The promise of technology is that it will help us save time and hassle while improving our lives. But too often for those of us who didn't grow up downloading, streaming and LOL-ing, tech ends up being an exercise in patience, perseverance and, at times, anger management. The good news? We're here to help.
On the following pages are gadgets and apps we've tested and selected —to help smooth out the wrinkles in your daily life, helping you live smarter — one touch, click or command at a time.
Make Life Easier
1. The Tile tracker
Attach the wireless Tile to your wallet or keys, install the app on your phone, and if the wallet or keys are lost, use the app and the Tile will beep. Can't find your phone? The Tile can make your phone beep, too (thetileapp.com; $25).
2. EcoBee 3 Wi-Fi Thermostat
This smart thermostat senses when someone is in the room and adjusts the temperature to make it comfortable. When no one is around, the device reduces the heating or cooling, so it pays for itself (ecobee.com; $249).
3. Amazon Echo
Ask the Echo — or Alexa, as she likes to be called — for the weather, a sports score or the name of a favorite song and then sit back and wait for her to answer. She will even give you a wake-up call (amazon.com; $180).
4. iRobot Roomba 650
The Roomba 650 saves your back and even allows you to schedule cleaning times so it can work while you're out of the house. iRobot has more expensive models, but this one suited us just fine (irobot.com; pricing starts at $400).
Manage Your Money Simply
Need to keep an eye on all your accounts from one place while you're on the go? Use Mint.com's app, from the makers of Quicken. It is free, safely links to all your financial accounts and provides a breakdown of your spending, for better budgeting (mint.com; free).
6. Level Money
A streamlined budgeting app, Level Money bills itself as a financial GPS, keeping your budget on the right path. It tells you how much you've spent this week and how much you have left to spend. It also allows you to track expenses by item (coffee, gas, lunches out, etc.). All your account information is locked down with the same 128-bit encryption used by banks (levelmoney.com; free).
7. The Krazy Coupon Lady
Create, and Save, Memories
8. Olloclip 4-in-1 photo lens
Clip this mobile lens onto your iPhone or Samsung Galaxy to shoot wide angles and close-ups (olloclip.com; $80 for an iPhone 6 lens; $70 for a Samsung Galaxy S4 or S5 lens).
9. Pigeon digital photo frame
Your family and friends can send photos directly to this digital frame from their smartphones. All you have to do is plug in the frame and enjoy the slideshow. Updated photos can be added and seen instantly (pigeon frame.com; $129).
10. SNAP! Pro