Mo­bile apps that can make our lives eas­ier

Kim Ko­mando: From bank­ing to traf­fic, what you should have on your phone

USA TODAY US Edition - - FRONT PAGE - Tech Talk

Hun­dreds of mo­bile apps are de­signed to keep you in­formed about your life and en­vi­ron­ment – from the length of your com­mute to the state of your fi­nances. Here are a few easy sug­ges­tions to make your life a lit­tle eas­ier:

❚ Lat­est weather warn­ings:

Weather apps can help you dress, sched­ule and pre­pare for se­ri­ous prob­lems.

Dark Sky is the most widely re­spected app, a slick and sim­ple-to-use interface that pulls data from pre­cise lo­ca­tions. You can set up pre­de­ter­mined alerts for what­ever weather con­di­tion you want to be no­ti­fied of.

The Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion app Hi-Def Radar isn’t as flashy as Dark Sky, but NOAA satel­lites of­fer clear maps and im­ages. The NOAA app can also send alerts any time light­ning strikes within

10 miles or when se­vere storm events break out in your vicin­ity. RadarS­cope and Ac­cuweather have sim­i­lar fea­tures.

❚ Bank­ing ac­tiv­i­ties: Bank­ing no­ti­fi­ca­tions are help­ful for two rea­sons. When pay­ments go through, you can en­sure your ac­counts are cur­rent. Alerts may also nip crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity in the bud; if your card is skimmed or stolen, large pur­chases will reg­is­ter right away, and you can no­tify your bank.

De­pend­ing on which bank you use, you’ll need to look in the app set­tings to set up spe­cial alerts. Al­ter­na­tively, apps like Mint can be set up to con­nect to your bank as a third-party app.

These apps will need ac­cess to some pri­vate data, but they are use­ful tools for keep­ing up with your trans­ac­tions.

❚ Traf­fic jams and ac­ci­dents: You may live 15 min­utes from your ap­point­ment, but a sin­gle ac­ci­dent could de­tain you for an hour. Know­ing ahead of time could help you reroute your trip.

That’s where apps like Waze, Google Maps and IN­RIX can help you plan your drive. Yes, each app has built-in GPS di­rec­tions and fea­tures, but they’re also ca­pa­ble of send­ing alerts about traf­fic jams, ac­ci­dents, haz­ardous con­di­tions and se­vere weather af­fect­ing routes. Most of them, par­tic­u­larly Waze, of­fer a wide se­lec­tion of alert pref­er­ences. Waze lets you set re­minders for when you need to leave, hav­ing al­ready cho­sen a route.

❚ Know when a per­son ar­rives or

leaves an area: Not ev­ery­one un­der­stands Find My Friends, the track­ing app in­cluded with ev­ery iPhone. For many peo­ple, this app can be a life­saver: Find My Friends can be con­fig­ured with alerts that let you know when a friend has ar­rived or left a des­ti­na­tion. It can help you keep track of loved ones who are sick or el­derly, mi­nors trav­el­ing alone, or any­one with spe­cial needs or a habit of wan­der­ing off.

You can ac­ti­vate the fea­ture by adding friends via the Home screen of the app, then adding a con­tact’s name. Once done, you will need to share your lo­ca­tion with the friends you want to track, al­low­ing friend re­quests from those who want the same of you. You can choose to set up no­ti­fi­ca­tions to alert your friends when you ar­rive or leave a lo­ca­tion, or vice versa.

An­droid users have a few op­tions, such as the aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing Familo, which re­quires just a phone num­ber to set up. There’s also Glympse, or the An­droid ver­sion of Find My Friends, which is sim­i­lar (but not iden­ti­cal) to the iPhone app.

❚ Ir­reg­u­lar or high heart rate: The new Ap­ple Watch Se­ries 4 comes with a for­mi­da­ble app for track­ing your heart rate. But you don’t have to be an Ap­ple user to ben­e­fit from alerts like this. De­vices like the Fitbit, which can work with all smart­phones, can quickly alert you when your rest­ing heart rate is too high, though many of the more so­phis­ti­cated track­ing in­for­ma­tion will likely have to be left to the new Ap­ple Watch de­vices.

Still, es­sen­tial alerts can be sent from your de­vice to your phone as soon as a prob­lem is de­tected.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.