A handful of handy apps

Apps on screen

It has been a while since I’ve shared details of some of the apps I use on my phone regularly. The previous piece I wrote about my mobile apps can be found here.

Those are still relevant, even two years later, with the exception of GPX Master which appears to have fallen off the update wagon.

No matter, it is 2018 and there are other apps to explore, so join me for a wander through the online store appropriate to your mobile operating system.


With the increase in privacy awareness and the rise in hacking, I’m going to start things off with a password manager. We’ve all made the mistake of using one password (or one or two passwords) for everything from our banking to our social media and email accounts. This is a bad idea but remembering those two hundred and one and 90 passwords – or even which one should be used where – is a pain we don’t need. So, I use LastPass.

You can add all your existing sites and it will generate random passwords for you – you can also launch those sites from the app and some will allow you to automatically change the password from LastPass as well.

You can log in via the app on your phone, download the app to your computer or simply log in via a web browser to access those hard-to-remember passwords from one secure location.

It isn’t free, but at US$12 per year it is good value – and you only need to remember one password to access all of your stored passwords. Used in conjunction with the Authenticator (Apple or Android) app I mentioned in the original article for two-factor authentication, your security just got a lot better.


Moving on to communications with others. You’re a member of a WhatsApp group, right? Drives you mad with all those messages. You want to leave, but you can’t because information that is important to you is made available – if you can sift through messages and content that is utterly irrelevant. Enter Telegram. Here you can create a channel which allows you to broadcast messages on a “one to many” basis. No more having to block or ban or plead that irrelevant messages not make it onto the channel, the person who creates the channel (and their admin) can post only what is relevant – peace returns.

There are many more features to the app which are common to messaging platforms, but this is a stand-out feature.


Last time I covered a navigation app, it was the very popular Waze system which allows real-time interaction between users. If you are travelling a route and something happens ahead of you, those road-users posting an alert will inform you of the problem. Easier to plan for it – or find an alternate route.

Maps.me is for mobile users with limited data. It allows you to download sections of map for countries around the world so you don’t have to be online at all to get where you want to go. You will lose traffic information using it off-line, but you’ll be able to find all the places you need without worrying about roaming charges or getting a local sim-card.

Simply Gas

Fuel prices are burdensome. No-one looks forward to their visit to the filling station, but it is necessary for most commuters. An easy way to track your fuel consumption is with the Simply Gas app. A quick search on the Apple app store will bring it up among your search results (the Android version is linked above). It allows you to enter your mileage, the cost (no choice of changing the currency symbol, but that is unimportant) and it captures the date. This allows you to track your fuel consumption and how much you are spending every month on fuel. Handy and simple.

Magic Hour

My final app for this list is iPhone specific, but I’m sure the resourceful Android users out there will find something similar. A simple app, more useful to my photographer friends. It tells you when “magic hour” is going to happen – what time of day you are going to get the nicest light for shooting outdoors. Recently a “moon watch” section was added, but the app has retained its very simple and clear layout. A great addition to your photographic tools.

That’s it for my list of five handy apps to keep on your phone. If you can muscle them into the remaining space between your six Candy Crush versions and Angry Birds (is anyone still playing that?), with WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Messenger and Twitter all fighting for their share then I’m sure you can put them to good use.

Author: Morné Condon

Automotive journalist in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, following new models, old cars, car clubs and motorsport. My interests are not restricted to the automotive environment, although this is where I am mostly to be found.

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