A good app is one that you return to again and again. You wonder what you did without it. (Facebook, anyone?) Since one of the best things about the empty nest is having the time to learn new things, I thought today I would share my favorite apps with you. All are free unless stated. Please note! Since these are primarily mobile apps, they are meant for use on your mobile devices. Some of them have accompanying websites; other’s don’t. If you want more information on any of the apps listed, I’ve either linked to the respective accompanying website or the official iTunes Preview page for the app. Your kids will be so impressed with you and your tech abilities when you casually drop the names of some of these. YESSSSS.
This baby is my app BFF. I use it all the time! Waze is the largest community-based traffic and navigation app. It shows real-time traffic and road info. I not only use it for directions but most of the time I use it for traffic information. You put in your destination, and Waze will provide you with the best route, taking traffic and road construction into consideration. It’s great for a road trip, but also just for navigating around if you live in a big city.
Speaking of road trips, the iExit app is a must-have for your next one! It will help you navigate the highways and byways, listing the nearest hotels, grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, and more. It’s $2.99 in the app store, but well worth it!
This app lets you search for the best gas prices by location, zip code, city, or state. It’s updated in real-time, and if you sign up to receive alerts, it will even let you know when a price hike is coming in the next few days. The GasBuddy website is good too, and will give you the same information as the app.
This is my go-to app for naptime or nighttime – whether in a noisy hotel or at home. It features over 70 different sounds, which you can mix (up to 4 at a time!), favorite, and set on a timer. The sound I sleep most soundly to is “Floor Fan.” For more information about the White Noise app, you can read the official iTunes Preview (description) here.
You’ll want to have this app downloaded on your phone for that moment when you are sitting in a restaurant, and you hear an awesome song playing over the sound system. You open the app, press the Shazam button, and the app “listens” to the song, tells you what it is and who sings it, will give you the lyrics, and allow you to purchase it on iTunes with one touch if you are so inclined. If not, it saves it on a list, and you can add it to your Spotify playlist or iTunes library at your convenience. Go to the Shazam website for more information on how it works.
This app is the perfect app for nervous, empty nester moms! Kid traveling abroad? Track their flights in real-time on a map, receive status alerts via push notifications, check gate assignments, delays or cancellations, etc. This app is handy when meeting flights, catching flights, or just worrying about flights. 🙂 Sitting at home stewing about your kids’ study abroad travels? (I am not joking. This is how we spent our summer.) It works just as well on the web. Click here. It’s great. Maybe too great. Self-monitor your stalking tendencies, people.
I’m pretty sure everyone already knows about this app and website. All of my doctors know that I know about this app because I have been known to, er, self-diagnose. Yeah…. Seriously, I think it’s the best health app out there.
This helpful app gives you approximate times for taking, um, potty breaks, during movies that are currently playing in theaters so that you don’t miss important scenes. You can either read the “pee time” cues before your movie starts or activate a timer that you can set at the beginning of the movie, and your phone will vibrate at the, um, appropriate time. It tells you the length of your “pee time” and also provides a synopsis, so you know what you missed. (When and where you read aforementioned synopsis is your business. No judging here!) It will also tell you whether or not you need to stay for the closing credits (You don’t want to miss those bloopers!) or not. You can read more about it here, although the accompanying website is sized for mobile devices, so if you are using a desktop or laptop, it’s going to look kind of weird. 🙂
If you use this app, your kids will be totally impressed and maybe even somewhat intimidated by you. (And, after all, isn’t that one of our primary goals as empty nesters?) My kids almost fainted! Venmo is a money sharing app that you can use to make purchases or send money. You link it to either a Venmo account (which you deposit a specific amount into), your bank account or debit card. (There is PLENTY of security involved, so don’t worry.) You can send money to anyone who has a Venmo account. There’s space for you to indicate what it the payment is for – which people usually do with lots of emojis and thank yous. It deposits the money in their bank account or credits it to their debit card. This is how I pay my blog photographer, Megan. It feels oh-so millennial and hip. I’ll admit, maybe my favorite thing about it is that you link your contacts and it has a rolling timeline of who on your contact list is using the app and what they paid for with Venmo. It’s great if you’re nosy like me! (Just think of the possibilities if you could get your kids on this app!) The PayPal app works much the same way, but I like Venmo better. I’m super cool, that’s why.
A sweet friend told me about this app, and I just downloaded it! Wunderlist was voted “App of the Year” back in 2013, and they’ve made lots of updates since. It lets you sync and share to-do lists, shopping lists, and even manage work projects. It’s perfect when you are planning a party (Who’s doing what, again?); hosting a big holiday get-together (Who’s bringing what again?), or just asking the hubs to make a run to the store for you (“The list is on Wunderlist, babe.”). You can set due dates and reminders, assign tasks, and collaborate at will. You are going to be SO organized this holiday season!
Believe it or not, this app is officially authorized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection! Mobile Passport lets you skip the Customs and Border Protection line at U.S. airports. You simply answer the questions on the app and fill out a profile, then you go to the “Mobile Passport Control” express lane at the airport and breeze right through. Ah-mazing, right?
I’d love to know your can’t-do-without apps. Will you share them with me in the comments?