Here are some Tech changes I am making in 2016 to help make life a little less stressful and hopefully a lot more fun. If you have any other services you recommend let me know in the comments, I’d be glad to hear about them.
Android — I spent much to much time trying to make a go of Windows Phone. Although I love many things about WP the lack of key apps was just slowly driving my wife and I crazy. I do miss how well Cortana worked with the Bluetooth in my car, but other then that it has been a great switch for us. The camera on our new phone isn’t nearly as good as it was on my Lumia 930 either. The apps seem much more polished, mainly because they have been around for a long time getting constant updates. This change has been great for the both of us.
Gmail/Inbox — I switched to Outlook.com for my email back when I made the switch to WP. At that time is was a welcome change with a nice clean UI. But after I switched back to Android the lack of Gmail integration was making me want to switch back. Then a good friend on Twitter made the same switch back to Gmail which encouraged me to do the same. After switching my calendar and email back to Gmail I’m glad I did. Gmail just works. One slight change to Gmail I made was switching to Google’s new email app and web client “Inbox”. The best way I can describe “Inbox” is Gmail on steroids or maybe email with a more task oriented purpose. Google says “the inbox that works for you”. Check it out for yourself here Inbox
Pebble Time — Unlike most people I wear a watch every day. I’ve been keeping an eye on the smartwatch market for a few years. I was even a kick-starter for the original Pebble watch, but sold it when I got it because I had a WP 🙁 . I really like the MS Band with all of its great fitness features. I like the Google watches for their nice screens and amount of features. But I settled on getting a Pebble Time for my Christmas gift this year. The screen isn’t nearly as beautiful as other watches due to it’s e-ink color display. The price is fairly reasonable. It does most of what I want out of a smartwatch minus a GPS. The main killer feature that won me over was the battery life of about 7 days. Most other watches are only 1–2 days.
YNAB — I’ve been using YNAB (you need a budget) for budgeting for over a year. I had switched form a crazy nice Excel spreadsheet I created years ago. At the time YNAB provided more information and was less time consuming then my spreadsheet. I started using the updated web version of YNAB about a month ago and holy cow is it nice to have it link up to my bank accounts. It imports and categorizes things for me. That information also links up to a nice mobile app to keep me up to date on the go. The mobile app is even GPS enabled to help choose what store I am at to log a transaction more quickly. The new YNAB is a huge time saver and is much nicer to look at.
D-Link WiFi Camera — I tried out a SmartThings hub but after multiple hub resets and false alarms I sent it back and ordered two $40 WiFi cameras from D-Link. They are much cheaper and are doing a great job for us. They provide video of my home and motion sensing for intruder detection. A simple solutions to an important problem.
Spotify — My wife and I are both huge music people. We have hundreds of CDs(what are CDs?) After using Xbox/Groove music for about a year, we made the switch back to Spotify. I find Spotify to be the best music service out there. It has great desktop and mobile apps. The playlists are outstanding. They pretty much have everything I need out of a music service.
NOT A CHANGE (BUT WORTH MENTIONING)
Cricket Wireless — We switched to Cricket Wireless a little over year ago from Verizon and I’m glad I did. They use AT&T towers so the coverage is great for us. The monthly bill is so much lower. We are sharing an account with my sister and our cell bill for 2.5gb data and unlimited talk and text is only $40 a month total for me and my wife. That’s crazy low.
Plan To Eat — We have been using Plan To Eat for a little over a year now and it does a great job of organizing recipes and is a perfect shopping list manager.
Ally Bank — We have been using Ally bank for a few years. It’s an online only bank which means they have better interest rates and almost no fees. The web bill pay is great and they have lots of ATMs and reimburse you for ATM fees outside of their network.
Munzee — This isn’t really a tool but a fun game for you and your family. Me and the kids do it sometimes while my wife is grocery shopping. Its fun and simple to do.
I’m hoping some of these changes will make 2016 one of the best tech filled years yet.