My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Apps I Use

When Smartphones first came out I thought.. what do I need with a smartphone? People who know me know that I hate to talk on the phone. Hate it. If you need me, text me. You'll get an answer 99% of the time. Call me and... if I know who it is I might answer. I mean, I always answer when Marvin calls (that's a rare thing, he better appreciate it!). But my family mostly just sends me a text. SO... I didn't think there was any need to do more than absolutely necessary with my phone. For awhile I didn't even have a cellphone and people would just communicate with me via Facebook or my mom's phone. That became sort of inconvenient and my parents got me a very basic phone. But then... the grandbabies started coming and I knew I was going to want to be able to video chat with them so I took the smartphone plunge. I got the most basic smartphone with the smallest amount of storage possible because I had no concept of what I would do with it. It didn't take long for me to figure out I wanted MORE MORE MORE on my phone. There's literally an app for everything and soon my phone usage far outweighed my laptop usage. Once I upgraded to a phone with a lot of space on it, there was no turning back. You literally never see me without my phone. It's another appendage. I sleep with it right beside me. If the battery gets below 40% I get nervous. I use my phone constantly and almost always in place of my laptop. In fact, there are only two things that I absolutely have to use my laptop for - blogging and Everything else I do on my phone.

So... I thought it might be fun to share with you the apps I use. I'd love for you to share your favorite apps with me (because I need MORE things to do with my phone!).

First and foremost in my phone usage are the basics - communication/contact with the outside world. I talk on the phone a lot more than I used to becasue Marvin and I talk twenty-eleven times a day. I also text back and forth with my kids, my sisters-in-law, Cosy's mama, Austin's girlfriend... and of course, Marvin. I keep in touch with my real life and cyber friends via Facebook and Instagram. If I had to pick only one app to use ever, it would be Instagram. I am addicted to Insta-Stories. I follow a lot of real life and cyber friends and I follow a lot of celebrities and other notable people. I get most of my news via Instagram. I love Instagram because it is more of what I love about Facebook (pictures) and less of the argumentative political bs. Not that those things aren't on Instagram... it's just in a smaller, less obtrusive manner.

I use FaceTime with Oliver and get to "see" him a couple of times a week. He goes about his business, bouncing on the furniture, playing, dancing around, etc, but he talks to me while he does it. Usually we talk in the evening while his mama is having time to herself and Cody is watching Oliver before bath and bedtime. Cosy and I use the video tool in Facebook Messenger to videochat with Marvin. He tried to talk to her on the phone last week and she got upset that she couldn't see him so he called right back in videochat. My sister-in-law in NYC is really good about posting pictures and videos of my nephew Finn to a family cloud so we can all see Finn living his best life. I use Snapchat very rarely and almost exclusively with Marvin. I just prefer Instagram.

In sort of a sub-topic, I take a lot of photos that I like to share by text, Instagram, Facebook, in the family photo groups for Oliver and Cosette and on my blog. I use my basic iPhone functions to edit most of my photos but I also like to use the Prisma app to get special effects for my photos. I use an app called TouchNote to create postcards to send via snailmail to people like my grandmother. Touchnote prints your photo on a postcard with the message and address that you provide. They provide the postage and mail it to your desired location at the cost of about $2 per postcard. To me, that's a great bargain. I also enjoy using the Bitmoji app to create emojis of myself that I use in texts (mostly to Marvin).

Since Trump was elected and the United States became such an angry, divisive place, I have almost completely stopped watching or reading the news. I just can't stand it. I can't handle all the spin and fake news and things that are taken out of context to present one political stance over another. Instead of following any American news sources, I go to the Daily Mail app from the UK. It's maybe two steps removed from the National Enquirer. It's a lot of celebrity news and it's often poorly written and I DON'T CARE. It's news-lite for me. I get the basic gist of what's happening in the world plus lots of news on the Royal Family and if there's ever a news topic that I feel like I need to get more information on, I will investigate via more serious, reputable news sources. For the most part though, the Daily Mail is all I need.

