Apple made a big splash recently with the introduction of their newest iPhone: the iPhone 5C and 5S. Both come with the latest in mobile technology and computing but if the only thing you use it for is to make phone calls then you might have over paid for a basic cell phone.
There are hundreds of thousands of apps (short for applications) for smart phones and tablets across multiple platforms. These apps range from simple games to complex video games, from books to business software and complex data management and everything in between. It is hard to deny the fact that smart phones and tablets have taken their place in our society (for good or for ill).
Apple coined the phrase “there’s an app for that” when they began to promote their ever-expanding App Store. People and companies have made millions of dollars all through a platform that allows people to carry a mini computer in their pocket.
With school back in full swing across the country, this signals the return of the crowded calendar– practices, rehearsals, play dates, sleepovers, doctor’s appointments, projects, study groups, test, meet the teacher night, open houses and the list goes on and on. Being a dad myself I know the perils of trying to coordinate calendars or even know what is going on throughout the week, not to mention what many parents have to face with their own employment outside of the home.
I consider myself to be a pretty tech savvy dad. I began sift through the App Stores and across the internet to see if there any apps or programs that could help streamline my already busy schedule. If there really was an “app for that” then it would stand to reason that there are apps to help me get my life in order.
Many of the smart phones and tablets have basic standard apps already supplied by the manufacturer– calendar, reminders, email and voice memo software, but I have found that there are some features missing that could help make being a parent in the 21st century a bit more manageable.
Below are my Top Five Tech Tips for Parents. Please note that most of the apps/programs do work across iOS (the operating system for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch) and Android (the operating system for many smart devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S3/S4, Nexus 7 and the Droid by Motorola.)
DISCLAIMER: I am not being compensated in any way by the companies listed below; the opinions expressed here are my own.
TOP FIVE TECH TIPS FOR PARENTS
1. Cozi ( iOS Link/ Android Link)
Cozi is a great organization app. I like it for several reasons. First you are able to have one username and password for your entire family; one family, one login, one shared calendar. Each member of your family can have access to the shared calendar and add their own events so everyone can see. You also have the option to have an agenda emailed to you at the beginning of each week so you can see at a glance what your week is shaping up to be. Another feature that I really enjoy is the shopping list. We have all been there… you create a shopping list and you leave it at home. You try to remember but invariably you forget the almond milk or the pine nuts or some key ingredient to your wife’s favorite dish. Now with Cozi you can have it on your phone and check off the items as you go. Cozi has been for me a real life saver and best of all its FREE!
Cozi helps you keep track of everything from school schedules to sports activities, grocery lists, meals and chores — all in one place accessible by every member of the family and from any computer or mobile device.– http://www.cozi.com
- One login for the whole family
- FREE (ad-supported)
- Shopping Lists
- One Calendar for the Whole Family
- Nice Web Interface
- Ads get annoying
- No two-way syncing with existing Google Calendars or Exchange Calendars
- Some features are not as useful as advertised (Journal, scrapbook)
2. Calendars/Calendars5 (iOS only)
I have a saying “if it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t happen.” I have a lot of things in my calendar and Calendars5 (Formerly Calendars+) helps me to stay organized. Before having a smart phone I kept a Google Calendar. Over time this calendar has grown from my just my class schedule to play dates, doctors appointments, wife’s work schedule and more. Most smart phones have calendar apps but I like Calendars5 because it allows me to view my additional calendars in Google Cal that the built-in calendar app does not. It has a clean interface and has a very fast sync rate.
Calendars 5 seamlessly syncs with local iOS calendars, Reminders and even Google Calendar.
Now all your events and tasks are in a single application, which is always on hand.– http://readdle.com/products/calendars5/
- Clean interface
- Two Way Syncing with Multiple Calendars on multiple devices
- Color coding for different calendars
- iPhone and iPad friendly
- Syncs offline
- Updated Version is a bit pricy for a calendar app
- iOS only
- While the interface is clean, it is a departure from other calendar apps and take some time getting used to.
In the 21st Century a high percentage of people access the internet. People shop, chat, read and learn from a variety of different places. Sometimes we want the internet to be something that works for us not the other way around… enter IFTTT.com; IFTTT stands for “If This Then That.” It’s a pretty simple process. You create a “recipe” for what you want to happen. There are 71 different “channels” (SMS, Weather, Google Drive, etc.) to use in the recipe. For example, every morning I get a text with the weather forecast of the day (see below). There are a lot of different ways to use this service. You can have it set up so if you post a picture to Instagram it will email that picture to somone (like Grandparents who generally don’t have Instagram).
The recipes can be useful or just silly. IFTTT allows you to customize the content you want and where you want that content to go.
- Simple interface
- Easy to Manage
- Some channels most people have never heard of
- At times multiple emails/texts are sent about the same event
- Some channels have limitations in the actual content they can provide
- iOS App interface not as clean as web version
4. Mailbox App (iOS Link)
Since about 1993 email has been a part of our modern world. Many people have multiple accounts– work, personal, just for fantasy sports, etc. Email is one of the primary ways people communicate today and that’s why it’s so important to have an application that helps you see you inbox in a better way and help you to get through your emails quickly and efficiently. I believe that Mailbox is that app. You are able to quickly read, delete, reorder and label emails all with the goal of reaching “inbox zero.”
We redesigned the inbox to make email light, fast, and mobile-friendly. Quickly swipe messages to your archive or trash. Scan an entire conversation at once with chat-like organization. Snooze emails until later with the tap of a button.– www.mailboxapp.com/about/
- Swipe to delete or archive
- Reorder items in your inbox
- Multiple emails in one inbox.
- Be reminded of an email at a later date/time.
- iOS only (for now)
- Gmail only (for now)
- Labels are only the ones for the app; unable to access personal established labels
5. Pocket (Formerly Read It Later) (iOS Link/Android Link)
I like to read articles, blogs and news sites online. The problem is that sometimes there are times when I do not have enough time to read all of the content I want. So I end up emailing my myself links to articles; over time this became a hassle and I was glad when I found Pocket.
Pocket allows users to save articles, links, posts. videos or whatever to be read later. It integrates well with Twitter and social media and is accessible via your browser as well. Once you sign up you will have your content with you where ever you are.
Once saved to Pocket, the list of content is visible on any device—phone, tablet or computer. It can be viewed while waiting in line, on the couch, during commutes or travel—even offline.–getpocket.com
- Helps you get organized with your content
- Content accessible offline
- Integration with some applications
- Multiple ways to access your content.
- Interface of the app took some getting used to
I hope these help! If you were lucky enough to get a gold iPhone 5S then fill it with these apps!
If you have a suggestion for apps or sites that help you as a parent be sure to comment below!
You never know I might come out with Part 2!