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Smart Living | Lifestyle

Lifestyle | 01 Jun 2021

Get Summer 2021 off to a ‘techtastic’ start with these ingenious apps

After months cooped up in our homes due to lockdowns, most of us are ready to get out there and start having some fun this summer. Here are some digital goodies to help you make the most of it.

There are so many ways we can use mobile apps and mobile websites to take advantage of our newfound freedom. And if you have 5G, you can enjoy them at blistering speed!

Here’s our pick of the best – and related tech – to make summer 2021 your best yet.

Spice up your social life

Not being able to visit a restaurant for months has made many of us appreciate just how much we enjoy the decadence of eating out.

But a bad meal is the opposite of indulgent. So make sure your summer dining experiences are divine, not disappointing, by using apps such as TripAdvisor and OpenTable to check recent reviews before you book.

Whether you’re at home or away, you can also use apps to find out what’s going on in your area, from stadium shows to intimate gigs, specialist markets, and even pottery workshops.

Eventbrite is a good place to start; just enter your location and it will let you explore the options and book a ticket for those that appeal.

Others worth a look include Songkick, for pre-sale tickets to the hottest concerts, and Ticketmaster, for a wide range of events including rugby matches, gymnastics competitions, and musicals.

Make the most of your down time

When the sun is shining, Britain’s parks and countryside can be the perfect place to while away lazy summer days. When the heavens open, not so much.

So make sure the infamous UK weather doesn’t rain on your parade this summer by checking the forecast with a finely tuned weather app.

Ones to consider include The Weather Channel, which offers hourly and daily forecasts, and Weather Underground, which offers smart forecasts and air quality and temperature readings.

They are free to download, and are available on both iOS and Android.

Whatever the weather’s doing, you can also use the Kindle E-reader app to access millions of books, magazines, and audiobooks – whether you’re lying on a sun lounger or snuggled up on your sofa.

And to set the mood for anything from a solitary pottering session to coffee and cake with a friend, simply create a playlist on Spotify, LiveXLive or Soundcloud. Vodafone UK Pay Monthly mobile customers can add Spotify Premium to their plan when upgrading to or buying a qualifying plan.

Plan your summer holiday

With international travel now back on the agenda – to 12 ‘green’ destinations, such as Portugal at the time of publication, that you can visit without having to quarantine on return – we can finally start planning overseas trips once again.

Streamline the process with one-stop travel apps such as Kayak, which you can use to book flights, accommodation, rental cars, and restaurant tables.

Holiday essentials laid out on wooden floor

Credits: Shutterstock

Or use booking apps such as Booking.com, Airbnb or Hotels.com to find a great deal on accommodation in the UK or abroad.

If travel restrictions mean you’re looking at unfamiliar destinations, you can also find out more about what the countries on the green list have to offer with the Guides by Lonely Planet app.

Packed with immersive experiences and advice from local experts – as well as useful features for once you are there – the app covers more than 8,000 destinations and is sold as “the ultimate resource before and during a trip”.

Stay up-to-date with the latest Government foreign travel advice here.

Enjoy stress-free travel

Even with restrictions lifting, travelling this summer is likely to involve jumping through more hoops than it did in the past.

So swerve stressful border controls by downloading the NHS app, which is now available on both iOS and Android. The app helps you prove you’ve been vaccinated, or have tested negative for COVID-19, in just a few taps.

Then organise your packing with PackPoint, an easy-to-use app designed to prevent you forgetting anything you’ll need on your trip – based on where you’re going, who you’re travelling with, and what activities you have planned.

Once you’ve packed, you can also use a GPS tracker, such as Vodafone’s Curve, to keep tabs on your keys or favourite bag. You can buy one from the Vodafone website.

Apps that can help to steer your trip in the right direction on arrival at your destination include Google Maps and Citymapper, which lets you choose between walking, cycling, and public transport to get around a range of cities across the world.

It’s also worth downloading a currency conversion app such as XE Currency to avoid being caught out by the local currency on your first day.

Protect your home while you’re away

Burglary and theft rates fell dramatically during the COVID-19 lockdowns, with residential robberies down by around 25%. But now that we can all roam more or less freely again, your home is more likely to being targeted by thieves.

Whether you’re out for the evening or off on a three-week holiday, investing in tech to protect your home could therefore prove a wise move this summer.

A video doorbell, for example, alerts you whenever someone rings it, and allows you to see and talk to that person via your phone – whatever you’re doing.

So if your visitor is a delivery driver, you can ask him or her to take the parcel to a neighbour’s house, or store it in a safe place until your return.

And if it’s a burglar checking whether anyone’s in, you can tell them you will be contacting the local police – and sharing the video footage you have of the potential perpetrator.

Video doorbells come with a wide variety of price tags, but one of the most popular is the Ezviz DB1C Wi-Fi Video Doorbell, which you can find online for about £100. Ring is another popular manufacturer.

To ensure your home looks occupied even when it’s not, you can also use smart light switches in conjunction with smart assistants, such as Alexa or Google Assistant on your phone or smart speaker, to manage when the lights go on and off – even if you’re on the other side of the world.

There are also plenty of home security systems out there, including Vodafone’s V-Home Safety Starter Kit.

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