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Determine Whether an App is Worth Your Money in 1 Minute or Less

Determine Whether an App is Worth Your Money in 1 Minute or Less

With more than 1 million apps available in the App Store, it can be difficult to decide what’s worth your money and what you can live without. Although $1.99 might not feel like a risky investment, those periodic impulse downloads can add up. Just consider the fact that 80 to 90 percent of all apps are eventually deleted.

Luckily, there are a few universal indicators of a great app versus a glitchy mess.

Quick: Your phone is dying, and you have about a minute to decide whether or not to download the app before you leave that Wi-Fi hotspot. A quick evaluation of any one of these factors can give you better insight into the true value of the app, but all of them together paint a clearer picture that ensures you’re getting your money’s worth.

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1. Cost

If an app costs money, look for a free version first. Lots of apps offer a “lite” version that allows you to try out key features to determine whether an app fits your lifestyle.

The only time you should pay for an app is when you absolutely need the features the paid version offers and you’re familiar with the company making it.

2. Reviews

Don’t just look at the average star rating. Take in the whole package. The more reviews an app has, the more likely the aggregate rating is accurate. Read a few of the actual comments in the reviews. Are the most critical reviews about quality, reliability, or something else? An app could have a negative rating just because of an iOS or Android issue that’s already been resolved in a recent update.

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3. History

If you haven’t heard of a company, check out its website. As software companies gain experience and grow, they accumulate large catalogs of apps and games. How has their other software held up? Do they make regular updates to their apps? If a company has a track record of building good apps, it’s a strong bet that its next app will retain that level of quality.

4. Utility

Apps can drain your battery, even when your smartphone or tablet is asleep. When you fill your device with apps you never use, you have less space for pictures, videos, and music. It also slows your phone down considerably.

Before you buy an app, make sure it’s one you will use regularly. I use a little app called Genius Scan. It’s a very simple program that saves scans of documents as PDFs, which is very handy on the go. I started using the free version and then upgraded to the paid version, which allowed me to upload PDFs to the cloud. It’s incredibly simple, but the $3.99 I paid saved me the cost of buying a scanner.

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5. Privacy

Many apps ask you to log in with your Facebook or Twitter account. Use caution when doing this. It’s not worth exposing your personal information to a company simply to unlock another level in a game. Many games and apps ask for more access than they need and, once they have your information, it’s theirs forever.

If you’re uncomfortable with the access an app you’re downloading is asking for, don’t allow it. If it’s a necessary permission, you can always enable it later. Treat your personal information (including social media accounts) just like your Social Security number. Keep it safe.

With so many apps to choose from, it’s tempting to download a bunch on impulse just because they seem cool. But just because your friends are buzzing about an app doesn’t mean you need it on your phone. Listen to their recommendations, but also factor in user reviews and your own research. In the end, it’s not really about the $1.99 you pay–it’s about the valuable home screen real estate you’re giving up and the privacy you could be sacrificing.

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Featured photo credit: Photo of an iPhone 5C/ Dedi Grigoroiu via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on February 15, 2019

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

Joe’s Goals

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    Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

    Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

    Daytum

      Daytum

      is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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      Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

      Excel or Numbers

        If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

        What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

        Evernote

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          I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

          Evernote is free with a premium version available.

          Access or Bento

            If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

            Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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            You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

            Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

            All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

            Conclusion

            I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

            What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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