Technically Living: Five Apps You’ll Want to Try

Technically LiveingI am inclined to apps that support sociability, productivity, learning or positive health outcomes. At the core of what technology means to humans is the assumption that it will enable achieving some outcome. So when judging apps, I use this backdrop as the basis for my decision. If it helps me do something better that results in a positive outcome, I often keep using it. These five I use nearly every day to improve aspects of life.

The Fitbit app and online dashboard are a digital coaching system that aims to improve health. It is designed to motivate users by tracking activity, weight, sleep and food consumption and comparing that against user-defined goals. It aims to motivate users through leaderboards, notifications and badges that act upon the basic reward system. It leverages gamification and social principles to allow competition with friends.

Fit Brains is a brain trainer that is backed by scientific research. It offers a suite of personalized training tools that improve cognitive performance. It is built upon an adaptive learning engine that gauges performance and adjusts the game to individual user’s needs. Users have reported improved memory and recall, deeper concentration, clearer and quicker thinking, stronger problem solving skills and positive mood changes. The free version offers limited access; the subscription-based model is as low as $9.99 per year.

Lumosity is also a brain trainer backed by scientific research. Designed by neuroscientists and grounded in studies about neuroplasticity, it aims to improve memory, attention, flexibility, speed and problem solving. Like Fit Brains, it guages performance and adjusts the games to suit current performance while constantly pushing users gently forward into more difficult exercises. There is a free version and a one-year subscription at $6.70 per month if year is paid at once.

Headspace is a guided meditation app that aims to provide users some relief from a busy mind. Designed to offer bite-sized daily trainings that also build upon neuroplasticity concepts, Headspace touts itself as being able to improve wellbeing. The creators say users will feel happier, reduce stress, increase ability to focus and sleep better. To accomplish this, the app includes 365 daily individual meditation sessions and 10 uniquely designed programs that guide you step by step through the process. The first of the 10 programs are free; subscription is needed to access the other nine. Headspace costs $7.99 per month if year is paid at once.

Duolingo is a language-learning app that currently offers training in English, Spanish, French, Italian and German. It leverages social and gamification principles to keep users motivated. It is completely free with no ads. It is simply a great way to learn a language while having fun with your friends. Even if you do not need to know another language for traveling or a job, learning a language is a great way to keep the mind young. With scientific research backing up claims that learning a language can aid neural growth and connections among neurons, it is a great way to continually work the mind and aid in keeping it sharp.

-Matt Artz, VP of Strategy & Operations, TR Technology Solutions.
Matt enjoys traveling, reading, music, yoga and meditation.