Are you ready to ring in the new year? If you're like most folks, you'll start it with a clean slate and a steady resolve to get healthy or save money or learn something new in the coming year. The best way to make and keep New Year's resolutions is to get support where you can — including from your smartphone.
Try these apps to help you reach your goals for the New Year.
Apps to help you lose weight
1. Diet Assistant. Enter in your target and current weight, and Diet Assistant will design a meal plan to get you there, complete with a daily menu, portion sizes and a shopping list. You can even alter the menu to follow a specific diet, such as vegetarian or high protein. (iOS, Android, Free.)
2. Calorie Counter and Fitness Tracker by MyFitnessPal. The problem with most calorie-counting apps is that they are a pain to use. If you're going to fess up to every calorie and fat gram you consume throughout the day, you need it to be easy. And this app gives you just that. With over 3 million foods in its database, you can track calories, fat, carbs, and cholesterol in just about everything you eat. This app also includes more than 350 cardio and strength training exercises to help you burn those calories and tone up. (iOS, Android, Free.)
3. Noom Weight. It's easy to start a diet, but so much harder to stick with it. That's where Noom Weight comes in. This is essentially a coaching app that teaches you smarter eating and exercise habits, and that can help you hit your goals and stick with your plan. There is also an option to connect with other "Noomers" virtually to motivate you along the way. (iOS, Android, Free.)
Apps to help you get fit
4. Nike+. Want to keep track of your runs and walks? Nike+ lets you do just that. You can keep it simple and stop right there, or mess around with the app's other features such as coaching plans, power songs and social media cheers from friends during your workout. A social feature lets you track friends' workouts and compare your weekly/monthly/and yearly miles. (iOS, Android, Free.)
5. Strava. This popular app is a social media network in and of itself. You can track running and/or cycling, join clubs, enter challenges, and earn titles such as "King of the Mountain" whenever you run or bike a certain spot on the map faster than anyone else. (iOS, Android, Free.)
6. iCardio Workout Tracker. Serious exercise enthusiasts like to keep track of data, and this app has data in spades. Pair it with a compatible heart rate monitor to track training zones and fitness levels. (iOS, Android, Free initially, but requires accessories and add-ons costing $50-$100.)
Apps to help you save money
7. Mint. The first step in saving money is figuring out exactly what you have and where you have it. Mint lets you do just that by tracing all of your accounts — savings, checking, retirement, etc. It also automatically records and categorizes each transaction. (iOS, Android, Free.)
8. BillTracker. Keep track of all of your bills and monthly payments with this handy dandy little app that will also send you reminders when due dates are approaching. (iOS, $2.99.)
9. You Need A Budget (YNAB) If you've never created a budget before, this is the app for you. It's a breeze to set up and to use and it can help you get a better idea of your financial situation. The app is an accessory to software you need to purchase, but it is well worth it for folks who need to keep better track of their money. The software operates by four simple rules: 1) Give every dollar a job, 2) Save for a rainy day, 3) Roll with the punches, and 4) Live on last month’s income. (iOS, Android, Free with purchase of software for $60.)
Apps to help you be more productive
10. Self-Control. Let's face it, the Internet can be a total time suck when what you really need to do is focus on work or other projects. From social media to the latest news reports, it's easy to get lost in a sink hole every time you get online. When your own self-control is lacking, this app steps in to keep you on track. Simply set the apps timer and it will act as if you are offline until the time is up. You can also blacklist certain sites, so for instance, you can still search Google, but not Facebook or Twitter. Be warned though, once the timer is set, no amount of restarting will turn your sites back on. (iOs only.)
11. Anti-Social. If you can't handle the complete Internet blackout approach of the Self-Control app and don't feel like going through the hassle of blacklisting certain sites, try the Anti-Social app, which bans all social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Digg, Reddit, YouTube, Hulu, Vimeo, as well as any web-based email sites. One good (and bad) feature is that you can turn off the app by rebooting your phone or computer. (iOs, $.99.)
12. Focus@Will. If you need to limit distractions and you enjoy listening to music, give Focus@Will a try. The app provides special playlists designed to improve focus and bolster creativity. You might be thinking, "Why can't I just use Pandora?" Well, you can. But the company claims its 50 channels, such as "Alpha Chill" and "UpTempo," are "exclusively commissioned" and "based on proven neuroscience research." (iOS, Android, Free.)
Apps to help you get organized
13. Any.do. Make lists and manage tasks like a boss with this app that lets you organize your to-do list. The daily Any.do moment encourages you to take time each day to review your daily tasks to keep you on track. And geo-location reminders help to keep you organized on-the-go. (iOS, Android, Free or $2.99 for special features.)
14. Evernote. It's easy to take notes on your computer or smartphone, but harder to keep track of those notes or organize them in any meaningful way. Enter Evernote. This straightforward note-making app lets you save apps in the cloud and access, organize, or search them from any device. (iOs only, Free.)
15. Remember the Milk. Stop making to-do lists and throw away those sticky notes. Designed for busy people, Remember the Milk allows you to get your to-do list out of your head, off random scraps of paper and into an app. You can enter tasks with their due dates and priorities, and get reminded by email, text, IM, Twitter, and mobile apps. Create as many lists as you like, add colorful tags and break down subtasks. The app syncs with all your devices. (iOS, Android, Free.)
Apps to help you learn something new
16. Duolingo. From drills to exercises to real-world translations, Duolingo helps guide you from the beginner level to more advanced aspects of your new language. Not many languages are supported, but if you're interested in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, this is the app for you. (iOS, Android, Free.)
17. Exoplanet. This app is an interactive catalog of all the known planets outside our solar system. You can scroll through or point your phone at the sky and use the augmented reality sky map to try to find planets. It's updated within a few hours of new discoveries being confirmed, so you can stay on top of your planetary breaking news. (iOS, Android, Free.)
18. DailyArt. Expand your cultural horizons with DailyArt, an app that will deliver one piece of classical art to your smartphone or other device each day. Take in the art, read a little background on the artist and the piece while you drink your coffee, and then go about your day knowing you've had at least a little shot of cultural awareness. (iOS, Android, Free.)
Good luck with all of your goals for the new year!
Editor's note: This story has been updated since it was originally published in December 2014.