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Free App Friday: 5 Tools To Increase Your Efficiency

Tap into technology to take time back when you’re dining out, parking your car, or reading the news.

Time is money. Work smarter, not harder. Do more with less. These oft-heard quips boil down to efficiency.

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Here I am wasting my time and yours on an overly wordy intro about efficiency. Let’s get to the apps, eh?

1. Don’t Wait for the Waiter

Find a joint–from greasy-spoon to fancy–that works with Dash (Android, iOS) and you can use the app to pay the bill when you’re ready to split. Oh, and speaking of splitting: you can split the bill with your Dash-using buddies, complete with tip–no math necessary. Dash is up and running in New York City, Chicago, Washington D.C. and more than 50 college towns, and has a few other tricks up its sleeve such as letting you know how crowded a place is before you go or letting you request an Uber right from inside the app.

2. Talk Like You’re Texting

Cord (Android, iOS) blends the straightforwardness of text messaging with the expressiveness of phone calls. The app lets you bandy 12-second voice messages back and forth between your friends, either individually or in a group. The home screen shows little round bubbles with each of your fellow Cord users’ faces along with how many messages you have from each. Tap each person to listen to their messages and then hold down to reply.

3. Don’t Get Delayed by Deliveries

Use Slice (Android, iOS) to track your packages from big-name retailers Amazon, Best Buy, Nordstrom, Walmart, and several others. The app automatically plucks your purchase info from your email and serves you up a trackable map of your purchase as it makes its way to your house. Best of all, after you’ve bought something, Slice will alert you to price drops that fall within the retailer’s adjustment window, making it easy to save on stuff after the fact.

4. Quit Circling the Block

Boasting a giant database of garages and lots, ParkMe Parking (Android, iOS) plots out spots by price and, in certain locales, by how many spaces each option has open. Data is available for more than 500 cities around the world, and the app can help steer you via GPS to your selection’s entrance driveway–not just the cross street. Once you’re parked, ParkMe can send you reminders as rates go up or when you’ll need to move your car so you don’t get a ticket.

5. Mainline the News

If there’s a way to efficiently consume news, SmartNews (Android, iOS) is it. The app is built for speed, and scours more than 10 million articles each day to serve up the top trending ones from popular outlets. The interface is intuitive and lends itself to glance-able headlines; click through and each article is served up in a clutter-free page reminiscent of read-it-later apps like Pocket and Instapaper.

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