7 ways to better your life with iOS apps

Life is like a box of choco—okay, forget the cheesy stuff. Life can stink, alright? Fortunately, there’s more than a few great apps for the iPhone and iPad (and iPod Touch) that help with the little things. Here’s a sampling of solutions to some common issues we often face.

1. Eating in.

If you aren’t a good cook, you may be eating out lots, which ain’t cheap. Learning to cook is easy with an iOS device by your side. Beginners can get started with How to Cook Everything ($5 for iPhone, $10 for iPad), written by Mark Bittman of the New York Times. If you’re feeling advanced, dive into dedicated recipe apps like MacGourmet ($3 iPhone; $5 iPad) and YummySoup. And don’t forget to pick up a FridgePad to keep your iPad safe but accessible while working your magic in the kitchen.

2. Eating out.

Hate tip number one? For those who like eating out regularly, there’s lots of apps that help you discover new joints—and best of all, most are free. Try UrbanSpoon, Poynt, or BonAppie to locate restaurants by area, cuisine, price, and more. Another trick to finding your favourite restaurants on Twitter and checking out who they follow. Often, this gives you an instant pulse on the local dining scene, tapping into chefs and food bloggers who will light the fire under your next great adventure.

3. Managing expenses.

Many Canadians have some serious debt problems. It seems increasingly difficult to get to the end of the month before one gets to the end of the money. To help with this, there are apps. BillMinder ($2 for iPhone, $5 for iPad) is great for mapping out expenses, devising a sortable calendar, syncing via the cloud, and notifying you of upcoming due dates. There’s also Debt Payoff Pro for $1 which helps tackle debt payments efficiently, Ace Budget for $2 that lets you know if red or black ink is winning, and Pennies for $3 to let you know if your money tank is full or running on empty.

4. Reducing stress.

Freaking out that tip number three isn’t enough to save your butt? De-stress with Stress Free, a $2 iPhone app that offers a six-week interactive course which teaches you Dr. Deepak Chopra’s six keys to stress reduction. If you need a simple calming, Naturespace is free and offers three-dimensional audio soundscapes ideal for meditation and relaxation. FitMind Audio Stress Release is a $1 iPhone app containing binarual sound patterns designed to calm your state of mind. 

5. Reducing anger.

Pissed that tip number four failed you?

Chill out with Shrinky, a Muppet-like “doctor” who talks you through instructions on how to manage your anger. His Cheap Chill app is $1, while the more thorough Anger Remedy app is $3, as is the Anxiety edition.  Shrinky will ask you to “follow along with what I’m saying as well as you can” before whisking you through a series of questions. The program tailors itself to your symptoms and was created by psychotherapist Glenn Berger, who boasts a Ph.D.

6. Forming good habits.

Reptition is the key to forming good happens. Daily Deeds ($1 for the iPhone) is a good way to start. The app keeps a badge on its icon until you’ve completed all your good habit-forming deeds for the day. It can handle multiple deeds but you’ll probably want to take it slow in the beginning and focus on one at a time. Unless focusing on more than one thing at a time is the habit you want to form.

7. Entertaining and educating kids.

If you don’t want to entertain your little one by letting them steal cars and run from cops or watch real housewives duke it out all day (what kind of parent are you, anyway?), iOS devices offer plenty of affordable solutions, many of which happen to stimulate the mind (positively) too. DrawCast is a favourite because it is both free and highly entertaining. Animation Studio for $1 enables artists to bring their work to life, while Motion Math ($1, iPhone; $3, iPad) and Grammar Jammer blend game-like elements with education. Future J.K Rowlings will squeeze a lot of value from apps like Story Patch ($3, iPhone) wherein kids can craft their own books.