Apps and Accessories for at Home Work & Play

Education, Fitness, how to, journal, Organization, productivity, Technology, tips and tricks, Uncategorized, writing

So…honestly, didn’t see this coming. Social distancing. Distance learning. I notice a theme here. And, as more people move to self quarantine status here are a few apps and accessories I’ve found to help.

Apps

Zoom: Video Conferencing

Looks like Zoom is going to take the top spot for online discourse. Zoom is offering free upgrades to teachers with their employee email address. I met with my students yesterday online for the first time and it went well. Easy to see everyone, the ability to show your screen (very helpful for my yearbook meeting), and record your session.

Libby by OverDrive

Libby is the official library app. Think of Netflix for books and audiobooks, only free. You use your library card to sign up and you have unlimited books at your fingertips. Read right within the app or send to your Kindle device.

Scribed

A little pricey (roughly $100 a year) but the books and audiobooks are new releases. Best sellers. Honestly, one of the best investments I’ve ever made. If you’re a book person, you need this service and, it’s less expensive than Kindle Unlimited which has a more limited number of contemporary texts. You can try the service out for, I believe 30 days, free of charge. It’s worth checking out.

Journal App: Day One or Dyrii

Both Day One and Dyrii offer on the go digital journaling. Why digital journals? I believe the biggest benefit to a digital journal during this time in history is the ability to add photos and link news reports. Also, they claim people won’t be able to read cursive handwriting in the future, although both offer handwritten pages using your iPad and an Apple Pencil. Day One backs up an encrypted version of your data on their own servers while Dyrii uses your Apple account to sync entrees (in case that makes a difference to you).

Workout App of Your Choice

Fitness is still important. Just because the pool is closed doesn’t mean I’m ok with losing my bikini body. Besides, cardiovascular health is important for everyone. Daily Burn and Beachbody have both opened their digital library and YouTube has some great options as well (I’d recommend anything from Tracy Anderson). I, personally, hate, hate, hate, Beachbody videos, they make me cringe, but they offer the most variety. Daily Burn isn’t quite so bad. If anyone is interested, I could put together a list of good videos for people who are looking to maintain their fitness (no beginner stuff) with videos which aren’t too cheesy (You can do this! You’re a superhero! 🤢 🤮 I just can’t. Clearly, I’m NOT a superhero).

Bear Notes

I know, I just wrote about them, but it’s worth another mention. Right now, I simply need a way to dump thoughts, write out the agenda for all my classes, etc. Calendar apps aren’t really working for that at the moment. I love the fact that I can add more than one tag to notes. I can find notes easily through the tagging system. I enjoy the multiple themes and different header options. Maybe I’ve just tweaked it into what I need it to be, but it’s still worth a look, especially since so many people are working from home.

ACCESSORIES

Otter + Pop

The Otterbox PopSockets duo. Normally, I’m not down with large phone cases, but since all the Apple Stores are closed I can’t exactly afford to have my phone damaged. Otterbox continues to be one of the (if not THE most) protective case on the market. And, to give them credit, they’ve slimmed down their cases over the years. It’s still my largest case, but not as bad as the Otterboxs of years ago. PopSockets, that’s a no brainer. With all the video chats, streaming workouts, and books you’ll be reading it’s nice to have a grip on your phone. One of the things I really like about the PopSocket on this case is that it’s slightly recessed, making it lay a bit more flush with the back of the case and it’s still an interchangeable pop grip. Right now I’m sporting an interesting combo of a case featuring lemons and a tortoise shell PopSocket. It works.

AirPods

Seriously, you need AirPods. I use them for workouts, video chats, regular phone calls. Everything. These things make life easier. I find myself recording my phone screen a lot for my students, they work with the MAC as well. I’m not a music person (and my Dad is a musician, personal rebellion, I guess) as in, I don’t walk around listening to music. I’m a story girl. I always have an audiobook or podcast ready to go. Pretty sure if you’re a music person, these are even more important. If, for no other reason, these allow me to walk around my house hands free. Meaning I can talk to my parents about their latest computer problem while getting my daughter her chocolate milk, banana, paper, marker, doll, dress, stuffed animal, hair tie…she’s four. I get a lot of things.

Ring Light

There’s a reason movie studios have so many lights, we just look better a little flushed out. I know some people are sporting pajamas all day and going without makeup, but that is not me. Getting dressed, wearing makeup, creating a sense of normalcy helps me, I do these things for myself. The ring light? Ok, that might be a vanity thing, but seriously, you don’t want to look a mess on all those Zoom chats. Again, I can not be one of those people who uses an avatar in place of a real person.

Apple Pencil

If you have an iPad, Apple Pencil is a must. Sometimes I feel the need to write things down. I can do that, within Bear Notes, with an Apple Pencil. The best native writing experience comes with the Noteshelf2 app. I have found myself writing in Noteshelf and then adding those notes to Bear. Again, it’s a weird walk around which works for me despite the fact those notes are editable once they’ve been deposited into my Bear note. I very rarely, if ever, edit a handwritten note.

UBeesize Tripod

Under $20 on Amazon, the UBeesize works with both cell phones and cameras. Not that anyone if vlogging during all of this. Please tell me no on is vlogging during all of this. The best thing about this tripod is that the feet bend. You an even wrap it around furniture so you’re finding at the perfect height. The only downside is that it doesn’t really work with the Otterbox case.

