Ok, so these days, life is really a complicated business. It’s true that we don’t have to struggle for our survival, in fact, that has been taken care of by the infrastructure that the society has collectively put up, yes, but the dawn of a new age brings new problems. Whatever we do,many of us simply can’t manage life properly, and there remains a tingling sensation at the end of the day, that something went amiss. If you share my feelings, I guess these apps are for you as well.
So, what am I trying to convey here? Well, the simple thing that with proper utilization of the nifty Android devices (thanks Google!) we have, we can actually be in charge of our lives. And these apps are for that purpose – betterment of the life of an average (and tech-savvy) Indian. These apps are all free, and I have tried to describe their purpose, but overall there’s no genre uniting them all more than Life Improvement apps. It’s for you to decide whether that holds true or not. Some of these apps work better with additionally smart-devices such as smartbands and smartwatches, but they do work neatly on your phone as well.
On to the apps!
1. Sleepbot: Take control of your sleep patterns
SleepBot was one of the best things to have ever happened to life-loggers back in 2011s. It is a very sophisticated app, free and ad-free, and packs in a wide array of different features to aid you in your sleep-tracking. Definitely, it’d work better with an Android-powered smartband, but even without that, it can be of real utility to all of us who’d like to organize our lives better.
SleepBot is essentially into sleep-tracking. You simply punch in the optimal hours of sleep (can vary with your age and work), open the app once daily and enter the approximate timings of your having fallen asleep and woken up, and the app does the rest. The app develops helpful info-graphs on your sleep pattern, duration, wake-up times etc and can help you analyze them better. The data you enter is automatically backed up online, thanks to its integrated cloud technology.
We may not be able to fall asleep at the same time each day, and it can be a real mess to try fixing the alarm each time, with sleepy eyes. SleepBot can take care of that. It can remind you that it’s the time to sleep, automatically set the smart-alarm after you tap a single button at the time of falling asleep, and even display some really good tips to help you fall asleep better! The smart-alarm of SleepBot is a charm indeed. Instead of those loud crackly alarm-apps, it slowly rises in intensity and gently wakes you up. And if that’s not all, it knows when to wake you up, because it can calculate your REM phase duration, sleep intensity transition phase etc and then do the right thing.
A word of caution though – I wouldn’t recommend using the SleepBot’s smart-alarm feature on the days you’ll have to wake up at a particular time. Android’s built-in alarm clock can do it better.
PlayStore Link: http://goo.gl/KUPD9B
2. WYB (Water Your Body!): Are you drinking enough water?
Our hunger and thirst centres don’t work the way they did even a couple of decades ago. I am a product of the tech-savvy age, and it’s more or less impossible for me to imagine how life had been before 1995, at least, since I wasn’t there as a witness (to paraphrase the Samkhya Philosophy). Well, these days at least, we often forget when to drink water.
It is a medically supported fact that you should drink a certain quantity of water each day, to stay hydrated. Water is a vital requirement for the body to function properly – it eases the filtration of blood, reduces lethargy, improves regeneration-rate of cells and tissues, makes circulation easier and even helps in excretion. And if that’s not enough, not drinking enough water can leave you groggy, and really affect your skin. I experienced that, honestly. For several years, I forgot (sigh) to drink enough water, and it left some horrible winters for me. I was stupidly applying every sort of moisturizer out there to keep my skin from fracturing, and it was a tedious business. Then I realized the simple truth – I wasn’t drinking enough, water of course!
Here is where WYB came to my rescue. This little app by North Park does one thing, and does it well. You simply punch in your body-weight, and the apps recommends a particular quantity of water you should drink each day. There are multiple containers such as bottles or various sizes, cups and glass, from which you can select a default cup (of a certain size). My default cup is 500 mL in capacity, and as such edited the value of one of the smaller cups, and entered it. So, once that’s settled, all you have to do is just open the app and tap on the + button on the virtual cupboard displayed, to add another 500 mL of water consumed. I was recommended to drink 2000 mL of water each day, but I am a hydration-freak and changed it to 2500 mL. As such, I need to drink 5 full cups of water each day.
Did I mention that the app automatically reminds you to drink another cup of water, after you’ve spent a while without drinking any? The notification is quite realistic – babbling water being poured into a glass. It can come really handy, if you’ve a busy day. The app also automatically keeps a record of your hydration level, and makes nice graphs on it.
