apps, tech + online

11 App Obsessions

by Grace Bonney

I’ve spent the majority of my life being the last one to the tech party. My parents all but forced me to get a cell phone my senior year of college because they didn’t want me driving between college and home without one. I keep every computer I’ve ever owned until they literally fall apart (when I dropped off my last laptop to be repaired, the guy at the desk said it started smoking when he turned it on) and when social media platforms first started I distinctly remember laughing at how pointless they seemed. I’ve since learned my lesson (big time) and while I may not be refreshing tech sites for the latest developments every hour, I am always looking for new apps and programs to check out. Not only are they fun, but apps have become clever ways to help me work more efficiently and stay creative when I’m feeling a little run down. I posted some of my favorites earlier this year, but I’ve got a whole crop of new favorites to share today, from productivity tools and educational guides to photo editing tools and a peek inside some of the best museums in the world. I hope these will inspire you to learn or try something new on your lunch break. It never ceases to amaze me how many great ideas pop up in the app store on a daily basis. xo, grace

Click through for all 11 apps after the jump!

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1. : A lot of apps will promise to make you smarter, thinner or more popular on line, but this one promises something much simpler and much more important: daily moments of happiness and gratitude. By encouraging you to take a “happier challenge” each day, this app will let you upload an image, write a comment to describe that moment that made you happy today and then you can choose to share or keep that moment private. I’m keeping mine private for right now because I’m using this app as a way to try to end each day on a positive note, but you can easily share with friends and family. There are also inspiring quotations and links to great classes you can take (you have to pay for those though) that will expand your mind and teach you new skills.

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2. : Steller is a new social media app that lets you create beautiful stories and share them with friends and followers. It’s essentially a great tool for turning photos and your own words into something that looks like it would run in a chic online magazine. I’m always curious about whether or not these sorts of apps can compete with bigger social media apps like Facebook and Instagram, but I love the customization and beautiful layout. This is just another great example of how traditional blogging platforms aren’t as necessary anymore and how apps like that can make great layouts and editorial pages accessible to anyone with the time and interest in testing out the app.

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3. : I love a great museum app and the Met’s official app is fantastic. There are great photos, tours of physical spaces without the museum (and The Cloisters), but what I love most are the “Staff Picks,” which let you see the collections through the eyes of the people who know them best. The staff section often has fun (and trend-aware) sections like “Moustaches in the museum” or eyes in artwork. I spent a good hour on this app last night learning more about their statue collection, it was fascinating.

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4. : Hyperlapse is the new app from Instagram that lets you create your own time lapse videos with your phone. People are already testing this out online with great results, but the most stunning tend to be travel based (ie: the view from the back of a car as someone drives across the country). This app has great possibility for our community, though, ranging from the full production of a product from concept to final packaging to a simple DIY time lapse how-to. *Note: I think this app could use a bit more tutorial or walk-through information, as I’m still struggling to get the videos to look the way I want them.

5. : Speaking of DIY, the Party Party app is from the founders of and it’s a blast to use. Basically, you can take new photos (or import photos from your archive) and turn them into tiny animated clips you can share online. I’ve been using these primarily for personal projects (family photos, pets, etc.) but this would be a great tool to use for making upbeat announcements on a blog or just having a bit of fun with friends in general.

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6. : If you’re forever fidgeting with your photos like I am, this is the app for you. Afterlight lets you adjust all sorts of settings, add filters and crop and shape images into just about anything you like. It feels particularly applicable to bloggers because it gives you the sort of clean look most of us are going for these days – but with a little extra moodiness thrown in. (Here is the of Afterlight)

7. : I’ve been a proud (I even did a year of podcasting on my own way back in the day when DS first started) and I am always looking for easier ways to listen, organize and discover great new podcasts. Stitcher is basically Internet radio that lets you listen to your favorite podcasts whenever you like. They’re one of the first major groups to pop up and really support individual podcasters, too, so they’re at the top of my list of companies I support and respect. (Here is the )

8. : I love a good organizational app and this one makes having a smarter calendar much much easier. You can add daily goals like exercising more or small chores like walking the dog, but you can also update and manage your day-to-day schedule and add alerts for pressing events. I love the design – it’s simple but colorful and fun enough that it makes me actually want to keep up with my to do list and daily work schedule. *Note: this app also follows your daily schedule and detects the best time to get things done – I looove this feature.

9. : I am completely blown away by this app. No matter what your political affiliation is (if any), the fact that this app will let you scan the bar code of ANY product and can immediately tell you about that company, their donation behavior, how they pay their employees and what PACs they belong to is pretty amazing. For all of you who have been asking for more information on the people behind the stores we all shop at and support, this is a fascinating tool. Whether or not you change your buying habits, this is an incredibly interesting way to find out more about the people behind the things you buy and the places you shop.

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10. : One of the things that can be scary about social media and apps in general are the rights you may or may not be giving away by using them. It’s incredibly important to read TOCs, but sometimes they’re confusing or have language that isn’t 100% transparent. CitizenMe is an interesting app that scans ALL the apps on your phone to tell you about policies in them you should be aware of and shows you how to change your settings if you’re currently sharing something you were unaware of or don’t want to do anymore. It also gives you the option to have the app scan and analyze your social accounts and updates to see how you “come across” to people online. It gives you a range of information from how conservative or liberal you seem to how friendly, trusting and “youthful” you seem from your updates. If you’re a brand who’d like a little analysis on how your social accounts are appearing to your followers, this is fascinating. I found out that I am apparently 65 years old in terms of my behavior and tone of voice. I blame my lack of emojis and LOL-ing.

11. : This new (free) app just launched yesterday and it lets you take a photo of something and find a similar object you can easily shop for online. I tested this out around my house on a chair, lamp and mirror and both the chair and lamp were matched pretty well. The mirror was a bust, but I think that’s because apps like this don’t tend to include as many fun/young shops and retail outlets as I’d like. So sometimes you end up with a similar but pretty fuddy-duddy looking doppelganger. It’s a great way to get familiar with style names and search terms, but as for an exact match, it’s not 100% there yet. But for me, it’s better than the other apps out there in the market that do the same function. The day they finally mix in sites like Target, West Elm and CB2 will allow for a wider range of more affordable results that feel a bit younger.

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*: We also launched our own app that makes mobile reading much, much easier. So if you want to read DS on your iPhone or iPad, this free app will come in handy.

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