#blogpost

You Better Put A Ring on it…or a Popsocket

fashion, productivity, Technology

Popsockets or iRing: Which accessory should your phone carry.

I’m extremely picky about my accessories. I tend to favor the likes of Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Gucci. My bags and small leather goods are on constant rotation (currently I’m using my LV Palm Springs Mini Backpack, LV toiletry 15, coin purse, key cles & a Chanel card holder). It’s no wonder I’ve added accessories to my accessories. I almost always have either a popsocket or an iRing attached to my phone case. I own 4 popsockets and two iRings with car mounts for both. I know some people are very passionate about team popsocket vs team ring (I kid you not, there is a YouTube channel practically devoted to Popsockets, the woman owns over 100 of them) but I’ve found I enjoy using both (I do favor one…slightly) for different reasons.

The common ground:

– Both offer a way to more easily hold your phone.

– Both provide stand functionality.

– Both have an optional car mount (the iRing come with one included, to get one for a popsocket you’ll have to fork out another $10).

– Both have a collapsible state, regardless, when attached to the back of your device neither will allow your phone to sit completely flat.

– Both use adhesive which will not damage your device but can be removed and replaced close to 100 times.

Materials:

A popsocket is made of plastic (although they just came out with a blinged out crystal version which retails for $50) while the iRing is a combination of plastic and metal.

Why I like the Popsocket:

Popsockets are extremely customizable. I have one with my daughter’s photo on it. If you use two popsockets on either end of your phone, you can wrap your headphones around them so they won’t become tangled in your bag. If you’re concerned about having your phone sit on a flat surface, the popsocket does sit flatter than the iRing.

Why I Prefer the iRing:

The iRing is exactly what it says it is, a ring which adheres to the back of your phone. This means that the iRing makes your phone completely hands free, you can literally flip your phone around and wear it like a giant ring (not recommended). But the reason I find the iRing more convenient is because I have small hands (let’s face it, I have small everything) which makes a popsocket slightly uncomfortable to hold for an extended period of time.

I also have an iPhone 7 Plus, and if I use a thicker or heavier case, a popsocket will collapse when I try to use it as a stand. Because the iRing uses a metal loop, it tends to support the phone.

Neither accessory is a major investment and because they’re reusable, I’d suggest trying both and coming to your own conclusion because, you know, you can never have too many accessories.

Cracked Screens Aren’t Couture

fashion, productivity, Technology

Cracked screens aren’t couture. Your phone is the one accessory which accompanies you everywhere and it’s important that your phone looks well cared for and professional when you pull it out to enter important dates, add a new contact or scan a business card. Just like you, your phone needs to be dressed for the occasion. Here are my top three choices for dressing your iPhone with style and class in every situation.

Ullu

I’m not even sure how I originally heard about ullu, they aren’t sold in retail stores, but these cases are my go to for a slim and classy design. I have a leather snap on and a wally case. The cases are a bit pricey ranging from $75-$400 depending on the style and materials used (ostrich anyone?) but they’re so beautiful. I’d planned on only using these in my smallest handbags because of the slim form factor and lack of rugged protection. The Wally case with its three card slots (and my monogram) was purchased specifically to use in my Louis Vuitton Palm Springs mini backpack (because pulling out a wallet from that bag is annoying) but the case is so gorgeous I use it almost exclusively & am just careful with my phone. No handing it off to the toddler with this case & I’m not sticking a Popsocket to anything this pretty either, so no stand, but it’s worth it. *As a side note, my phone fell off my night stand last night (about a 3 foot drop) & on to a hardwood floor in the Wally case. It’s fine.

Pros:

– Luxury materials

– Light weight

– Slim

– Stylish

– Open ports/easy access

– Monogramming available ($10)

Velvet Caviar

If you’re looking for a trendy, stylish options which offers a modicum of protection, check out Velvet Caviar. These are my gym and exercise cases. They have a slim enough profile but I feel like my phone could actually survive a spill off the treadmill with this case on. The Velvet Caviar cases also work well with Popsockets (which is a great way to prop your phone up on a spin bike or other machine) the site even features some exclusive styles of those handy little stands. Not only is the selection of styles impressive they’re always adding new designs and have descent sales regularly.

Pros:

– Durable

– Easy to wipe down

– Decent protection against falls

– Trendy styles

– Good value for the price

12 South

So I have a thing for wallet cases. I’ve owned 12 South’s original BookBook case since my first iPhone. The case functions as a wallet and a stand but it also has the ability to remove the inner shell and use that as a slim case without the “wallet” portion (on a side note, Ullu offers a similar option with a magnetic backing, something I’m not a fan of, and a flap closure. Again, not a fan). This case does not offer a closure which, I believe, is a selling point. Having a folio style case adds protection to the screen, but it’s one extra step when trying to capture a quick photo. Any type of extra closure, like a flap, I find to be an annoying hindrance. I like this case for traveling. Essentially you’re getting two cases in one so you don’t have to pack an extra case to use in evening bags, it works well for watching movies on a flight and it has the card slots for whichever cards your using, your ID or hotel room keys.

Pros:

– Unique “book” design

– Two cases in one

– Clear plastic ID holder

– Acts as a stand

– Easy to access all ports

– Folio style protects screen in large bags