the wonderful world of veena.

05 February 2015

loving lately: apps + websites.

There are a few new-to-me apps and websites - and some that I've rediscovered - that I have been exploring lately, and I thought I would share some quick thoughts on them with you.

Trover. I first heard about this on Be My Travel Muse, and Kristin's words couldn't have been more correct: "it's like Pinterest meets a virtual travel agent". [or at least what I imagine Pinterest is like, because I have used it approximately 3 times in my life] It's a great way to post your pictures for other travelers to see and to get great ideas for upcoming trips. Planning a holiday in New York City? Just search for it in Trover and see the places other travelers have enjoyed in the city. It has certainly come in handy during my stay in Hyderabad, as I have gotten to see it through the eyes of both locals and visitors and have been able to choose which places I wish to see for myself. And it's so thrilling every time a traveler "thanks" you for posting a new discovery.

Touchnote. I can't remember whose blog I learned about this from, but it has quickly become one of my favourite apps. As someone who loves to write cards and letters but who hates having to hunt down post offices in India, this app comes in handy while living abroad. It allows me to send postcards with photos from my own Camera Roll, so that friends and family can receive copies of my pictures, making it more personalized. If I think someone would really like a particular photo, I can send them a card with it on the front! Prices vary depending on where the cards are going, but you can buy a pack of credits, which works out a bit cheaper. I began with a pack of 20 credits, which cost $29.95, and that covers worldwide postage for all of my cards. I'm still hand-writing my weekly postcards, because I am a purist and because I have a ridiculous collection that needs to be shared with the world, but I'm finding Touchnote makes it super easy to send quick notes to friends who are far away [especially for things like birthdays, since you never know with the Indian postal system how long things like that will take].

Podcasts. I am working on a much longer post about the particular podcasts I am currently listening to, but I just have to say, I am so glad that Apply finally gave Podcasts its own app. It's so much easier and more convenient being able to organize and access these on their own app, and it's made me much more diligent about actually keeping up with them.

Flipboard. I have used this on-and-off for the last 4 years - generally whenever I have space on my phone for it - and have always loved it. It curates news stories for you based on your interests and the publications you like, so that articles are readily available for you. I've always liked their interface, where it feels like you are actually flipping from one page to the next, and I find that the stories it gives me are relevant to my work and my interests. I also like that it will email me a daily Top 10, because I prefer reading on my computer rather than on my phone. Another similar app I like is called Zite, and I get most of my daily news and information from these two.

Evernote. I first downloaded Evernote when I was in grad school, but at the time I still preferred to use Microsoft Word for my class notes. I recently rediscovered it, however, when I began working at Zaya and found it was an easy way to organize my notes from my school visits as well as from meetings and articles or books I was reading all in one place. It has proven easier to use than I originally anticipated, which just goes to prove that I am generally behind the curve. Plus I like how easy it is to share notes with other team members if need me, and the syncing between devices is an added bonus.

Goodreads. I will be the first to admit, I go through weird phases with Goodreads. I will suddenly remember it and mark twenty or so books as "read", and then I'll forget about it for about 6 months, until I get an email saying that someone has added me as a friend. And then I'll repeat the cycle. But now that I have a phone with a memory larger than 16gb, I decided to download the app, knowing that I would be much more likely to keep track of books as I read them. Which is especially good, since I made it a goal to read 15 books for fun this year and 25 books overall. Making things even more convenient, on Goodreads you can now set challenges for yourself, so I can actually see how well I am progressing toward my goal. Oh, and having it linked to my Amazon account is just icing on the cake: as soon as I finish a book on my Kindle and give it a rating, it automatically syncs that to my Goodreads account, and I can also see the books I've ordered from Amazon and mark the ones I have actually read. It's a great way to keep track of which books I've read, and it also reminds me of how many I've ordered and promptly forgotten about...

Ola Cabs. India's cheaper - and safer? - version of Uber. It works in much the same way as Uber, except you have the option of paying by cash, and you can book a cab either by calling them or using their app. The minis run on pretty much the same fares as autos but are much more convenient, and much easier and safer to use if it is late at night; if you have more people or luggage, you can book a bigger vehicle, and the fare increases slightly. Shonali and I were using them regularly when I was in Bangalore, and they were pretty great. Bonus: they have autos as well who will pick you up from your front door for a Rs 10 convenience charge. Sometimes, in Bangalore, that convenience is worth it.

Trail Wallet. This is a new one I just downloaded after reading a review of it on Too Many Adapters, so I am still exploring it, but I have been wanting a good expenses app since I moved back to India and think this might be the one I stick with. Truth be told, this would have been a lifesaver during my summer road trip and would have saved me all the time I spent adding and categorizing and setting up formulas on Excel so I could keep track of how much I was spending. I'm looking forward to using the app some more and seeing how much I utilize it.

And there you have it, the tech-y things that are keeping me entertained these days. Anyone have any other good apps or websites you'd recommend?


  1. 1) Grizzlies app + Packers app - Tie for 1st

    All Others:

    - Spotify for all of your devices
    - Day One Journal app
    - UP app (and the UP24 Band)
    - Pandora app (if in the US)
    - FlightTrack app
    - SoundHound app
    - iA Writer app
    - Netflix app
    - TuneIn Radio app
    - Dish Anywhere app (if u have Dish Network and a Sling Box hooked up to it, so this one might just be for me)
    - Calculator app
    - Flashlight app
    - Mirror app


    1. Oh, my dearest brother...

      1. Thanks for reminding me about the Grizzlies app! There was some problem with it just before I left the States, so I had completely forgotten about it. Re-downloaded it today!
      2. There is no Grantland app for the iPhone. Thanks for rubbing it in.
      3. Notice in the first line I said "new-to-me" -- so that discounts the ESPN, YouTube, Wikipedia, etc.
      4. Third world problems -- your Pandora, Netflix, and a few others don't work if you are outside the US, or generally in countries where those services are not available, such as India.
      5. I don't need a mirror app, because I know I look good. You on the other hand...