5 Phone Apps Everyone Should Have

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A woman holds her smart phone. The title "5 Phone Apps Everyone Should Have" is overlaid.

phone apps

Your phone screen is likely filled with messenger apps, social media apps, gaming, banking apps, and so on. But do you have these five essential apps on your phone? I know I do!

1. The GIF Keyboard

You’ve got your messenger and your other messenger, but do you have anything to make those messenger conversations any fun?

Belle and Elena have a conversation using just GIFs.

Other than my actual texting app, the most used app on my phone is the GIF keyboard by Tenor (Apple, Android). Entire conversations can be had with little clips of favorite shows, movies, interviews, and on. More elaborate and accurate than emojis, I can’t go a day without using it.

Be warned: while it can be hilarious and entertaining, it can also be used as a great source of annoyance. Let the spamming commence.

In a group message spammed with GIFs, a member complains about having to skip past all the spam messages to the last message that was sent.

2. A News App

It’s important to stay in the know, and not just on who recently updated their relationship status on Facebook. Especially in this day and age. Spend the $2.99 a month or whatever small amount it is to subscribe to a newspaper or other journalist source.


The one on my phone is TheSkimm. I’ll admit that I’m a combination of busy and just too lazy to read the news for longer than five minutes, so I instantly fell in love with the concept of all the headlines and updates in a quick-read version. If I want more info than they provide, I can look it up. If I don’t, I can continue on with my day. Either way, I at least know more than I used to. Gone are the days of people saying “Did you hear about that earthquake in Mexico?” and me saying “What!? No!”. Now, my response is: “Yes, and as of this morning the report was that ten people have died.” Bam, knowledge.

A screenshot of theSkimm app, showing a portion of an article wherein information from both the supporting position and critical position are presented.

Not only is it quick and to the point, it’s also got enough sass and sparkle to make it interesting. I never miss the chance to read it on my morning bus ride into work. Check it out.

3. Duolingo

Learn a language for free!? Whaaaa? Seriously, this app is fantastic. Are you going to become so fluent that you could become a professional translator? Probs not. Will you be able to hold a more-than-basic conversation in that language? Probs yes.

Duolingo can teach you Spanish, German, French, Chinese, Danish, Russian, and more. It even has courses in Esperanto, Hebrew, Irish, Welsh, and Swahili. Practice as little or as much as you like. You can even sync up with your friends and family to keep you motivated.

A screenshot of the TwoFeelsWrite Learn German Duolingo club. The joining code is AMW6MT

I especially love the format. I’ve previously tried Rosetta Stone and was constantly frustrated by not being able to find literal or exact translations. The technique works for some, but it made me want to quit, and therefore not absorb anything. Duolingo has cartoon graphics, matching, audio, speaking, and translating exercises to give you a variety of learning techniques. My favorite part, however, is being able to click on the words if I need to see a definition. That way I’m not guessing over which of the two words means “bike” and which means “red”.

4. A Book App

Please, please, have a book app on your phone. Reading is good for you! And you never know when you’re going to be stuck somewhere and in need of entertainment.

I’m able to dramatically increase my number of books read each month by listening to audio books while brushing my teeth, commuting to work, cooking dinner, or even while at the gym. There are paid services like Audible and Scribd that let you download audiobooks every month to you library. Those, plus apps like Google Books and Kindle can get you ebooks as well. Short on cash? Check with your local library! More than likely, they have an app (Overdrive or Axis 360 are common) where you can check out ebooks and audiobooks for free. Make it work, people.

A screenshot of a grouping of iPhone apps. In the "Learn Folder", the apps Duolingo, Scribd, theSkimm, and Axis360 are pinned.


Related Reading: What Should I Read Next?

5. Waze

I really like this map app because it updates in real time. Traffic jam on the interstate? Waze will find you another route. A car is stopped on the side of the road up ahead? It’ll alert you. There’s a cop hiding behind the sign around the corner? It’ll give you the heads up.

A screenshot of Waze. A map of Denver has alert tags about the location of favorite shops, police, and construction.

Drivers and passengers using the app can upload notifications about construction, traffic, and hazards. Other drivers and passengers can then confirm that such a condition exists, or let the app know that, nope, the traffic has cleared out, carry on. Just be careful to not become less aware of your driving and the road just to update someone about the pothole you only just narrowly missed.



What apps do you recommend?

December 5, 2017
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  • Reply Mariah

    Gifs are a total must! I love that they are built into the keyboard now. I used to use giphy but this is so much easier!


    December 8, 2017 at 5:52 pm
    • Reply TwoFeelsWrite

      I used to use GIF GIF GIF or something of that nature. I find that the GIF keyboard by Tenor is the easiest and most reliable, but it’s definitely all about personal preference when it comes to something fun 🙂

      December 8, 2017 at 6:40 pm

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