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Apps and Gear for Summer (2019 Edition)

Summer is a time for many things, but for us, it doesn’t get much better than spending time with people we care about, making memories, and taking the opportunity to unwind a little. In that vein, we’ve put together a list — as we did back in 2014 and again in 2016 — full of apps and gear (plus a bonus mention!) to help make your summer the best it can be.


  • Perfect Tempo ($5): Need to learn some songs to play at upcoming gatherings? Perfect Tempo is capable of changing the tempo (up or down) of any song on your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch — without affecting the pitch — so you can play along with your favorite music at your own pace.

    Perfect Tempo app

    What’s even cooler is that it can do the same for any song on Apple Music, as well as any tracks saved on cloud services like iCloud, Dropbox, and more. You can also have the whole song repeated at your set tempo, or just one specific section of it.

  • Cardhop for iOS ($4) and for Mac ($20): Summer’s a great time for making new friends and hopefully forming lifelong connections. A great contact management app can help you keep in touch with all the people you meet, in the ways that are most important to you.


    Flexibits’ Cardhop app features a natural-language input system — which works via text or voice — that can help you capture contact info and easily retrieve it again later. Try it out and you’ll see that contact management doesn’t have to be a chore.

  • Yonks for iPhone ($2): Yonks (British slang for “a long time” ??) helps you keep track of past and future dates/notable milestones that are important to you.


    For example, you could track how many days are left of summer vacation, the number of days until the release of your most anticipated blockbuster film, how long you’ve been sticking with your beach body diet, etc…all on a customizable, easy-to-read list.

  • RNI Flashback ($4): Here we have an image editor tool for iPhone and iPad that, with the repeated tap of a single button, creates an infinite number of unique and pronounced analog looks. These aren’t pre-defined filters like you’d get with VSCO or Snapseed — they’re more like mixes of virtual photographic film.

    RNI Flashback

    It’s really fun to play with and makes it effortless to add some film-like pop to your photos.

  • Day One for iOS and for Mac (both are free to download with a Day One Premium subscription to unlock more features): Day One is the best journaling app there is. It’s something we’ve always felt so strongly about that we made an entire course about it. Use it to capture all your summertime memories today, and your future self will thank you.
    Day One


  • Carhartt Deluxe Lunch Cooler ($25): If you want a cooler that will last under any kind of abuse, going with one made by a long-trusted workwear company can’t hurt. Carhartt’s soft-sided Deluxe Lunch Cooler is a dual-compartment insulated cooler bag that’ll keep your cold stuff cold and your sandwiches un-smushed, wherever you take it and no matter what the weather’s like.

    Carhartt lunch cooler

    The main compartment is large enough to hold a six-pack (if that’s all you need rather than full meals), while snacks, sides, fruits, veggies, and other such small items go in the top “dome” mesh compartment, also insulated. A front zippered pocket is where you can store utensils and condiments.

    The cooler measures 10″ x 9″ x 7″ and can be easily carried by either the shoulder strap or top handle. It’s also constructed from a heavy duty water-repellant material and sports YKK zippers and triple-needle stitching for maximum durability and quality.

  • ThermoPro TP15 Instant-Read Meat Thermometer ($14): The ThermoPro TP15 is an excellent (and affordable!) handheld instant-read meat thermometer that cuts all the guesswork out of cooking and grilling by getting readings of internal temperature within 3–4 seconds flat. This speed doesn’t come at the expense of accuracy, either; it’s still accurate to ±0.9°F (±0.5°C).


    On the front is a “Hold” button that locks the temp reading on the thermometer’s display when you remove it from the meat, so you’re not having to stick your face to close to flames or into a hot oven to read it. That same display has a backlight feature so you can read it in dim situations.

    The thermometer is rated IPX6 waterproof, so you can thoroughly soap and wash it under running water without worry. It also has a strong magnet on the back for storing it on your fridge door, BBQ rack, magnetic knife strip, etc. Or, you can just hang it on a hook.

  • Anker “Nebula Mars II” Portable Projector ($500): Set up a movie night with friends just about anywhere with the awesomely named Nebula Mars II portable mini projector. It’s about the size of a Bluetooth speaker — which it actually can be used for when you’re not watching something — so you can take it from room to room, or move it around within a room, no problem.

    Anker Nebula Mars II Projector

    The cool part is that it’ll automatically correct the image after being moved, both in terms of picture focus and accounting for the “keystone” angling effect. You don’t have to fiddle with settings every time you set it up — it just works.

    The dual 10-watt speakers (one on either side) offer a rich, room-filling level of audio on their own, but if you want, you can still connect to external speakers with a 3.5mm cable or via Bluetooth. When you’re not plugged into a wall outlet, the Nebula Mars II’s rechargeable 12,500mAh battery provides about 4 hours of video playback.

  • UE Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker ($60–$90, depending on color): On the subject of speakers, Ultimate Ears’ UE Wonderboom may be pint-sized, but it pumps out a surprising amount of sound in all directions. It has an IPX7 waterproof rating, making it submersible up to 3 feet for half an hour. Perfect for jamming tunes at pool parties, then again later while you’re rinsing off in the shower.

    UE Wonderboom speaker

  • Kindle Paperwhite (from $100): Maybe a loud pool party isn’t your speed, and you’d rather just sit by the water, unwinding with a good book. Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite e-reader gives you a glare-free reading experience that you won’t have to worry about dropping into the pool, thanks to its IPX8 waterproof rating.

    Kindle Paperwhite

    For another $100, you could instead spring for the Kindle Oasis, which has a bigger screen, more than double the LED backlights, auto-adjusting light sensors, and physical page-turn buttons. Or, you could simply download the free Kindle app on your iPad or iPhone, if that’s how you prefer to read (or you want to save room in your bag).

* * *

Bonus mention: This isn’t an app or piece of gear, but simply a music recommendation. Our friend and contributor Tyler Hayes has concocted a Summer 2019 playlist to accompany you by the pool and elsewhere in the coming months, just like he did last year.

As he describes in his Liisten newsletter:

There are some songs that float on a summer breeze better than others. This summer playlist for 2019 are all songs released this year (minus one exception) which have that floating ability.

Fantastic choices all around. You can find the playlist on:

Must-Have, Most-Used Photography Apps

We spend an inordinate amount of time sorting through hundreds of apps to find the very best. Our team here at The Sweet Setup put together a short list of our must-have, most-used apps for taking and editing photos on iPhone and iPad.

Send me the roundup »