Fitness, Sleep and Everything In-Between: 8 Must-Have Apps You Can Download For Free


Let’s face it: smartphones pretty much do the same thing. They all let you chat with those who matter, take photos, go on the web and help you navigate from one place to another.

The same can be said for tablets: they’re all flat and rectangular screens, ideal for consuming content.

As the millennials say, “amirite?”

But what makes these devices so magical and personal are all the apps you can download to truly customize the experience.

The problem is, there are more than two million apps available at the App Store (for iPhone and iPad) and Google Play (for Android), so you might not know where to start.

We can help.

The following is a handful of new and classic suggestions to get you going, all of which are free and work with both Apple and Android devices.

Photo courtesy of Libby

1. Libby

You’re aware you can buy ebooks and audiobooks for your smartphone or tablet, but did you know you can also borrow them from your local library? Yes, for free and with no late fees. So long as you have your library card and the Libby app installed on your device, there are tens of thousands of supported libraries worldwide. It’s not just old classics, but many of the newer New York Times bestsellers, too. Libby also boasts an impressive built-in e-book reader, graphic novel viewer and audiobook player.

2. MyFitnessPal

Log your food intake and exercise — wherever life takes you — so you can keep track of your fitness goals. This is the idea behind the free MyFitnessPal app. More than six million foods and restaurant dishes are in the database, and  you merely need to type in the food to get an accurate look at your caloric intake. (Or, even more convenient, scan the barcode of more than four million  foods to automatically log the information.) The app is securely synchronized with the web version, too, if you want to log in on a computer. Lose It! is a similar app worth looking into.

Photo courtesy of Web MD

3. WebMD

Speaking of health, medical info may be readily available online, but how do you know what sources to trust? In other words, it’s not ideal to rely on Dr. Google. But as with its website, the WebMD app delivers trusted health information to your fingertips. Look up symptoms and side effects, access an extensive database of drug information and search or browse through a comprehensive guide to medical emergencies — even without an Internet connection.

4. Mint: Personal Finance and Money

From physical health to financial wellness, Intuit’s Mint lets you set budgets, track expenses and reach your financial goals. This handy download for smartphone and tablet users lets you see what you’re spending (and saving) through colour-coded lists and graphs, plus you can track your bank account balances in real time, follow investments (including retirement contributions and balances), and even break out your expenditures by category and receive alerts when you’ve exceeded your budget.

5. 1Password

As the name suggests, 1Password helps you easily create, store and recall passwords. It requires one “master” password to enter the app and, once inside, you’ll see familiar logos for some of the most popular brands on the web, including Facebook, Instagram, Gmail, PayPal, Amazon, Dropbox, Netflix and eBay. Or you can create your own for, say, your bank, Internet Service Provider (ISP) or favourite news site. Let it create – and log you in with – tough passwords to help keep you safe.

6. Google Photos

Photo courtesy of Google Photos

Another practical pick is Google Photos. Regardless of the phone or tablet you’re on, have all your photos automatically uploaded to a secure “cloud” account – just in case your device is lost, stolen or damaged. Back up unlimited photos and videos for free (up to 16 megapixels and 1080p HD respectively) and access them from any device. All your images are searchable by the people, places and things in them – no tagging required – thanks to clever artificial intelligence. Easily share photos with others, see movies and collages made for you and use powerful editing tools to fix up your shots.

7. Color Me

Photo courtesy of App Labs

Colouring isn’t just for kids. Millions of adults – including boomers – find it a relaxing way to pass the time. With App Labs’ completely free app, paint in beautiful designs with thousands of images to choose from, with categories like Mandalas, Animals, Portraits and Flowers. Zoom into part of the picture, choose your desired brush type and colour, use your fingertip or a stylus pen and, when you’re done, feel free to share your creations with your friends.

8. Relax Melodies: Sleep Sounds

Another way to relax is with this Canadian-made app from Ipnos Software. As the name suggests, Relax Melodies helps you fall asleep by letting you choose from a myriad of soothing nature sounds (like crashing waves, light rain in a forest or a crackling fire), white noise, meditation sessions, bedtime stories and a section on SleepMoves, a series of body-mind exercises and relaxation techniques. No wonder the app has enjoyed 50 million downloads and counting!