5 Top Smartphone Apps From 2016

5 Top Smartphone Apps From 2016

On my flight back from Philadelphia this past week, I was flipping through my phone thinking about how incredible half the apps I have on it are.

How amazing is it that we can organize our life on a device that we can put in our pocket? That's incredible, right?

And to think people used to use phones just to talk to each other. Losers...

So here are my top 5 phone apps from 2016 which have changed my life this year.

1. Headspace

I recently wrote about this one in my column for Lavender Magazine, but I think it bears repeating. Headspace is an awesome app.

I often describe my life in multiple stages: come across some new thing -> hate it on principle -> acknowledge it might have benefit begrudgingly -> try it -> love it and adopt it. Meditation was one of those things. I thought it was a little cheesy, a little too "fuzzy," and avoided getting involved in the practice. And adopt it into my daily routine?! Are you crazy?!

However, as I was flipping through a Forbes magazine article about the routines of CEOs, I noticed a startling pattern - nearly ALL of them meditated or had a similar practice as part of their daily morning routine.

So on a whim, I gave it a try. And it made a huge difference. I'm now calmer, less reactive, and more willing to try new things.

Headspace is just my OCD manifestation of this impulse. It has guided meditations in certain packages, from mood things like 'anxiety,' to performance things such as 'focus.' Pick the areas of your life where you need work and reap the benefits. Highly recommended.

2. SoundCloud

I love EDM music. I like to listen to it all the time. Thank you, SoundCloud.

Yeah... that's about it.

3. Habitica

Guilty pleasure... I love this app. It's an example of gamification - when you gamify the mundane aspects of your life.

What I like about this 'to do' app is that you can create different categories for daily activities (which occur repetitively) and for 'to do' events, which are one-time things.

Every time you complete a task you get some experience and gold, which can level you up and give you access to new gear. While I'm not super into this aspect of the app, the small reward still does help me get more stuff done. I think it's a bit more useful than a traditional productivity app.

Definitely check it out - I think it's completely worth it.

4. VSCO

Or in other words, the app that makes all of your friends look like they're professional photographers. It's not a new app, by any means, but it's the app used by major bloggers and photographers across the country to give that interesting, colorful flair to their work.

If you're looking for an alternative to the preset Instagram pack, definitely check it out. And don't forget to download the free extra filters!

5. Kiwake

My latest true love. It's the only alarm clock app that's actually worked for me (and I've tried them ALL).

The concept is simple - engage your body, engage your mind, and remind you why you don't want to continue to be a lazy... well...

The first part, the physical activity, used to be kind of lame. You would take a picture of an object in your apartment and then you had to take a photo of that same object in the morning to get the alarm to stop. The problem was that you could take a picture of nearly anything if you were lazy and it would work. But they recently added a 'barcode' option, which actually requires you to find the exact item with its barcode before you can move on.

Then you get a mental exercise which you can scale in both repetitions and difficulty to get you up.

Finally you have to check off a list of the reasons you want to get out of bed in the morning.

I've found this actually gets me out of bed in the morning - and I am NOT a morning person. Or at least, I didn't used to be.

Give it a try. Now.

smartphone Apps (and 2016) are Awesome

So have you given these apps a try? What did you think? Any other suggestions for me to try out, or which have changed your life? Let me know! I'm always on the lookout for new productivity apps to try.

Internal medicine resident at NYU in New York City with an interest in heme / oncology (cancer care).