15 Ways to Use Your Smartphone to Simplify Your Life in 2013

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15 Ways to Use Your Smartphone to Simplify Your Life in 2013
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There's an app for almost every purpose, but with hundreds of thousands to sort through, it can be a headache trying to decide which ones are worth your time. Check out these apps for ways to simplify your life, so you can save your time (and money) for things that really matter.

Key Ring (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry; free)
Key Ring

Key Ring (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry; free)

The convenience of store loyalty programs -- designed to save you money or provide rewards after a certain level of spending -- can be quickly overshadowed by the number of cards cluttering up your key chain. Key Ring is designed to make digging through your purse a thing of the past by making your rewards cards available electronically. The app saves the bar codes of your rewards cards, which can then be scanned at the store’s checkout, negating the need to carry the physical cards everywhere you go.

Related: Key Ring

Grocery iQ (iOS, Android; free)
Grocery iQ

Grocery iQ (iOS, Android; free)

List-making apps are a dime a dozen, but Grocery iQ is so much more than just a grocery list (although the list feature included is pretty nifty -- items can be added by brand name or generic, and the speech-to-text function allows you to speak your list into the phone if you’re tired of typing). The app also helps you save money on your grocery bill: It is powered by Coupons.com, one of the Web’s top coupon sites, which means that it looks for savings as you add items to your list and prompts you to print your coupons before leaving home.

Related: Grocery iQ Mobile

Mint.com Personal Finance (iOS, Android; free)
Photo courtesy Mint.com

Mint.com Personal Finance (iOS, Android; free)

Mint.com is a budgeting app that securely connects to your bank and credit card accounts, making it easy to keep track of account balances and due dates. The mobile version of the popular website makes it even easier to stick to your savings goals; before making major purchases, just whip out your smartphone and make sure it fits into your monthly budget.

Related: Mint Mobile Apps

TurboTax SnapTax (iOS, Android; free)
TurboTax

TurboTax SnapTax (iOS, Android; free)

SnapTax is proof that tax preparation doesn’t have to be stressful and complicated, even if you’re a total tax novice. The app is designed to make it as easy as possible for 1040-EZ or 1040A filers to prepare and file their taxes entirely from their smartphones. Just take a photo of your W-2 and let SnapTax do all the heavy lifting for you -- your personal information is automatically extracted from the snapshot and entered into the tax form, leaving you with just a few questions to answer.

Related: TurboTax SnapTax

RedLaser (iOS, Android, Windows Phone; free)
RedLaser

RedLaser (iOS, Android, Windows Phone; free)

Bar code-scanning apps are usually touted for their ability to save you money, and RedLaser is no exception -- scan any product and the app quickly pulls up a list of stores, both online and local, that carry it, along with current pricing information. It’s more than just a price-comparison tool, though; the app helps you make healthy choices by connecting to the Fooducate database when you scan the bar code of a food product. This provides nutritional information, along with a nutritional grade from A to F for thousands of different food items.

Related: RedLaser

Evernote (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry; free)
Evernote

Evernote (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry; free)

Evernote is the ultimate information organizer. Available on just about every platform -- including the Web -- this cloud-based app keeps all your paperwork in sync and accessible from anywhere. Scanned documents, checklists, recipes, phone lists, class notes -- anything that can be saved in a document can be uploaded and organized in Evernote. Instead of storing multiple versions of the same paper in your email, thumb drive and hard drive, just save it in Evernote and access it later from any computer or mobile device.

Related: Evernote

Dropbox (iOS, Android, BlackBerry; free)
Dropbox

Dropbox (iOS, Android, BlackBerry; free)

Dropbox does for files what Evernote does for documents. Add any type of file you want to your Dropbox, where it’s stored securely in the cloud, and open it later from any computer or mobile device. Dropbox folders can be private or public, and can be shared with others -- allowing them to access and add files -- making it great for collaborating on a project with remote colleagues.

