5 Apps you NEED to download today

They can make our lives easier and more fun. That’s why I love finding cool new apps. Check out these five picks that I’ve downloaded to my phone this month.

Cool apps to check out

Cool apps – Steller Stories

This really cool storybook/storytelling app lets you create multi-page visual stories using photos or video. With customizable layouts, different page formats and the ability to add text, you can easily create beautiful online ‘books’ inside the app.

Surf the Steller feed to take in other peoples posts on everything from fashion, to photography, travel, food and more. Once you find a story you like, click into it to swipe through the virtual pages and read short captions.

Warning, it’s a beautiful rabbit hole and heading down it means you’ll no doubt get sucked in and want to stay awhile. It’s like Instagram only with more depth, more curation and lovelier presentation.

Get more info on Steller Stories here.

Cool apps – Spark email 

Apple mail users rejoice! Get more tools and smarter functions with Spark. Spark lets you group email together in your inbox; unread mail, newsletters (if you want) plus you can search better, and remind yourself about an email that needs a response. Tired of having that email stare you in the face in your inbox? If you can’t finish a task you can swipe your email to snooze for tomorrow or another day, and even adjust Snooze times to your liking, such as “This Weekend” and “Next Month” if you wish.

Use one email account or load them all. Spark works with Gmail, Exchange, Yahoo, iCloud, Outlook or any other IMAP email server without worrying. The nice tidy interface keep things easy to look at and well organized. There’s also a Mac desktop version too.

Get more info on the app or find a download here.

Cool apps – YoWindow Weather

A reader recommended this neat animated weather app to me. The pretty graphics change constantly depending on the weather in your area. You’ll get the day forecast, plus medium and longer term outlooks in a more interesting format.

You can swipe across the graphics to see the weather changes over time.

Get info about the app here.

Cool apps – Relax Sounds

Sometimes sitting next to people on planes or public transit is enough to drive you nuts. The loud talking, kids fussing, or just noisy chewing… that’s when I break out a pair of headphones and the relax Sounds App. Loaded with soothing presets for sounds like Traffic, Tibetan Bowl, Wind Chimes, White Noise, Birds, Rain and Ocean there’s something that will please everyone. The nice photographs that accompany each sound effect make using the app a pleasing experience too. There’s even some novelty sound effects like Darth Vader and Tribal Drums if pounding beats or heavy breathing are what you need to thrum you into a zen state.

One other aspect that works for me; I can leave the app and the sounds continue playing, unlike other relax apps where you lose audio if you switch apps.

Look for the download in the app store or on Google Play. or get more info here.

Cool apps – Blur Background + Blur Photo

Blur Photo app.

These handy apps are two of the easiest blur tools I’ve found. Easily hide license plates, street numbers or personal information from photos and documents with a touch. Save and share photos instantly and for free afterwards. A must have for those who want to keep on top of internet privacy.

Get Blur Photo here on the app store, or Blur Background here.


Have you got an app you can’t live without? What app are you loving?  Let me know in comments below.

My Favourite Apps

My mother in law’s new iPhone is behind this week’s post of my favourite apps.  Here’s what I love, recommend, or can’t live without:


*STARBUCKS:  Add your gift cards, pay for coffee, and earn points for free beverages.  This app gets me going in the morning and keeps me going all day.  The only downside; the points you earn are per transaction, not per beverage, so if you’re buying for the office, you’ll get hosed.  (Unless you ask NICELY fo the kindly clerk to ring them in individually!)


*My Fitness Pal: surprisingly addictive, this app counts the calories FOR you.  You put in your info, tell it whether your goal is to gain or lose weight, or just keep truckin’.  It calculates how many calories a day you should be eating, then keeps track of your intake, as well as factoring in any exercise you do.  It allows you to manually add foods, or use the built-in scanner to upload nutritional info.  Great to get an accurate picture of what you eat; which for many of us is MORE than we think!



Everyone has a favourite picture-taking app; I have a few. And unlike most of humanity, I only used Instagram for about 3 minutes. I like these better.

*Hipstamatic: Awesome old timey camera settings come with the app, then you can buy fun films, lenses and flashes after.  The app works just like an old fashioned camera with the ability to swap and combine settings.  The films and lenses are so interesting and unique that I keep picking up new ones. With a “Shake to Randomize” setting, you can take cool photos and be surprised at how they turn out. You don’t need an account to use this, unlike Instagram.


*360: a cool app that lets you take panoramic view shots that, as the name implies, allow you to completely visually circumnavigate the area around you. Playback makes it look like you’re there.

*PicJointer: allows you to stitch photos together into collages.  Great for then uploading to your social media websites.  Speaking of which..


They probably don’t need explanation, so ’nuff said that they’re on the list.





*ShopShop: a list-maker app, this keeps needed groceries on hand.  The list keeps track of your frequent purchases so you don’t need to add again and again, and lets you cross off and/or delete what you’ve picked up. Handy.


*ScanBizCards (Lite): Just like the name says, scan business cards, and they are automatically input into your contacts list.  So handy, and eliminates paper clutter and the need to re-type.  Lite version allows you to scan 5 cards/week, which is enough for me.  Downside: sometimes is has a hard time reading some fonts, so double checking the input is a must.

*Flashlight: when you need it, it’s there.  You can use different colours of light from the screen, or turn on the LED/flash. When you can’t find the darn flashlight, you can probably always find your phone.


*WhiteNoise Lite: Annoying children on the airplane?  Need some background noise to drown out the neighbours’ wind chimes? Try the sound of crashing waves, babbling rivers, cricket, or the rain. Helpful to get you to sleep, or just to cover other noise.


*Shazam & SoundHound: Both apps that ID music that’s playing aloud.  I find that when Shazam can’t find a song (which is frequent), SoundHound can.  Both also keep lists of the songs you check so you can remember them later.  They’ll also allow iTunes purchases of the song if you like it that much.


*Google Maps: For my money it still way outdoes Apple’s map software. Much easier to navigate, and to look up addresses and phone numbers.

*Waze:  Making traffic and commuting into a game! You pick a little teardrop shaped avatar with a cute face, and off you go.  The app starts you as a “Baby Wazer” complete with diaper and soother.  The more you drive, the closer to an adult wazer you get, where you can personalize your avatar into a soccer mom or a ninja.  Climbing several status levels could eventually get you to Waze Royalty.  Also a pretty reliable map.



Need to kill time in the doctor’s waiting room? Stuck on an endless bus ride?

*Carcassone: A city-building game that’s a big tough to get into, but completely addictive when you do. based on the very popular European board game.


*Ticket To Ride: Woo wooo!!  Build rail lines across Canada and the USA, and watch out for your competition competing for the same real estate.  You couldn’t call me a train buff, but this game is surprisingly fun, easy and addictive.


*Harbourmaster:  Boats come into your harbour, and you need to dock them and unload the cargo.  The faster you dock, the faster they come in, and with bigger cargo loads. Don’t land your container ship on the bottom of the sea!

harbour images

Other built-in apps I get a lot of use out of are Podcasts, Weather, Videos and iBooks.

In case you want professional advice, here’s PC Magazine’s list of its Top 50 Free Apps of 2013.

I’d LOVE to hear some of your top apps…word of mouth is often the best way to find something useful you never even knew you needed!  Leave your list in Comments below.