Play Store link: http://goo.gl/NtcEv9
3. J&J 7 Mins Workout: Develop your muscles and stamina, or simply stay fit.
Not everyone of us can find time to jog outside. And in my case at least, in the rather crowded part of Kolkata where I live, trying to jog outside (unless I walk to the nearby field) would mean sure collision with a bicycle, at least. As such, there are people like me who like to exercise at home. And for us, J&J Official workout app is a breeze.
Free and ad-free, this is perhaps the best thing that could have happened to the genre of exercise apps. It’s a bit massive – 43 MB in total, but it’s really brilliant. It packs together around 36 simple exercises ranging from push-ups and side-to-side lunges to abdominal and neck exercises. All in all, it’s a pretty decent app when it comes to the interface. The UI is solid, and looks rather cool in my opinion – clean red on white. The UI is also very straightforward, you need minimum amount of customizations to get it going.
In my experience, the exercises are very simple, and they require some space and a chair (at least the ones I’ve tried so far). The Smart Workout mode actually learns from the user as it goes – you can like or dislikean exercise, and this will affect how your next smart routine is configured. Needless to say, the app itself does the work with its algorithms. The main features of this app are:
1. Totally free and ad-free! What more can we expect?
2. Excellent and intuitive UI.
3. Multiple modes of exercise routines – Smart Workout, 7 Mins Workout, a comprehensive Workout LIbrary with 16 sets or routines.
4. Progress-tracking and fitness-graph integrated with the app.
5. Warm-up option available before the routine – followed by Cool-down option after it.
6. Fully multimedia experience – audio and video descriptions of the workouts as you do. Audio and graphical notifications at the end of each routine.
7. Article recommendations on fitness, to keep your motivation going.
PlayStore Link: http://goo.gl/0YasVn
4. Relax M Meditation by Ipnos: Relax and sleep better with a customized mix of natural sounds
Thanks to technology, we are insomniacs. But what if we can make technology help us fall asleep? This was the question possibly in the minds of the developers at Ipnos, who put up quite possibly the best relaxation and sleep app to cure insomnia. If you’ve seen the Bengali movie Patalghar (The Underground Chamber), you had seen how Aghor Sen’s (the eccentric scientist, played by Soumitra Chatterjee, arguably the greatest actor in India) machine makes every creature around him fall asleep. Relax M Meditation isn’t that effective, definitely, but it’s a start.
This app has in-app purchases, but the free version would be all you need to sleep better. It curates a selection of handpicked sounds, natural ones such as Tropical Rain, Forest Birds, Frogs, Water Stream, Wave Splashes etc, together with some relaxing sounds played by experts, like Chinese Flute, Asian Prayer, Harp, Waiting for Winter, Japanese etc. Just start the app, tap on a sound you like, tap another and thus build unique relaxing mixes.
And that’s just half of it. The real magic comes into play via those brainwave frequencies. There’s on for concentration (20 Hz), another for relaxation (10 Hz) and yet another for dreamless sleep (2.5 Hz), in the free version, which should do the job. Together with your mix, be sure to tap one of these (as you require), and be prepared to be thrilled! Simply lie down in a relaxed state, put on your headphones, and start your mix. And seriously, I was skeptical of this myself, but it seems to work.
PlayStore Link: http://goo.gl/NF9Hhi
5. BrushDJ by Benjamin Underwood: Brush with style, and music!
Brushing is a absolute requirement for maintaining good oral hygiene, but it can be rather boring. And as such, we simply rinse before the time. As per optimal data, we all should invest 4 minutes each day in brushing alone, a 2-minute exercise done twice. But how do we keep track of time? It’s hard to just stare at the clock, and it’s not cool. Naturally, BrushDJ comes to the rescue.
Once again a free and ad-free app, BrushDJ is a feature-packed timer for brushing. Once you start, just tap on it, and the timer starts running. Even better, it can play music from your default player, during the time. A tint notification every 30 seconds tells you to change the quadrant, and finally, there’s the sound of applause cheering you for brushing well!
BrushDJ is a nifty addition. Although a little buggy, it does work well most of the time. You can choose what type of music to play in the app settings. It can grab one randomly from your library, or from a pre-specified playlist. Soothing, isn’t it?
PlayStore Link: http://goo.gl/VPwMKx