Related: Dropbox Mobile

HootSuite (iOS, Android, BlackBerry; free)
HootSuite

HootSuite (iOS, Android, BlackBerry; free)

Social media is supposed to be fun, but keeping up with all of your social networks can quickly start to feel like a chore. Instead of switching between multiple apps, link your social profiles into HootSuite and have access to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and FourSquare all at once. If social media is part of your job description, HootSuite also makes it easy to schedule updates and track hashtags and keywords while on the go.

Related: HootSuite Mobile Apps

Yelp Mobile (iOS, Android; free)
Yelp

Yelp Mobile (iOS, Android; free)

Life is too short for bad food, rude masseuses and tragic haircuts. Avoid these unfortunate occurrences by checking businesses out on Yelp before you step through the doors; the mobile version of the popular review site offers user reviews of just about any type of establishment, from restaurants to religious organizations. As an added incentive, the app also includes deals and check-in offers, ranging from dining deals to gifts with purchase, at nearby businesses.

Related: Yelp Mobile

Remember The Milk (iOS, Android; free)
Remember The Milk

Remember The Milk (iOS, Android; free)

Creating a to-do list is one thing -- actually remembering to do the things on your list is another. Remember The Milk, available on the Web and your smartphone, is designed to make sure you stay on task by offering reminders via push notification, email, instant message, text message and even Twitter, if you choose. The app syncs with your account on the Web, making it easy to access your daily tasks from any platform, and lists can be prioritized and shared with others.

Related: Remember The Milk

FastCustomer (iOS, Android; free)
FastCustomer

FastCustomer (iOS, Android; free)

Waiting on hold for customer service consumes time that you could spend doing other, more enjoyable things -- so why do it? FastCustomer frees you from automated prompts and elevator music by doing the work for you. Just select from one of the 2,000 companies available, enter your call-back number, and the app will navigate the phone prompts, wait on hold, and call you back when there’s a live person on the line.

Related: FastCustomer

MyFitnessPal (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry; free)
My Fitness Pal

MyFitnessPal (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry; free)

When you’re trying to lose weight, keeping a food journal is highly recommended, but looking up every single food and remembering to write it down in a notebook is tedious. MyFitnessPal simplifies the process for you; just select your meal from the database of more than 2 million foods, and the app automatically calculates the nutritional information and the number of calories remaining for the day. The app includes restaurant foods and a bar code scanner to make tracking even easier, and you can also add custom foods and recipes to the database.

Related: MyFitnessPal Mobile

How to Cook Everything (iOS; $4.99)
How to Cook Everything

How to Cook Everything (iOS; $4.99)

The mobile version of Mark Bittman’s bestselling cookbook features all of the contents of the hardcover version at a quarter of the price. When you’re undecided about dinner, browse through the recipes for inspiration, or search for ideas featuring ingredients you already have on hand. A special section of recipes that can be prepared in less than 30 minutes is a lifesaver during a busy week, and those who aren’t completely comfortable in the kitchen will enjoy the Kitchen Basics section, featuring comprehensive information about tools and common preparation techniques.

Related: How to Cook Everything for iPhone

Feeddler RSS (iOS, free)
Feeddler RSS

Feeddler RSS (iOS, free)

Stay in the loop with Feeddler, a fast, customizable RSS reader that uses your Google Reader account to serve up the latest stories from your favorite blogs and news sites. The option to cache loaded articles for offline reading is great for catching up during long commutes, and you can share interesting posts via Facebook, Twitter or email without having to cut and paste the URL. A free Google Reader account is required but is easy to set up.

Related: Feeddler RSS

Pocket Yoga (iOS, Android; $2.99)
Pocket Yoga

Pocket Yoga (iOS, Android; $2.99)

Pocket Yoga allows you to salute the sun from wherever you are, even if it’s the middle of the night. You may not have time to fit a class into your busy schedule, but this app -- which offers up to 27 different routines -- is like carrying your yoga instructor with you everywhere you go. Routines can be as short as 30 minutes or as long as an hour, and every move is illustrated, making it novice-friendly.

Related: Pocket Yoga

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