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Hello!

Welcome to my blog. I hope you enjoy and are inspired by the stories I tell and the suggestions and thoughts I share. To find out more about what These Are The Heydays is all about, click here

- Diane

Quick guide to the best apps for your phone

Quick guide to the best apps for your phone

Gone are the days when a phone was something just to make calls on

Gone are the days when a phone was something just to make calls on

I’m sure I’m not alone in finding my phone an increasingly indispensable aid to my daily life. Aside from the calls I make, the texts I send and the (many, many) photos I take with it, it guides me to where I need to be, allows me to listen to podcasts on the move, helps me stay fit, enables me to do my banking and even lets me see who’s at my front door.

I’m always trying out new apps that are recommended to me or that I read about, so I thought it would be useful to all of you to know which are the apps I currently find the most invaluable. I’ve picked the ones that don’t involve you having to have any other piece of equipment (like the door one - which works through my Nest doorbell - does) . You should be able to get all of them wherever you download your apps from.

Getting around

First up is Waze. I literally don’t know how I ever found my way anywhere without this brilliant app. Using live traffic updates it calculates the quickest route to wherever you need to go (which can sometimes mean navigating a maze of side streets in order to avoid traffic jams) and alerts you to things like speed cameras and even potholes along your route. it is always more reliable than any other route finder and it covers cities all round the world.

Another invaluable route-finder is Citymapper which works out the timings to get you from A to B using public transport, or your own two feet. It’ll tell you how long each leg of your journey will take, which is the best exit to use at multi-exit stations and even which is the best carriage on the train to sit on for the exit at your destination. Genius.

And of course, I wouldn’t be without my Uber app for those times when neither my own car, nor public transport will cut it. Of course that’ll only apply here in London for as long as they hang on to their licence to operate!

Up in the air

Still on the subject of travel, I’m a big fan of FlightView which allows you to track any flight on any airline anywhere in the world in real time. Call me a covert stalker (you wouldn’t be the first), but when I have someone I care about on a plane, I find it immensely reassuring to be able to see the (hopefully safe) progress of that flight to its destination. Not to mention how useful it is if I’m meeting someone to know if they’re delayed.

One click shopping

As far as shopping is concerned I’m a reluctant devotee of the Amazon app. I know they’re taking over the world and eating up businesses and neither of those is a good thing, but it is so ridiculously easy and quick to order from them. Which would be why they’re chomping their way to world domination.

I also enjoy Deliveroo, which enables me to order take away food from all the participating restaurants in my area and lets me track my order so I know exactly when it’s going to arrive.

Getting fit

From a fitness point of view I haven’t yet got into having a step counting app on my phone, so I’d love to know if you have and whether you recommend the one you use. I’m a big fan of 7M Workout which does exactly what it says on the tin. The easy-to-follow 7 minute workouts are designed by the Director of Exercise Psychology at the Johnson and Johnson Human Performance Institute. So that’d be why they’re so good then.

Banking at my fingertips

I know there are many people who are reluctant to do online banking but I’ve been doing my banking like that for years. And since I’ve had my bank’s app (I’m with Lloyds) on my phone, that whole process is a million times easier. I can pay bills, set up or cancel direct debits and standing orders, check my balance, even freeze my cards when they, erm….temporarily go astray (they’re almost always in the pocket of something in the wash) any time I want. Honestly, it’s changed the way I feel about managing and monitoring my finances. And since mine worked on fingerprint, and now uses facial, recognition, I feel (perhaps naively) that it’s a safe as it can be.

Game on the go

I don’t consider myself to be a video game player, but I do admit to being a teeny bit addicted to my MapleMedia classic solitaire game so….maybe….I am…. That’s the only game of any sort I currently play but I have been encouraged to give Scrabble a go, so that might be next on the list.

News updates

I’m a bit of a luddite when it comes to news in that I still really enjoy reading an actual newspaper. (Research has shown that people who only read their news on screen don’t read nearly as wide a range of stories as those who read it in print. Just saying) But I do dip into my Times and BBC news apps to keep me up to date with developing stories.

Photo retouching

Because of my posting and blogging, I use a number of excellent photo editing/uploading apps that may not be of interest to you all (do let me know if you want details of any of them, I’m happy to add them in in the comments), but one that I find hilarious and alarming in equal measure just to play with is Meitu. It’s the most popular retouching app in China apparently, and it enables you to adjust every aspect of your face from its shape to its skin tone (you can move your eyes wider apart, and change the width of your nose or chin!) and add make up looks of your choosing.

I haven’t included in this list the standard apps that my iphone comes with which I use virtually daily and which keep me informed about the weather, remind me of any tasks I have to do, enable me to make notes of things I want to remember and provide a handy calculator.

It all combines to make my phone a powerfully essential mix of support, information and entertainment that I’ve come to find almost alarmingly vital to my day-to-day life.

Now if I could just remember where I put it down……

What apps do you use and recommend?

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