The best apps

The best apps

Our team at Cup of Jo has some serious old-school tendencies. We may or may not still use day planners. But we’ve each managed to get hooked on a few apps that we now can’t imagine living without. Here are our current must-haves, and we’d love to hear yours…


One of my greatest pleasures is reading magazines (in the bathtub!), so I instantly fell for Texture. Conde Nast, Hearst Magazines, Time Inc. and few other big publishers got together to make a beautiful app that gives you unlimited access to more than 160 different magazines — Vogue, The New Yorker, Bon Appétit, Vanity Fair, Elle Decor, Real Simple, etc. — on your tablet or phone. You can binge-read them Netflix-style for $9.99 a month. Plus, in my case, a waterproof iPad case.

Another media app that’s magic for multitasking is NPR One from National Public Radio. I rarely apply mascara or cook a meal without it on. It handpicks a personalized radio stream just for you based your listening habits and location, and it lets you skip or rewind stories with one tap. My favorite aspect of NPR One (also: it’s free) is that it mixes in a wide range of genres, including news reports, podcast episodes and well-loved stories from their archives you probably haven’t heard before. I’m also really into the authoritative radio voice that says “Here we go!” when you launch the app. Makes me smile every time.


Saving and investing money can be stressful, but the app Acorns makes it easy. It automatically invests your spare change, by syncing with your credit card and rounding up the change from purchases you make (so, a $6.50 burrito would send 50 more cents to Acorns). Your contributions are painless to part with, but can have a crazy huge impact on your long-term savings.

I recently upped my text game by downloading the gif keyboard Riffsy to my phone. When I invited a friend to sneak out with me for a pedicure last weekend I texted Jimmy Fallon dancing. Then, when Alex was out to dinner with a friend, and I was too sleepy to wait up for him, I texted this baby faceplant. It’s so much fun to use and only $1.99 for the best version.


As much as I like to think I can do it all, the truth is, I cannot. So I use Thumbtack, a genius place to find skilled pros to do the stuff you can’t. It matched me with my beloved handyman, a painter, and a strong human to carry furniture up to my fifth-floor walkup. It can also help you find a piano teacher, a math tutor, a personal trainer… Just tell Thumbtack what you’re looking for, and available pros respond immediately with quotes. There are ratings and reviews, like Yelp, so you can feel confident about who you hire.

Think Dirty
Scan the barcode of any beauty or personal care product, and Think Dirty will tell you exactly how bad — or good — the ingredients are. You can even add up how “dirty” your bathroom shelf is, and track your progress as you work to improve it. But be forewarned: You may never look at your favorite lipstick the same way again.


Shipping packages is always a headache; I never have the right materials or the time to schlep to the post office. Enter Shyp, a genius courier service. All you do is snap a picture of your item and request a courier, who arrives within 20 minutes. There is a $5 fee that covers the pickup at your home and whatever packaging materials they’ll need. Shyp then compares prices among carriers, like FedEx, UPS and USPS, to send your shipment with the lowest-cost option. HOW CAN IT BE THAT EASY?!

Dark Sky
The first week I started at Cup of Jo, Caroline and I grabbed lunch at a nearby cafe. Right as we were about to leave, the sprinkle of rain outside morphed into growling sheets of falling water. Caroline casually pulled out her phone to show me Dark Sky, the holy grail of weather apps. “Let’s wait three more minutes and then make a run for it.” Dark Sky predicts, down to the minute, when it will rain or snow at your exact location. I’ve used it every day since, assured I won’t be lifted away by a storm.

What’s your desert island app (if the desert island has wifi)? We want to know!

P.S. 10 great audiobooks and how to figure out what kind of texter you are.

(Illustration by Alessandra Olanow for Cup of Jo.)