Hack junkmail, take power naps, and ring doorbells: there's an app for that

March 27 |
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Photo by MrDerk. Used under Creative Commons license.
Smartphone users! Have you availed yourself of any technologies to hack your house? There are iPhone and Android apps available which can control your thermostat or help you decorate a room or even just make grocery lists you can sync between multiple phones. I love the new Reminders feature on iOS 5; it's set to remind me to turn on the lights in my makeshift nursery, and off again 12 hours later, every day through planting time.

So there are lots of ways to hack your house with your smartphone, and here's a look at three of them: one zaps junk mail, one programs power naps, and one is a magical doorbell.

PaperKarma ends junkmail

I get way more junkmail than actual mail, and it's so frustrating! I'm using PaperKarma: Just snap a photo of a piece of junkmail and send it to PaperKarma, and the app removes you from the appropriate list. It's like a junkmail opt-out automator.

Get it: FREE for a limited time! Via Unconsumption.

Make the most of your sleep with Sleep Machine

A two-in-one white noise machine and nap-guide, Sleep Machine has a rep as a best-in-class of sleep apps — it does the job of $5.99 apps, but at just $1.99.

Get it: $1.99 on iTunes. Via Lifehacker.

Say "I'm here" with Pocket Doorbell

Pocket Doorbell is my favorite. If you think it's too much work to type the message "i'm here," when you get to a friends' place, just set up your pocket doorbell, and it'll do it for you. It keeps a list of friends you visit often, and will text or call them when you ring their doorbell.

Get it: $.99 on iTunes. Via Swiss Miss.

What apps do you use to help you manage YOUR house?

  1. PaperKarma is my favorite app! In two weeks it has gotten me out of 12 pieces of junk mail without me having to wade through to find the opt-out information. Love it! Now I'll have to try that power napping app…

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    • HOMETOWN PRIDE for the PaperKarma folks. I used to work with one of the developers at a start-up here in Seattle. GO PAPERKARMA!

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  2. A+ recommendations! At my 5-adult, all-iphone household, we make liberal use of the speaker dock and the Pandora app for awesome music all the time.

    Also, Monterrey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch app reminds us what seafood is in season and most sustainable in our area.

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  3. Can anyone suggest some Android apps for those of us without iPhones? I'm excited about PaperKarma but I would love other make-your-life-easier apps (I literally only have games and just downloaded a grocery list app last night that seems useful (it can sync with my husband! yay!).

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    • I'm an Android person, so here's my house-related apps:

      – Astrid Tasks. I'm horrid at remembering to do periodic chores, so I put them as recurring tasks in Astrid. Magic!
      – OurGroceries. It's a shopping list app at its core, but I also use it for packing lists for trips. (I have a "recipe" for the things we always need to remember but often forget, like contact lens solution or medications…)
      – Evernote. My partner and I both use it for our favorite recipes. It's brilliant.
      – RunKeeper. I'm a Fitocracy addict, and they don't have their own app yet (their iPhone one is launching soon, so I hope the Android one is not too far) but RunKeeper syncs to Fitocracy, so!

      As a bonus, I believe these are all available on iPhone, too!

      (As an aside – PaperKarma and Pocket Doorbell both seem to be dual-platform apps as well!)

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      • Thank you! I am definitely going to check out Astrid Tasks- that sounds like something I could use!

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