iPhone Apps that Can Help You

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The right iPhone apps can help you make light of every day chores and add enjoyment to your life.

favorite apps for iphone

About a year ago I broke down and bought an iPhone. I bought the iPhone4 for $99, exactly $99 more than I had ever paid for a phone. Up until that point, all my cell phones, ever in my life were free.

Please understand the magnitude of this. This was a huge, ginormous, big, honking deal.


A year later, I’m really glad that I did. Having a mini computer in phone form has helped me check the weather, answer emails, find a phone number, check the traffic, locate an address, track my calories and exercise, get my house in shape, and figure out meal plans and grocery lists.

Most of the apps I use were free to download via iTunes. I’m still choking over that $99, so I’m not ready to spend a lot of money on apps.

Here are my favorites that I use on a regular basis:

iphone appsPre-loaded apps

These apps were already on the phone when I bought it. Since I don’t read directions, I have simply figured out how to make them work for me over time. Some are pretty self-explanatory.

Messages – I rarely texted before the iPhone, but with iMessage and its unlimited free texts, I can ask my mom or sister a quick question, send my dad a photo, or send cry for help to a myriad of friends. I’m still not an all-day, every day texter, but I love this feature on my phone.

Clock – The clock not only tells me the time, but it lets me set a bazillion alarms. I use the alarms for keeping our school on an even keel. I use the stopwatch often during recipe development so I can make notes on how long a certain part of a recipe takes. I use the timer to track my daily time budget as well as keep tabs on the kids’ game time or school activities.

Photos – Duh, this is merely a camera roll of photos take on your iPhone. I download all the photos to my computer on a regular basis so there aren’t usually an abundance of photos on the phone. I do need to get more practiced at backing up my photos from there, though.

Calendar – I use Google calendar as well as a paper calendar in my planner to track my appointments and responsibilities, like writing assignments. I sync Google calendar to my phone so that I always have at least one copy of my calendar with me. Invaluable.

Weather – I’m not thrilled with the pre-installed weather app from Apple. It’s often “off”. But, I like its display better than others I’ve tried. I track the weather in Paris and Collioure as well as where my parents and my in-laws live. It’s kinda fun to know what the weather is like elsewhere. If you’ve got a favorite weather app, I’d love to know about it.

Calculator – I use the calculator function several times each week, while grocery shopping or paying bills. I love having a calculator so handy.

Notes – This is probably one of my favorite pre-loaded apps. I write down recipes, lists, things I want to remember. I can then message it or email it to myself or someone else. Super handy. Plus, it syncs to my iPad, so I always have those notes with me. On our recent vacation, I started keeping notes of packing lists, freeway exits, and other things to remember next time we take a road trip.

Reminders – I use this every single day. Reminders are formatted in checklist form so I use it mostly for grocery lists. As soon as something hits the cart, I tap it and it disappears off my list. I have a list for each store I shop at. An added feature is that I can move items from list to list. If Costco doesn’t have something, I can move it to my Walmart list in just a few clicks.

Music – I don’t have a huge music collection since I’ve been too lazy to load my CDs into iTunes. If you keep up with your iTunes, you’ll have a great collection.

Safari – If you’re a mac user, you already know that Safari is the Apple internet browser. I use this almost on a daily basis to read articles and blogs on the internet and to do an internet search. With so much info available on the internet, it’s like having an encyclopedia in my purse 24/7.

Mail – I love mail. While I prefer to answer emails from my laptop, the mail feature is quite handy for quick sending and receiving.

Phone – self-explanatory, no?

livestrong app

Free apps

My Plate by Livestrong – FishPapa and I both downloaded the free version of MyPlate last summer when we started counting calories and being more mindful of what we’re eating. I took the winter off tracking. But, in light of my summer goal, I’m back to tracking my weight, water drinking, food intake, and exercise. I don’t think that counting calories are the end-all/be-all of living, but I’m always surprised to learn how much I’m overeating. Seriously.

Google Maps – Google Maps has been amazing for me as I start to take the kids farther afield on field trips. It talks to me! Last summer our truck was broken into and our GPS was stolen. Now, it has been restored with Google Maps. Not only does this app tell me how to get somewhere, but it also gives me traffic updates, so I can avoid certain routes that might be too congested. This was particularly helpful on our recent trip through Los Angeles.

Note to self: Leave at 6 am if you plan to spend less than five hours in the car from San Diego to Santa Barbara on a Saturday.

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook – These social media apps make tweeting, posting, and sharing a lot easier. Since my dad and siblings have accounts, it’s a great way for me to keep up with them. (You can follow me @fishmama, @jessicagfisher, and @LifeasMOM.

