ALOHA FROM JENNIE: Apple has trademarked the catchphrase, 'there's an app for that', and indeed, the Apple App Store and Android's Google Play store each have over a million software applications available. Thank goodness there are organizations and individuals eager to share app reviews and recommendations. One of our favorite sources, seniornet.org, published their 16 helpful apps for seniors which we've linked to here.
In this post, I'll endeavor to explain the practical applications of various software that I use in my day to day activities.
Utility apps: World clock - Remember when TV shows like "Lou Grant" would show clocks lined up on newsroom walls displaying the various time zones nationally and globally? In Hawaii, we don't observe daylight savings time (DST), and furthermore, we are six hours earlier than the US East Coast during the 'spring forward' phase of DST. Using the 'clock' app included with most portable devices, there is typically a 'World Clock' view, where you can set up the various cities that you have family in or do business with, so that you never inadvertently call anyone at 3 a.m. or have to do time zone adjustments 'in your head'.
Store apps: All store applications have varying degrees of usefulness, from viewing the colorful Sunday Walgreens insert ad without physically getting the local newspaper, to the Target app that will tell you the availability and aisle location of specific items once you’ve selected which Target store you’ll be visiting.
My favorite store app is the one provided by Safeway, a supermarket chain in the western/central United States and Hawaii. Subscribing to the adage that ‘time is money’, I won't typically clip coupons or drive from store to store expending gasoline, unless it’ll result in major cost savings.
However, Safeway’s app system will make weekly ‘Just for You’ digital coupons available on your Safeway club card account, presumably based on your buying habits (since my weekly coupons generally differ from Linda’s, for example).
Once I became used to checking these (over a hundred) weekly offerings and loading the ones I wanted onto my card with a tap of the finger, I then realized that if I usually only purchased grocery items for which I had a coupon, I would consistently save 25% to 35% on every grocery trip.
This beats paying full price if I didn’t take advantage of this system, so the significant savings on hundreds of dollars in groceries makes the extra time in organizing my purchases worthwhile. Most of your Safeway purchases also count towards accumulating Gas Rewards which Hawaii residents can turn in for a 20 cent per gallon discount at affiliated Chevron gas stations.
Service apps: Most banking institutions now offer apps that enable you to check your balance, view transactions (useful if you use a debit card for everything) and make online bill payments. My most important time saver is the ability to make check deposits via the app by simply taking front and back pictures of the check with the device rear camera. A few menu clicks later, the deposit is on its electronic way, with a deposit receipt being emailed several hours later and the funds available in one’s account the next day. These transactions seem relatively secure, and sensitive information such as account numbers are redacted on receipts.
Next, my auto insurer has an app which enables you to display a copy of your insurance coverage card, schedule premium payments, and get roadside or accident assistance (including a checklist of what to do in that event). It also has a link to the Gas Buddy app which lists the ‘real time’ per gallon price for the gas stations in your area.
When is a discount not a bargain? Interestingly, I’ve stopped redeeming the 20 cent off per gallon Safeway Gas Rewards accumulated on the grocery card, because the Gas Buddy app tells me that in my area, the Chevron gas stations affiliated with Safeway typically charge 10 to 20 cents more per gallon compared to their 76, Shell and especially Tesoro counterparts, and of course, Costco or Sam’s Club gas prices are even lower still. This disparity probably does not occur in metropolitan areas where gas station clusters need to be more competitive, but I'd be curious to see what your local experience is.
Have you come across situations where you may have wondered if 'there's gotta be a better way' by using apps to solve a problem?