App Happy

With the thousands of apps available it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Which ones are helpful? Which ones are a waste of money? You can look at the ratings and read the comments, but that doesn’t help you if you’re not sure which apps to search for in the first place. With that thought in mind, here are three random but wonderful apps I’d hate to be without.

Our Groceries
For years, Pete and I had a system for grocery shopping. I’d keep a running list of what we needed at the market, stuck onto the fridge with a magnet. Then whoever was going shopping would simply grab the list and take it with them. Low tech, simple, no problem, right? It all worked perfectly until we began losing the lists. Maybe it’s impending senility, or maybe we just have a lot on our minds, but we’d go off without the list, or we’d leave it somewhere en route. Then we’d buy the wrong things, of forget essentials. Since Pete does most of our shopping (he works in town, while I’d have to make a special trip), I was getting aggravated and he was feeling frustrated.

Then we discovered Our Groceries. This is a free app that keeps track of lists. Find it in the app store and at It runs on your smart phone (either Apple or Android) and your computer at home. Everything syncs instantly whenever changes are made.

We enter items all week, then when one of us is at the store we can just check the list and see what’s needed. As items go into the basket, we cross them off the list. If Pete happens to be shopping, I can even add items while he’s at the store. No more lost lists. We jokingly call it the app that saved our marriage.

There are many list makers out there, but this one is designed for shopping, with some special features that make things more convenient. We also use it for lists of medications we take (helpful for doctor visits) and to track items we’ve loaned to friends.

7 Little Words
Like many of you, I like to play computer games. However, I also have a lot to do every day, and can’t afford to get sucked in to something like Candy Crush Saga or Solitaire. I’d turn into a zombie! What I really want is a fun little game that limits itself. A friend told me about “7 Little Words” and it’s just what I was looking for. You can download one game a day; if you want more, you have to pay for them. So far I’ve resisted. (Games stay available for three days.)

The game consists of a pile of seemingly random letter groups, and seven clues. You have to combine the letter groups into seven words that match the definitions. The default fame even gives you the number of letters for each word, but that made it too easy so I turned off that feature. If you still find it all too easy, you can play the British version instead. I find it pretty easy most of the time, although they’ve been known to include obscure words such as the name of an Indonesian river! I also struggle with the names of celebrities. I’ve never gotten stuck, but then I do a lot of crossword puzzles, and I like word games.

This game only runs on smart phones and it’s free.

Business Calendar
Everyone needs a good calendar, and there are a number of calendar apps to choose from. We happen to really like this one. It syncs with Google Calendar, which is where I keep my life. If you use Google Calendar, this basically does everything that does.

Unlike the rest of the calendar apps, Business Calendar has buttons across the bottom of the screen that let you easily turn individual calendars on and off. Want to see everyone’s birthdays? Click, there they are. Want to de-clutter the screen? Click, they’re gone again. Another unique feature is the week view’s slider that allows you to view just one day or up to 14 days at a time. One “feature” I especially appreciate is the remarkable lack of bugs.

After years of juggling duplicate paper calendars (at home and in my purse), losing appointment cards, and inadvertently creating schedule conflicts, I love having a reliable calendar with me at all times. How did I ever manage without it?

I’m using the free version; Pete opted to eliminate ads (and support the developer) by paying for his.

What are your favorite apps?

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