Entrepreneur

9 Best Mobile Apps We’re Thankful For This Season

November 14, 2017

This time of year, we’re trying to focus on the things we’re thankful for. It seems the appropriate thing to do, with Thanksgiving just around the corner and all. And being the mobile app obsessed folks we are, some of the best mobile apps we’ve seen were the first things that came to mind (well, after family and friends, of course).

In the spirit of sharing the love, we compiled a few of the very best mobile apps our staff just adores, running the gamut from apps that keep track of our kids, make our lives easier, and generally make the world a better place. We’re sure you’ll find something to love here, too.

HiMama

One of the most stressful things for parents (especially new ones) to do is leave their kids at daycare while they’re at work. Yes, it’s a necessity for most people — they have to work to earn money to provide for said children — but it doesn’t make the prospect any less anxiety-inducing. The makers of HiMama totally get it, and they’ve set off to relieve some of this tension with one of the best mobile apps every parent needs.

A photo of a grandfather laughing with his sons and grandson at a family gathering.
This time of year reminds us how important family is.

HiMama solves a couple of major problems. First off, it helps daycare directors and educators stay organized with attendance lists and the ability to take notes on each individual child, like developmental milestones or behavioral issues. They can even use the app to handle billing. This helps cut down on paper and printing costs for the daycare center, in addition to keeping all caregivers on the same page.

Second, HiMama allows daycare staff to send photos, videos, notes, and a daily report to parents with a simple tap of the screen. There isn’t a single parent that doesn’t like to get a photo of their kid during the day, happy as a clam playing with his friends. The daily report keeps them up on what happened while they were working, like what activities they did, if the child had a good or bad day, and if anything out of the ordinary happened.

A mobile app that makes lives easier for daycare teachers while keeping parents up-to-date with their kids while they’re at work? Sign us up. That’s a mobile app we can definitely be thankful for this season.

MagnusCards

In our opinion, some of the best mobile apps on the market are those that make a meaningful contribution to people’s lives and MagnusCards is doing just that. Inspired by her brother Troy, who has autism, Nadia Hamilton founded her company MagnusMode with the mission of helping those with cognitive special needs live more independent lives with confidence.

She created MagnusCards by combining a proven method of instruction (social stories) with elements of game design to help people like her brother learn everyday life skills and day-to-day activities like buying groceries or taking the bus. Using digital cards starring an animated wizard named Magnus, the app provides step-by-step instructions to complete various activities while promoting independence.

MagnusCards is suitable for children and young adults on the spectrum, which Hamilton hopes will empower users and ease the minds of caregivers. We love this app and think a lot of people will be thankful for it — not just this holiday season, but year round.

PhotoButler

Now that we all have smartphones in our hands, we’re all constantly snapping pictures — not to mention sharing them. Yet, that “sharing” part still feels clumsy sometimes — if you’ve ever been to a big event, like a conference or a wedding, you know how awkward it is to flip through a ton of seemingly unrelated photos in whatever hashtag everyone is using. Luckily, PhotoButler has you covered.

A photo of a group of friends gathered for a dinner party.
Friends are the family you choose.

PhotoButler is a real-time photo sharing app for events and parties. You can create a private, collaborative photo stream so anyone there can upload the photos they take, which essentially makes a photo album from a particular event that everyone can look at. We think this is perfect for weddings, holiday gatherings, family reunions, and birthday parties. We can’t think of a better way to collect memories than through photos taken by our loved ones.

Productive

We really love to-do lists around here. We keep them in apps on our phones, in notebooks on our desks, and on sticky notes on our computer monitors. But some parts of our daily routines are for fun. We don’t put them on our to-do lists because we don’t want them to feel like chores Who wants meditating to feel like something they’re obligated to do? Then meditating becomes a thing we have to do and it feels a bit stressful, having the exact opposite of its intended effect.

For our daily goals, like meditating, reading, and working out — our daily personal goals — we like to keep track of them on a fabulous app called Productive. The app lets you input morning, afternoon, and evening tasks you’d like to get in the habit of and then it reminds you to do them.

If one of your goals is to get up and run before work, specifically on Wednesdays and Fridays, but on Mondays, you want to hit up that spin class after work. You can enter these day and time-specific goals and then Productive will not only remind you to do them, but keep track of how often you actually accomplish your goals by telling you how many perfect days you’ve had (where you hit all your marks), how long your current streak is, and the longest streak you’ve had.

For us, seeing that current streak number tick upward provides a little extra motivation. Don’t you want to see how long you can make it last? It’s like competing with yourself. Hats off to the makers of this mobile app for making us want to kick our own butts.

Johnson & Johnson 7 Minute Workout

We know we’re supposed to exercise (our doctors tell us all the time), but sometimes it’s legitimately difficult to find the time, especially during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. There are a million workout tools out there, but one of the best mobile apps we’ve found is The Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout® App.

