Thing 21: Free-for-all

For Thing 21, we get to choose our favorite apps to talk about. I’ve already found ways to talk about most of my favorite apps already (see my reviews of Pocket, Feedly, Evernote, Zombies, Run!, and TwoDots). However, I have a personal finance app and a weather app that I use regularly and haven’t mentioned.


It took me years to join Mint, so I can definitely appreciate if anyone feels uncomfortable with the app. Mint was created by Intuit, the company behind Quicken and TurboTax. You connect all your financial accounts with Mint (without using your actual account numbers). The app automatically tracks your spending and saving habits. You can set a monthly budget and it will tell you when you are about to go over budget in a category. It creates different ways to visualize your spending habits or helps you set up savings plans. It sends you alerts about any unusual account activity. However, what I like most about the app is actually a simple feature: it allows me to see the current status of all my accounts in one place.

The app is free, so how do they make their money? Referrals. Mint will recommend services you might be interested in based on your financial information in Mint, and they get money for some (but not all) of these referrals.

However, I’m feeling the need to put a disclaimer here. While Mint has worked for me, I am not a financial advisor or anyone that should be recommending financial products at all (a shocker, I know). As with any financial decision, you should research this on your own and talk to any professionals you already consult.

Due to the sticky nature of finances and account security, I wouldn’t feel comfortable recommending just this app to a library patron as a library worker. However, I think it is good to know services like Mint exist, so we can help them find trustworthy information to help them make their own decisions.

A few more articles about Mint:

Dark Sky

screenshot of Dark Sky app: 69 degrees out and rising, heavy rain starting in 9 minutes

Dark Sky is a weather app I discovered a few months ago. This is an app designed for very short-term forecast. So, maybe you are thinking about going outside for a walk, but it is a little cloudy. This app will use your GPS and tell you if it is going to rain at all in the next hour and when. So, in the screenshot above, I was walking home from work and saw it was supposed to rain in 9 minutes. I tried to make it (it usually takes 12-15 minutes), but heavy rain did start about 9 minutes later.

The app will also say things like “light rain stopping in 12 minutes and resuming 20 minutes later.” I’ve found it to be accurate quite often. It seems to be less accurate with weather that switches back and forth between a  light drizzle and nothing.

The app also has a 24-hour forecast (see below), a more general weekly forecast, and a precipitation/temperature map.

Screenshot of daily forecast on Dark Sky app


There are two downsides I see with Dark Sky: it is not free (currently $3.99 in the App Store) and only runs on iOS. Unfortunately, they are not actively working on a version for other systems right now either. However, if you or a library patron enjoy tracking the weather, worry about the weather, or just often need to know whether it’s about to rain, Dark Sky might be an app to check out!


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