I have been working on learning Italian since the beginning of 2016. I really have no reasonable intention of traveling to Italy... I mean, if someone offers me a trip, I wouldn't turn it down but it's way beyond any budgetary possibility for me currently. It would be physically difficult for me but... it's just always been a place that interests me. Learning Italian is my way of keeping my brain from turning to mush. I'm not GREAT at it but I am able to follow a few Italian speaking Instagram accounts and understand most of what they're saying. I use the Google Translate app to help with words or phrases that I'm not sure about.

I've also started learning Spanish because Oliver is learning Spanish since his mama's family is Mexican. Since Oliver is learning Spanish at the same time he's learning English, he doesn't really differentiate between languages. In other words... he is as likely to say something in Spanish as he is English so Nana needs to understand a little Spanish. I primarily use the Duolingo app for my language learning. It's easy and user friendly and free (unless you want to use the premium program but I don't.) I also use the Memrise app for this and it is also user friendly and honestly... it is much more in depth than Duolingo. I had to get about six months into Italian before I was able to be consistent with the Memrise app but... they're both free and fun to use.

In the same category as "keeping my brain from turning to mush", I also use the Lumosity app. It gives you three different games to play each day that help with your memory, agility, problem solving, etc. Lumosity games can be hard but I guess that's sort of the point. My memory is really, really poor and I feel like Lumosity is helping improve it... or at least keeping it from getting worse. Marvin and I play a trivia game that I have mentioned here before - HQ. They have one or two live challenges every day where you answer questions to win a share of the jackpot for that particular game. Usually it's 12 questions and usually the jackpot is $5000 but it can be much higher and they sometimes ask fewer questions. On Fridays you are able to see your friends' answers - which helps a lot if you have smart friends. For many games Marvin and I play together either in person or over the phone. If you try the HQ app, sign up with my username, heathergant and I will get an extra life to use in a game. I have won the game twice for a grand total of $1.16 in winnings. Marvin has won three times and has gotten bigger prizes. I have a friend who has won over $300. So it can vary. I don't play for the winnings as much as I play for the fun of it and to challenge myself.

I also entertain myself by playing a few games that are just for fun. My favorites at the moment are Gardenscapes, Fishdom and Farm Heroes Saga. There is a Sudoku app that I play from time to time but I've gotten such a high score on it that it's practically impossible for me to beat it now... which is frustrating. I have an app called Talking Tom on my phone for Cosy. It's a cat that you can punch, tickle, feed... and he repeats what you say. She is really adept at navigating my phone and finding what she wants to play.

Cosy also really enjoys watching YouTube videos. Her current favorites are toy opening videos. She sometimes watches via the YouTube app on my phone. I also use the YouTube app via chromecast on Marvin's tv. When he's at work I watch YouTube videos.

Marvin and I play the Streak game on the ESPN Fantasy app. You pick who you think will win in various sporting events. Today you got to pick if the winner of the Coney Island Hot Dog eating contest would eat more than 70 hot dogs or not. I picked correctly. The next event I picked was the baseball game between Tampa Bay and Miami. Usually I'm clueless and it's just a blind guess but it's fun to compete with Marvin on it.

An app that is really helpful during the time I spend with Marvin is Shazam. You click a button and it will identify the song you're hearing and for most songs will give you the lyrics. This helps me because Marvin listens to a lot of music that I don't know... or don't know well enough to sing along to. I look up the song, sing along with the lyrics and it makes car-aoke a lot more fun!

I use other things like the Waze app to get directions (like a GPS). It also will let you know about traffic conditions along your route, things like if there is an accident or construction OR if perhaps you need to be careful about obeying the speed limit (wink,wink). I use the Amazon app for purchases and... I use the Google app to google/fact check/expand my knowledge on things.

I hope you enjoyed this summary of the apps I use... I'd love to hear what you're using. Comment below or on my blog link on Facebook. Hope you're having a fabulous Fourth. Marvin is napping / watching baseball. I'm about to join him in one or more of those activities. Love and hugs, y'all!