Pandora – Pandora’s internet radio is the music app of choice around here. FishBoy11 listens almost 24/7. We have maxed out our number of free stations, but I refuse to pay for the upgraded version. I’m good with free.

YouVersion Bible – Earlier this year, you all clued me into the YouVersion Bible reading app. I love this way to stay in the Word without losing my place. Quite literally. I use this app on my iPad to read Bible with the kids each morning. So handy.

Apps that cost money

This post does include iTunes affiliate links. If you make a purchase through those links, I am paid a small amount in way of advertising fees. Your price is not effected.

Camera+Tsh told me about this app a few months ago. It’s now my preferred camera app. I don’t know how, but it takes much better pictures than the standard iPhone camera. Love it. And it was totally worth the buck ninety-nine.

Motivated Moms – I knew about the Motivated Moms planner for years. Once I got the iPhone, I tried out the app and loved it. While I usually lean on my household notebook, I really do like this app for jump starting my housekeeping. If I find that things are kind of in shambles, following the app’s assignments for a couple weeks helps me get back on track.

Those are my main or favorite apps for iPhone that help me organize and enjoy my “life as MOM”.

Do YOU have a favorite iPhone app?

I’d love to hear what helps you. Share it in the comments.

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  1. My favorite preinstalled app, in addition to the ones you listed, is the Camera on the iPhone. It takes decent photos, is handy to have the phone with me — and it takes videos (which I discovered at first accidentally. But now I have a lot more videos of my kid than ever before!)

    Free app’s: the Kindle reading app. I can read ebooks on my phone and always have something handy with me to read. I can also email personal .pdf documents to my kindle account, meaning I don’t have to be at my computer to read ebooks I have purchased; and I can handily have other documents — such, as for example, my daughter’s school supply list, awaiting the summer sales — always handily with me.

    I would have previously also said the iHandy free Flashlight app — it has been handy to have a flashlight when looking for a dropped toy in the car, navigating my way to the bathroom in the night at my in-laws’, etc. — but lately it hasn’t been working very well for me. 🙁

    I also tried the YouVersion Bible app after reading about it on Life As Mom, but it didn’t really work me, as I mostly keep the cellular data/wi-fi connections on my iPhone turned off unless I’m actively using them. I wanted a Bible reader I could use when offline. I currently keep a Bible ebook among the items stored on my device in the Kindle app. Am I missing something with YouVersion?
    I got my iPhone last fall. Like you, I’d never spent that much for a phone before. But I also love it. For the texting, the camera, the calendar, the reminders, the reading, the clock/alarms, email, Facebook, etc., etc., all in one convenient, portable place.

    1. I like the Olive Tree Bible app because it doesn’t require the Internet.

    2. There are some versions on the YouVersion that you can download for free and will then work without Internet. I downloaded ESV for free.

  2. I love my cozi app. I just use the free version. My husband & I can both access it from our iPods & the Internet. We can add appointments & designate who it’s for. It also has a journal so I can add pics and make notes of what happens. Especially handy for keeping up with milestones for my 1-year-old.

    I like Health Album, too. It keeps up with weights, immunizations & appointments for my kids and each have their own profile on it.

      1. Theoretically, there’s not a huge difference between Cozi and Google. It’s the format that I like much better. I just like the layout of Cozi better on my phone and on the desktop. The other thing I love about Cozi is that it feels much easier to me to put in the multiple sports schedules, and if there’s an exception to the normal practice days that I need to note, it is just easier when entering it. I tried to like Google because the rest of the world, including my hubby, use it. You can do the same things with Cozi, and you can also download the read-only calendars the same as with Google. In fact, since dh likes Google so much, I just left the family entries that are important to him in our Google family calendar and imported it into my Cozi calendar so we are both happy. I only use the free account, so I’m not sure what the benefits all are for the paid version, though.

        1. Thanks! That’s very helpful. So, it’s more of a design thing?

          1. There’s some other features that I like. I use the to-do list for tracking my work files. It shows up right at the top of the calendar, and you can easily make it show up in the calendar also. Before I got a smartphone, I would use their list feature to send the grocery list to my phone via text. Let’s see. Someone else mentioned a journal on there. I haven’t really used that feature. There’s also a meal planning area with some recipes. I prefer to plan that out on paper usually, but I do have a meal calendar set up on Cozi that I use if I’m really on top of my game.

            Right now, if you sign up for a new account, you can get a $20 Shutterfly certificate. It expires soon, but, hey, try it out for a week and see what you think.

      2. Cozi has a lot of the same features of the google calendar and google can sync with it. I got the gold when they were having a 50% off sale. The gold allows use of dinner planner, recipe box (which you can have the ingredients added to your shopping list) and the shopping lists. All color coded by family member with reminders. It also contains a journal section. I really like it!

        I use just “flashlight” free app and it works fine. The new iOS will have a quick button function to turn on the light, no app will be necessary.

