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January 3, 2013

Popular New Year’s resolutions—and the Windows Phone apps to make them stick

Happy 2013! Broken any New Year’s resolutions yet? I have: this column’s already two days late.

Making annual vows is a time-honored tradition. So is breaking them. To succeed, most of us need all the help we can get. So I thought it would be fun to put together a list of popular New Year’s resolutions—as illustrated by these cats—and pair them with Windows Phone apps that I think can help you achieve success. You’ll find more great ideas in the just-published New Year’s Checklist app collection.

What vows did you make (or already break) this year?


Spend more time with friends and family: Skype


Part of my family’s in Japan, the rest are scattered around the U.S. Maintaining a sense of closeness is—to put it mildly—a challenge. The Skype app on my Lumia 920 helps bridge the distance, letting me see their faces or send instant messages whenever the mood strikes. When recipients also have Skype, it’s all free, making this New Year’s vow that much easier to keep. More resolution helpers: What’s App, Kik Messenger

Lose weight: MyFitnessPal


Consumer Reports subscribers recently singled out this calorie tracking app as one of their favorite weapons in the fight against flab. And it’s not hard to see why. Let’s face it: tracking calories isn’t nearly as much fun as consuming them. But MyFitnessPal, with its vast database of foods, makes it relatively easy to keep a close eye on how much you’re eating—which many weight-loss gurus agree is crucial if your serious about shedding pounds. More resolution helpers: Livescape

Exercise more: Endomondo Sports Tracker

Endomondo Sports Tracker

One of the oldest GPS-based exercise apps is still one of the most popular (it hit 10 million users earlier this year) and best around. The Endomondo Sports Tracker app (and website) keep a record of how far and fast you walk, run, or cycle—milestones you can then share with family and friends for a little virtual encouragement. More resolution helpers: Runtastic, Gym PocketGuide

Learn something new: Khan Academy

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I was never much of a student when I was young. Now I can’t absorb new facts fast enough. Like millions of others, my free education frequently comes courtesy of the non-profit Khan Academy. Since 2006 the organization—whose fans include the likes of Bill Gates—has created over 3000 videos on subjects ranging from math and physics to finance and history. This app puts them at your fingertips, so any spare moment can become a teachable one. More resolution helpers: eHow, TED. Finally, check out this list of Best news apps for 2013.

Save more money: Budget Buddy

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If avoiding your own personal fiscal cliff is high on your list of priorities for 2013, then download this powerful Windows Phone expense tracker and budget manager. As with calories, tracking the fate of every penny that passes through your hands is tricky business. Budget Buddy makes it easier to follow the money by snapping pictures of your receipts right at the register. Pretty charts and graphs then can vividly illustrate where your paycheck goes. More resolution helpers: BillMinder

Find a new job: Job Search



There are a lot of job search engines out there, but is one of the best. Their official Windows Phone app lets you search for new positions, post a resume, and see what’s new since your last sweep three minutes ago—and do it all discreetly during meetings so your current employer is none the wiser. More resolution helpers: LinkedIn, getHired