As tech reporters, we have a fun job that requires us to test many of the latest apps. But really, there are only a few apps we love and apply to our daily lives.
One thing we noticed when compiling our 2015 list of app obsessions: these aren’t only for entertainment. BI’s tech reporters increasingly use apps to help us do everything from laundry to tracking our heart rate to turning on and off light bulbs.
Here are the apps that stayed on our homescreens in 2015.
'Two reasons: Unlimited storage and automatic sync. I no longer have to be worried about running out of space on my phone, and don't have to waste time transferring the photos to my external hard drive. As someone who's got two kids, I take a lot of photos, and it's nice to have an app that will save all of them for me -- for free!'
-Eugene Kim, Tech Reporter
'I have an annoying tendency to pass over email subscriptions I don't like instead of taking the time to unsubscribe. Unroll.me turns deciding what email subscriptions I want into a Tinder-style 'swipe left/right' game. Though it doesn't work for me all the time, it has helped me unsubscribe from 75 email subscriptions already -- and I haven't felt like I'm doing any extra work.'
-Nathan McAlone, Tech Reporter
'I never really understood the hype around the internet of things before I got my first Lifx light bulb and downloaded the app. I'd seen other smart home systems like Wink that required you to buy a separate smart 'hub,' but my Lifx required no assembly besides just screwing in the bulb. Embarrassing as it may be, I get more joy out of turning my bedroom light on and off with my phone than I do from most of its other capabilities. By far my favourite tech product of the year.'
-Jillian D'Onfro, Tech Reporter
'Hooked is my new must-read on the train, standing in line for coffee, or even right before bed. It's turning short stories into text messages that I can't stop reading.
It's got a weird feeling of voyeurism as you're watching a text message conversation unfold but the drama each message packs has me hitting next until I finally get to the end of it.
It's dark and twisty, or cute and loving, depending on the story you get. As someone who reads news stories all day, it's a nice two minute escape into a fictional story without the commitment of reading a book.'
-Biz Carson, Tech Reporter
'Even though Facebook launched its own competitor this year, I obsessively check Timehop every morning because it's all encompassing -- I can see old Facebook posts, iCloud pictures, Foursquare check-ins, and more in one place. In fact, I open Timehop on my phone first thing in the morning every day.'
-Maya Kosoff, Tech Reporter
'I don't play a lot of games on my phone, but Alto's Adventure earned a place on my homescreen this year due to its gorgeous art design and genuinely fun gameplay. I play it a lot on the subway since the controls are pretty straightforward and don't require you to use both hands. The premise is a bit odd: You play a llama herder who must snowboard down a never-ending mountain, collecting llamas (points) and landing tricks along the way without crashing or running out of time. It mixes the pick-up-and-play nature of an endless runner game with the fun of 'Tony Hawk's Pro Skater' or 'SSX: Tricky.'
-Steven Tweedie, Tech News Editor
Alto's Adventure is currently $0.99 for iPhone.
'I'm obsessed with how many calories I'm burning. The Fitbit Surge is more comfortable than a chest strap heart rate monitor for certain workouts, like spinning. But I'm not sure how accurate it is. Sometimes it tells me my heart rate during a workout is only 105 or 110 when I'm pedalling at 80RPM+ breathing hard and sweating (meaning, has to be 140 to 150). Still, its nice to get a total of the day's calories to work with, instead of just guessing, ans I can't stop checking the all the stats, all day long.
Biggest gripe: It's too square and bulky to sleep in (so no sleep data for me!), and it's not pretty enough to wear for an evening out.'
-Julie Bort, Enterprise Editor
'This is the only app I've gone out of my way to show people this year. I love it because the concept is simple: it starts with a rhythm, then changes it ever so slightly 11 times over the course of 4 minutes. You have to tap the changed rhythm while the audio sticks on the original rhythm. Yet, it's fiendishly difficult. Every musician I've shown it to has been as fascinated and frustrated as I was. None have finished the hard level.'
-Matt Rosoff, West Coast Bureau Chief
'It's pricey, and it doesn't do anything I couldn't do myself. But goshdarnit, having someone come to my house, take my laundry, and return it to me two days later is just so useful.'
-Matt Weinberger, Tech Reporter
'I was sceptical about the notion of outsourcing my laundry. But when my family and I relocated to a temporary apartment for a few months this Fall, we decided to give Washio a whirl. To my surprise, this little laundry app turned out to be a real lifesaver. Instead of the drudgery of folding clothes, we quickly scheduled laundry pickups and deliveries straight from the phone. Clothes came back clean, neatly folded and accompanied by a tasty, complimentary cookie. And as far as I know, none of my socks are missing.'
-Alexei Oreskovic, Senior Editor