Culture

SPICY Tech Round-Up

It’s a great big world out there and an even BIGGER app store. I’m here to help you navigate the wild world of tech: from apps, smart devices, AI and everything in between. Tech doesn’t have to be toxic — here are some of the best apps for turning your screen addiction into tools for self-care and productivity. And getting the hell off Instagram for ten minutes.

CO-STAR
Okay, this is what we’ve all been waiting for. Seriously. It’s a social network that is completely dedicated to astrology. When you sign up, you input your birth date, time, and location — and that’s pretty much it. You don’t have to subscribe to them and you don’t even have to link to Facebook (GASP!) if you don’t want to — a huge relief for the many of us who are concerned about the security of our information.

From here, the app will give you your birth chart in full detail. This means you’ll finally understand what your ‘Leo rising’ actually implies. It’s also a social network (if you want it to be!) but not overbearingly so. You can add friends and check your compatibility, either with fun little smiley faces or more in-depth descriptions of how each of your planets matches up.

It’s also fairly low maintenance and not an app you’re going to spend hours on, which is refreshing. You can read a daily horoscope, but they’re usually never more than three sentences long. There’s also no news feed or inbox, so you’ll be in and out without any psychological warfare. Well, unless you and your crush’s ‘Intellect & Communication’ turns out to be a little more frowny face than you anticipated.

CLARITY MONEY
I’ve tried hella budgeting apps, and I’ve hated all of them. There’s always an essential feature that seems to be missing that renders the app more useless and anxiety-inducing than anything else. Enter: Clarity. The app offers beautiful, clean UX, algorithms that are actually useful, and makes handling your finances a little less daunting.

It shows you your transactions, income per month (so far), countdown until your next paycheck (my personal favorite) and pie charts of which categories your money is going into along with multiple savings options. It lets you see how much money you spent at specific retailers (word to the wise, don’t look at ‘Amazon’ for ‘entire year’ unless you want to wince the night away) and lets you view how many subscriptions you have with an option to cancel them right there and then. One of my favorite integrations of Clarity has a lot to do with another app, which is…

ACORNS
I’m not saying all millennials are bad at finance, but I am saying that in most circles, I seem to be the authority on Bitcoin and that’s a problem. Acorns is the perfect app for people who are interested in investing but are also like “What is investing, again?” You can set up monthly/weekly/what-have-you deposits into your Acorns account, where they’ll fix you up with a portfolio that works for you depending on how aggressively you want to play the market, your income, occupation, etc. They also have this thing called ‘round-ups’ which is my favorite feature of the whole darn thing. Here’s how it goes: you buy stuff on your credit/debit cards, there’s a bunch of spare change on every purchase you make, they put it into your account for you. Let’s say you go out and buy a latte for $4.77. The extra 23 cents you’d need to be at $5 automatically goes into your stocks, without you really even noticing it. I was surprised at just how quickly I got to $17 from, well, pennies (and made $15 off that $17 – amen).

You can also link it up to your Clarity account so you can view your profits from your Acorns account along with the rest of your finances. We love flawless integration!

Quick note: this isn’t for cryptocurrency, it’s just for old-school stocks and bonds and whatnot. If you’re interested in crypto, I’d recommend checking out Coinbase.

HQ
I know. Scott Rogowsky might be top ten most annoying men in existence, but aren’t you just a little upset every time it’s that guy who looks like Lance Bass instead?

Taking a few steps back: if you haven’t heard of HQ, it’s very futuristic and weird and makes you realize just how technologically-minded the world is today. It’s also the first “live” thing that doesn’t make my head want to explode – and many others say the same. It’s a live trivia app that has two games a day, once at 3 PM and again at 9 PM (EST). Your host (probably the aforementioned Rogowsky) talks at length, and I mean at LENGTH, and then finally introduces himself with 9,000 monikers (my personal favorite being the Trap Trebek) before you start round one. You have about 5 seconds to answer questions, rendering them un-Googleable, with three multiple choice options per round. If you answer all 12 questions correctly, you’ll split a cash prize with all the other winners. These range anywhere from $1,000 to $18,000, so it may or may not turn out to be a nice chunk of change.

NYTIMES CROSSWORD
After a dejecting HQ experience where I get eliminated in the third round, I like to work my brain with an even more dejecting experience: the New York Times daily crossword. This is notoriously the hardest crossword but also regarded as the best one out there. There are a couple different options depending on your level of verbal finesse: mini, midi, and daily crossword (let’s call it BIG BOY). These levels rate not only the size of the puzzle but the difficulty of it as well. When you’re a member, you have access to the entire archive of crosswords, too! It’s a good thing to do if you’re not trying to commit to a book, but also feel your brain will implode if you refresh your Instagram feed one more time. You feel me?

THE MET APP
This is one of my favorites to look through because it’s just so high quality! The Met is definitely a problematic fav right now, because they’re choosing to start charging out-of-staters for admission, but this app helps alleviate a bit of that. It actually allows anyone, anywhere to access a bunch of pieces digitally with just about the same amount of information you’d find along with them at the museum itself. You can look through their pre-compiled collections or search the entire collection (which currently has 452,423 records). It’s perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about art or simply wants to scroll through some pretty pictures. Their website also has a section called Heilbrunn’s Timeline of Art History, which makes art history accessible and interesting by pairing essays with selected defining works. Hell yeah.

Image courtesy of Ally Zhao