Discover more from Wonder Tools
10 apps I pay for 📲
Wonder Tools for learning, creativity and wellness
I have 745 apps on my phone. I use about 10% regularly. Time for spring cleaning, right? Read on for 10 apps so useful I pay for them.
1. Picture This — Identify Plants
I open this magical app and point it at a plant, flower, or tree. The app gives me its name, a detailed description, info about how to care for it, pictures, answers to common questions, pests, and a place for my own notes as I learn about the natural world. Seek is a free alternative that’s great for animal identification but less comprehensive for plants.
Price: $30/year Download: iOS | Android
2. Duolingo — Learn Languages
My daughters use this app to study Hebrew and French. They practice translating, speaking, typing, and answering questions. The gamification makes progress playful. I aspire to learn more Spanish and Italian, and with the paid family plan, we can all learn.
3. Math Tango — Enjoy Math
This app for kids 5 to 10 turns math into engaging quests and puzzles.
4. Metronaut — Practice music
I love being able to easily access a lifetime’s worth of sheet music from my phone or iPad. The app lets me play my violin with an orchestral or piano accompaniment.
5. Tabs — Play Guitar
I’m a novice at guitar, so I appreciate how this app shows me simplified versions of songs I can strum. Each piece is linked to a professional recording, or I can watch performances from others who use the app. There’s also a built-in tuner.
6. Paper — Draw Digitally
This simple drawing app lets you create digital art without learning complicated tools. It doesn’t have all the features of Procreate, another great drawing app, but it’s easy and fun to use. You can create as many digital notebooks as you want to house your sketches. Price: $12/year Download: iOS
Android alternative: Infinite Painter gets top reviews. Casual doodlers may enjoy playing with nearly 200 brushes. Pros will appreciate advanced tools. Free to try for a week, then a $10 one-time purchase.
7. Google Photos — Backup Photos
I love being able to find any photo in my collection just by typing in a name, place, or even a detail like “snow,” “birthday,” or “school.” I use it to edit and share photos and my wife orders printed family photo books twice a year. Bonus: I like how the app creates special collages juxtaposing pictures of my daughters at various stages of childhood.
8. Wakeout — Stretch Enjoyably
Wakeout makes it easy to exercise in 2-minute spurts at your desk. There are special hand and eye exercises useful for those of us who type a lot or stare at screens all day. A "relief" section has exercises for relieving back, shoulder, and neck pain.
9. Headspace — Relax Mindfully
I listen to this app's wind-down meditations, which can be customized to last anywhere from two to 20 minutes, to relax before bed. Since the early days of the pandemic, I've found its meditations helpful for managing anxiety, and I've come to rely on the app's calming music to help me stay focused at work.
10. Day One — Journal Comfortably
Apple’s planning a new journal app, but Day One remains a great way to keep a diary. I like being able to add audio entries and photos and videos. I can email in a message I want to save in my journal. Every couple of years, I order a printed book version to reflect on the passage of time. My prior post about Day One suggests ways to jumpstart your own journal.