hate relationship with running — as in, we hate it while we’re doing it, but we love the runner’s high at the end. For some reason, we decided to get more involved with races this year (some silly new year’s resolution), but we needed a top mobile app to help us get there.
SportMe helped develop different training programs for each of us, dependent upon current fitness level and the length of the race, whether it was a 5K or a full marathon. It created training schedules for us and constantly readjusted it based on our individual progress. When we felt like giving up, live coaches kept us going. We’re hoping to keep it up next year as well, especially after all the holiday cookies we’re already planning to eat.
How to Develop Top Mobile Apps
Anyone can make a mobile app, but making a successful one (especially long term) is a different story. It’s important to find the key ingredient, which often points to the same answer: The best mobile apps solve a problem and they solve it well. Whether it’s keeping paperwork organized, helping people learn new things, or saving them money, all of the apps on this list are helping people accomplish something in a way that improves even a tiny corner of their lives.
When you’re working on your next mobile app idea, remember to stay focused on the purpose of the app and how it can improve the lives of those in your target audience. And when you do, don’t forget to make a prototype! No matter your goals, a functional prototype can help you achieve them — and save you money in the process.
Proto.io lets anyone build mobile app prototypes for future top mobile apps that feel real. No coding or design skills required. Bring your ideas to life quickly! Sign up for a free 15-day trial of Proto.io today and get started on your next mobile app design.
What do you think are the top mobile apps of 2017? Let us know by tweeting us @Protoio!
Originally published at blog.proto.io on December 7, 2017.