The most important app

I am a big fan of magic rectangles. Magic rectangles are the single most useful tools we have at our disposal in our modern age. Magic rectangles find answers much more quickly than our puny pink meatsacks can. But these same magic rectangles are also creating serious issues.

As cultural analyst Sherry Turkle said in her TED talk

People text or do email during corporate board meetings. They text and shop and go on Facebook during classes, during presentations, actually during all meetings. People talk to me about the important new skill of making eye contact while you’re texting. (Laughter) People explain to me that it’s hard, but that it can be done. Parents text and do email at breakfast and at dinner while their children complain about not having their parents’ full attention. But then these same children deny each other their full attention…We remove ourselves from our grief or from our revery and we go into our phones.

C’mon magicians. There’s so much more that we can do than ignore each other.

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The most useful apps you can have on your magic rectangle

Mint

I love money, and I love keeping track of my money. Budgets are my jam (and jelly). There is no better app out there for budgetary needs than Mint. Mint will show you how much you’ve spent and whether or not you are over-budget. It will alert you about unusual spending, and it will keep you on track financially.

Square Register

Living in an apartment means splitting things. Having a large group of friends makes buying a pizza compicated. Before Square, everyone had to break a $20 and pay back in cash and coins (a very outdated, boring, unsafe, and time-consuming task). Now, I can take Visa and Mastercard and get paid properly. Sure, there’s a 2.75% fee. But compared to the hassles of money, it’s a sanity fee.

CamScanner

I type this having just used this app today to enter a contract for a class project. CamScanner will convert your photos to PDFs, which you can adjust and email from your phone. Kiss your expensive scanner goodbye.

Office Mobile

A newer addition to the Android Market (and maybe iOS), Microsoft just released its official Officer app: One Note, Excel, PowerPoint, and Word. Wurd.

GroupMe

As annoying as group texts can be from time to time, they can also be very handy things to have. So get it, but be sure to not be annoying. I’m looking at you, filter-picture-of-your-overpriced-latte-sharer.

Zello

Walkie talkies are cool. A walkie talkie with infinite range that runs off of your data connection is even better. The fact that it’s free is a cherry on top.

IFTTT

What I call the automize my life app, with IFTTT, you can creat recipes to do pretty much whatever you want. “Text me when the ISS passes overhead”. “Text my girlfriend when I leave work”, “Change my [Phillips Hue] lights to blue when someone likes my status”. Get the picture?

Duolingo

Languages are the bomb. Learning is cool. Wanna be the coolest cat on the bloc? [sic] Then download this app to learn any of 8 languages as if they were games. Das ist geil. Besides, look at the owl. He’s adorable!

GasBuddy

Paying for gas sucks. But I now know where the gas is cheapest, and know where to go and where to avoid to not get swindled by, say, a gas station near the airport that sells its gas for $3.70/gallon while just a few miles away it’s $3.40.

Spaceteam

This. game. is. freakin. awesome. You and a least one other person (up to 4 players) have knobs switches and dials on your screen. You also have space-age instructions, like, “Engage the flibbertigibbet to full power!” or “Feed the fish!”. Problem is, the directions are on your screen. But the fish button might be on your friend’s phone. In the meantime, your friend also has an instruction–and it’s timed. Go have fun.

THE MOST IMPORTANT APP ON YOUR MAGIC SQUARE THAT YOU COULD EVER HAVE EVER.

The off switch.

Instead of fiddling on our phones aimlessly when we’re with others, how about interacting for a change? It’s more fun, healthier, and creates meaningful interactions.

Do it. Turn it off when you’re around others. I quadruple dog dare you.

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