In today's day and age, we're not just looking for technology to entertain us, we're looking to it for much more. By saving us time and money, technology can enhance our lives by giving us more time to do the things we love. So whether you're planning a trip and need a quick way to keep organized or you're out shopping and you want to make sure you're always getting the best deal, check out these top ten tech tools that were built to help.
If you're looking for a website to help you manage your money, check out Mint.com. For free, Mint will keep track of your finances including your spending, budget, and investments. They'll also help you set goals to save you money. If you're comfortable with storing your encrypted account information in Mint.com's secured servers, use Mint to alert you of upcoming bills that will soon be due, automatically balance your account, and create pie charts of your spending by category. The site is nicely designed, making managing your money a pleasant experience.
If you travel a lot for vacation or business, use TripIt to keep you organized even before you step on a plane. TripIt's main functionality is to create customized travel itineraries from confirmation emails by airlines, hotels or travel agents. As a nice bonus, they'll even include maps, directions and weather. Recently, TripIt Pro was released which tracks any pro member's flight itinerary so that you are notified of a price drop via email or text message. This will save you money by showing you if you're eligible for an airline credit or voucher. Armed with this information, you can then contact the airline to obtain your credit. With TripIt Pro, you'll also get alerts via your phone about flight delays, cancellations and gate changes.
If you need help coming up with ideas for your vacation, check out Wanderfly. By simply selecting a few options - which city you're departing from, your time frame and budget, Wanderfly will automatically find the best deals, supplying you with a curated list of over 1,500 destinations. As a personalized recommendation engine, it helps you discover new and exciting experiences, based on not only on your budget but your interests. By partnering with over 22 different content providers such as Expedia, Yelp, Foursquare, and Lonely Planet, Wanderfly hopes to be the first place you'll go to when you're planning your next vacation.
While you probably already know about Google Goggles, you may not have heard about Google Shopper. A free Android app, Google Shopper helps you check prices on almost anything you see. Take pictures of books, CDs and DVD, perform a bar-code scan or type in or say the name of a product to quickly bring up a list of prices. They'll even help you find local stores who carry the product which you can easily then call or get directions to. Next time you're not quite sure whether you're getting the best deal, try out this app.
By negotiating great deals for you, Groupon helps you save money and encourages you to explore your city. Activated when a minimum number of people buy, these deals can range from spa treatments to meals at restaurants. You only have a a certain amount of time before the offer expires, which makes you want to grab these deals before they're gone. Called a social-coupon site, Groupon has exploded since it first started back in November 2008, with Forbes calling it the fastest growing company ever. Sign up for their email newsletter to get daily deals sent straight to your inbox. (You can also check out Livingsocial.com and Buywithme.com for a similar experience.)
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Dragon Dictation is an easy-to-use voice recognition app that's perfect for anyone on the go. Speak into it and you can instantly see your text or email messages. All you have to do is press the record button and start talking. After that, you load an onscreen keyboard to correct any errors. If you're on Facebook and Twitter, dictate your status updates and then send them all with a push of a button. This app is also great for sending notes and reminders to yourself.
Evernote is the must-have app for anyone who has a million things running through their head at any given time. It was the Winner of the Best Mobile App Award from TechCrunch, Mashable and the Webbys because, as they state, it helps you to "remember anything and everything that happens in your life." With Evernote you can take text, photo or audio notes. More than anything, it helps you keep track of new ideas or reminders. By synching up to your computer, Evernote makes it easy for you to access your notes on either your phone or computer.
Do you use any of these tools? If so, which of them do you find most useful?