These days, we’re hailing cabs and blazing through entire TV series faster than ever before, and the latest crop of time-saving apps, tools and services are on the cutting edge of efficiency. Below, here’s nine (mostly) new, innovative shortcuts to try.
Finish Your Reading List Faster
Long story short: Instead of reading text line by line, the hyped-up speed-reading technology Spritz streams each word individually at rapid-fire speeds that you control. The method lets you read up to 1,000 words per minute; in theory that means you could start and finish a Harry Potter book in an hour, War and Peace in a day.
What it cuts out: The time spent reading lines of text across a page, turning pages and swiping through a Kindle.
How to get it: For now, the Spritz app only comes preloaded on Samsung’s new Galaxy S5 phone and Gear 2 smartwatch.
Pay For Your Starbucks Latte Faster
Long story short: Starbucks recently rolled out a “shake to pay” feature on its app that—as the name suggests—instantly brings up the barcode needed to pay at the register with a shake of your phone.
What it cuts out: Fussing with wallets for cash or that S-Bux gift card.
How to get it: Download it for iPhone | for Android
Pay Someone for Anything Faster
Long Story Short: Next time you need to pay a coworker for lunch, a service called Square Cash lets you do it via email.
Send a new message to your coworker, cc “Cash@square.com,” and add the dollar amount in the subject line (a note in the email is optional). Then press Send. First-timers get an email prompting them to go to the Square Cash’s website to add their Visa or MasterCard debit card info. After that, it’s all set.
What it cuts out: Logging into a bank or app every time you need to pay someone.
How to get it: Just send the email, or download the app for iPhone | for Android
Get To Your Terminal Faster
Long Story Short: Vetted members of TSA’s PreCheck program are pre-screened and can scoot through security lines without having to take off their shoes or remove laptops from cases. Another shortcut: The U.S. Customs Department’s Global Entry program for frequent international travelers.
What it cuts out: Waiting in security check and customs lines.
How to get it: Sign up on TSA’s PreCheck website to apply. View a list of the airports (currently 115 nationwide) where PreCheck is available here.
Or Just Book a Jet Faster
Long Story Short: The first of its kind, the startup JetSmarter is an Uber for jets that lets customers book and pay for private jet charters (there are over 3,200 jets in its marketplace) at wholesale rates on their mobile phone or online.
What it cuts out: Aviation brokers and operators—and their fees and commission rates.
How to get it: Visit jetsmarter.com or download it for iPhone | for Android
Get Over Jet Lag Faster
Long Story Short: They say every hour you’re shifting between destinations is about equal to a day of adjustment. A new app called Entrain can significantly reduce that time. Plug in the time zone of your destination, and the app calculates a schedule recommending when to stay in bright light, low light or be in the dark to help sync your body to a new time zone as quickly as possible.
What it cuts out: Doing the math on your own.
How to get it: Download it for iPhone (Android TBD)
Restock Your Fridge Faster
Long Story Short: Amazon just started rolling out its handheld grocery ordering device, the Dash, into people’s homes. Say or scan items—anything from produce to everyday household items—that you need to replenish, view the list on your desktop or mobile phone (Dash works with your AmazonFresh account) and schedule delivery.
What it cuts out: The entire trip to the grocery store.
How to get it: It’s free for now by signing up for a trial at fresh.amazon.com/dash
Speak to a Customer Service Rep Faster
Long Story Short: FastCustomer does the waiting for you whenever you need to talk to a company’s customer service representative.
Just text (936) CALL-PLS the name of the company you need to speak with (FastCustomer’s directory has over 3,000), and they’ll call the company. Your phone rings with the rep on the other line.
What it cuts out: Waiting on hold and indefinite loops of elevator music.
Download it: Just send a text message, or download the app for iPhone | for Android
Make a Last-Minute Beauty Appointment Faster
Long Story Short: New York DJ Hannah Bronfman’s Beautified app is designed for booking same-day spa and beauty appointments in a hurry. Users choose services from massages and facials to blow outs and bikini waxes, with access to a tightly edited rolodex of New York’s top experts like Tracie Martyn and John Barrett.
What it cuts out: Calling up your favorite salon to inquire about openings, even if it’s on speed dial.
How to get it: Download it for iPhone (New Yorkers only!)
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