The 7 Minute Workout app combines high-intensity aerobic and resistance training using only body weight and limited rest, offering 72 exercises and 22 additional workouts. Workouts are designed to fit into — you guessed it — just seven minutes. These exercises can be done anywhere, like an office, hotel room, or your Airbnb.

A photo of a row of trees with vibrantly colored leaves changing from green to yellow and red.
We look forward to the leaves changing every year.

We’re willing to bet that most everyone can find seven minutes to cram in a workout. You can always do more than one if you’ve got the time. We’re grateful to J&J Director of Exercise Physiology, Chris Jordan, for finding a way to help us fit quick exercise sessions into our busy lives.

Ink Cards

We all know we should send out thank you notes if people give us gifts, but we don’t always enjoy handwriting them. If we run out, it may not be convenient to get to the store to buy more. And then we need to buy stamps. It’s just such a process. So when someone told us about Ink Cards, it basically changed our thank-you-note-writing lives.

We started using Ink Cards for thank yous, but quickly moved on to basically all cards after that. If you’re the card sending type (or perhaps you hate sending them and only do it out of obligation), this is definitely one of the best mobile apps for you. Each card is customizable with a personal message and even a photo, if you’d like. Planning to send holiday cards this year? These are perfect.

Upload a photo from your camera roll, type in a message (complete with emojis!), and you’re all set. They’ll mail the cards for you (with postage included), or you can choose to order a pack of cards and have them sent to you for mailing. This is going to make post-holiday thank yous a snap and our moms will never know how much faster it was.

NowFind

For the most part, we enjoy cooking. That is, when we can find the time for it and when we have people to share the fruits of our labor with. (We’re not convinced anyone enjoys cooking for themselves.) But nowadays, people are more in tune with food sensitivities, which can add a new challenge to that dinner party you’re throwing next week.

You don’t have any food allergies, but Pamela is a vegetarian, Kate can’t do dairy, and Alex has Celiac, which means you have some creative planning to do. One of the best mobile apps we’ve found for this kind of situation is NowFind, which provides a database of vegetarian, dairy-free, and gluten-free recipes (plus a new one for organic and non-GMO ingredients). NowFind will not only make life easier for people with these food sensitivities, but it will help us plan our party menus so no one is staring at a bunch of food they can’t eat, wondering how early is too early to skip out.

A photo of a person holding up their phone to take a picture of red leaves on a tree.
These leaves are screaming for Instagram.

Rover

Traveling is one of our favorite things to do. We love seeing new places, meeting new people, and catching up with family and friends, but as much as we want to, we can’t always bring our furry friends with us — and it’s hard to find someone you can trust to take care of them. This is how we fell in love with Rover, the best mobile app for taking care of Fido while we’re getting new stamps in our passports.

It may seem odd to hire a dog-sitter who’s a perfect stranger at first, but just think of it this way: once you find a good one, he or she isn’t a stranger anymore. Rover is very selective with their sitters, accepting only the cream of the crop, which amounts to about 20 percent of those who apply. Some sitters will even send dog owners updates throughout the day.

We love that Rover lets us search, book, and pay all within the app. After everything is set up, all we have to do is enjoy our trip, anxiety free, which is most certainly something to be thankful for this season.  

SPENT

Every small business owner is in search of the best mobile apps to help them navigate the whirlwind that is entrepreneurship. One of the most common areas in which people need help is tracking expenses, especially once business owners start hiring staff who are empowered with purchasing ability.

SPENT is an expense management app that makes it easy to organize personal and business spending, file expense reports, and track employee spending. You can even take pictures of your receipts, which the app matches with corresponding expenses. Just imagine the amount of time and hassle you’ll save by not searching your desk drawers for receipts at the end of the month. Insert praise hands emojis times infinity.

The other awesome thing about SPENT is that you can earn cashback by using cards linked to your account. You can earn up to 25 percent back by shopping at over 3,500 partnered outlets, regardless of whether the purchase was personal or business-related.

A photo of a Thanksgiving dinner table set and ready for guests.
Pass the corn on the cob, please!

The Best Mobile Apps are also the Most Useful

No one wants mobile apps they aren’t using just taking up real estate on their phone. We only have so much space and let’s face it: pictures (and funny videos) of our pets are taking up most of it. If we’re going to sacrifice some of that space, it’s going to be for some of the best mobile apps in the App Store and it’s a safe bet those apps will be super useful.

Life is busy and we need help sometimes, so if you’re working on your next mobile app, strive to make it as useful as possible. Perhaps it won’t be as flashy an idea as you’d initially hoped, but those fast burns are just that: quick. The apps with longevity are the ones people integrate into their lives and use daily — something they’re thankful for at the end of a long week.

From everyone at Proto.io, we wish you and your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving.

Proto.io lets anyone build mobile app prototypes that feel real. No coding or design skills required. Bring your ideas to life quickly! Sign up for a free 15-day trial of Proto.io today and get started on your next mobile app design.

What are the best mobile apps you’re thankful for? Let us know by tweeting us @Protoio!

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