        I like living earth for weather. It has neat animation to go with the weather report.

        I live with my kindle and nook apps on both my phone and iPad.

        I also use jingit and ibotta for earning money for my normal grocery shopping.

        I use the pull ups big kid app to help my 5 yo stay on top of going potty! She just here’s the chime and runs to the potty. It just pulls her out of the activities she gets so deeply involved in!

        We even used to use our phones together for a baby video monitor! It was $6.99…but way cheaper and more reliable than the $130 monitor my dad got me!!

        Starbucks has an app to track your registered acct and rewards…most importantly to allow you to locate the closest one to wherever you are!

        EVERNOTE! I actually used to use it mostly for storing all my recipes in one place…but I keep a lot of notes in there!

  3. HoursTracker – we paid for the non-free version because it’s so handy. We use it to track any number of projects but it’s ideal if you’re a small business person.

    SmartPeople – like the Livestrong app you mentioned.

    Grocery IQ – it’s free and I’ve used it for a while so I’ve got quite a database of prices and usually bought items but I suppose any grocery shopping app would be great.

    For homeschoolers teaching high school, the Wolfram apps are handy to aim you in the correct direction when working on some problems.

  4. I love the Fooducate and Lose It apps for grocery and calorie tracking. Both let you scan food labels. So awesome! I lost about 20 pounds just tracking my calories with Lose It for a few months!

    I also use Class Dojo to award my kids “monster points” throughout the day for things they do great (share, pick up toys, practice instrument, read a book, etc.) Each kid gets their own little monster avatar and you can customize the activities to be specific to your children. Then I let them spend their points for things they want (kind of like an allowance). You can use this app as a teacher and build a whole classroom management system, but I currently just use it at home w/ my kids.

  5. I don’t have an iPhone, but one of my favorite apps is Out of Milk. It is a grocery app that you can keep track of prices, move items to different lists, share, etc. I use it all the time. I know that it’s available for the iPhone for free also, because my hubby has it on his iPhone.

    I also recently got Chef Tap and am really liking that. I can copy recipes quickly from around the web and easily put them into Chef Tap. It’s a neat little app that would really awesome on an iPad if I had one. I’m not sure if it is available for iPhones or iPads, though. I even have a couple of Jessica’s recipes in there. 😉

    Cozi is the online calendar and app that I use. I already talked about that.

    I’m looking forward to reading about everyone’s favorite apps!

  6. Camera + has a flashlight feature, so no need to download a flashlight app if you already have Camera +. I love the Nike+Running app – it tracks my walks and runs, showing me how long I’m gone, how many miles I’ve gone, my pace, and a GPS map of my route. I use Trip Advisor and Yelp for opinions on hotels, restaurants and sights for traveling. And I have to admit that I have an obsession with Words with Friends and Solitaire – these are not useful/helpful apps, but they help pass the time in waiting rooms or when I have some downtime!

      1. After you open the app, click on the jagged arrow button in the top left corner. It will expand to show you some options – the far right option is a flashlight icon. Select it and the flashlight will turn on at the back of the phone. Click on the flashlight icon again to turn it off.

  7. My most used (on my iPad) are Evernote Food to save recipes and Timer+ to help me keep track of several things at once.

  8. Viber is a great app for wifi communication. My son is currently in Europe for the summer doing mission work. International cell plans are so expensive. So upon the recommendation from our missions pastor, we downloaded Viber (on his phone and mine/hubby’s here at home), then my son keeps his phone on airplane mode. When he has wifi access, he can text and call for FREE!!! (it works best on a wifi-to-wifi basis to make calls, so I make sure I’m on wifi also when we talk.) This has worked GREAT!!! It works much like iMessage on the iPhone for texting, except this is for calling also. (and my son does not have a iPhone, so iMessage isn’t an option for him.) This is our 2nd use of Viber on an International trip, and we have been very pleased.

  9. I finally broke down and bought an iPhone this year too. It has completely changed my life as a mom and business owner. Having the ability to check and answer my emails on the go has saved me a tremendous amount of time. And I love it!
    I am just getting into Instagram so I would have to say that my favorite iPhone app is Beautiful Mess. It is an app that allows you to add beautiful text and colors to your images. I use it all the time when adding images to my Instagram account or personal Facebook account.

  10. I’ve had my iPhone for about 1.5 years and I’ve loved it! I’m so glad I read this because I didn’t realize I could have multiple lists in Reminders! Now I have one list for long-term projects, one for recurring reminders and one for other reminders. Thanks!

    I love the LED Flashlight app for a flashlight and Drive Alive which helps me remember not to use my phone while I’m driving.

    1. I just learned that I could forward several messages at once from iMessage via email. Who knew?