Inspiration comes from the most unexpected of places, which is why keeping up to speed with what is going on in the world is so important for us at O. We have returned this week with another list of apps, shows, podcasts and articles that have been sparking our interest lately and stimulated our curiosity to extend our knowledge further. We would love to hear about some of the best things you have discovered recently!
Flora: Focus & Study in Forest – We’ve tried all sorts of apps with tips and tricks for productivity yet nothing has been as effective and fun as Flora. On the one hand, the app is grounded in the Pomodoro technique, which implies staying intensely focused for slots of 25 minutes at a time. On the other hand, what differentiates Flora from all other similar apps we have tried is its fun twist on competition and interactivity. The way the app works is quite straightforward – every time you wish to be productive, you plant a seed in your digital garden, estimating how long you want to go without checking your phone. As minutes go by, the plant grows bigger and eventually turns into a tree – however, if you can’t stay away from your phone for as long as you initially anticipated, the plant dies. What is even more fun is that Flora allows you to connect with fellow teammates or work buddies, which leads to hilarious competition between productivity gardens. Oh and last but not least – every time you use Flora money, your virtual tree transforms into a real-life one, contributing to making the planet a little more breathable!
Too Good To Go – Did you know that 1.9 mil tonnes of food is wasted by the food industry every year in the UK? What is more, the overwhelming majority of products thrown off the shelves is still in good condition and ready for consumption. Considering recently voiced concerns about the environmental crisis the world is heading for unless action is taken, food waste seems like something small that we can all participate in reducing. Too Good To Go is a good way to start contributing to a more sustainable food industry. Developed to look and feel similar to Deliveroo’s trademarked interface, the app aims to connect customers with local restaurants that do not wish to waste away their daily leftovers. The app works on a pretty simple system; there are two main timeframes when food is up for grabs (lunch and dinner). During those pick-up times, each partnering restaurant has a limited number of ‘Magic Bags’ (the surplus food that needs eating). But here’s the catch: unlike other food delivery apps, you have no control over what food you are going to get from your restaurant of choice. All you have to do is pay for the Magic Bag (sometimes for as cheap as £1.75!) then hope for the best. One major drawback is that Too Good To Go does not include the delivery, which means you will have to go and collect the food yourself.
Nichi: Collage & Stories Maker – There’s no denying it, Instagram stories are here to stay as one of the most powerful tools of visual communication. While our profile feeds reflect the curated events we want to permanently share with the world, our stories reveal a more ‘genuine’ and ‘impromptu’ side to how we present our everyday lives. Of course, that does not mean they don’t take time to beautify, which is something Nichi creators aren’t afraid to speculate on. Developed by a team of Chinese designers, Nichi is the perfect tool for super kawaii story layouts heavily influenced by Asian aesthetics. The app is mostly free, with the majority of elements and pre-sets free of charge, so why not give it a try?
There’s Nothing Wrong with Posing for Photos at Chernobyl – An interesting analysis of the social media controversy that ensued following the success of HBO’s Chernobyl. Taylor Lorenz makes a compelling case on dark tourism and ethical sightseeing, ending with a great argument in favour of Instagram as the contemporary tool for documenting our lives and cementing the past within a broader social consciousness.
Why Our Devices Stopped Playing Nice With One Another – A brilliant satirical take on what visionary science fiction fantasies about the technologies of the future actually feel like in 2019. We are surrounded by devices every day and our daily chores are arguably dependent on them, yet we still haven’t discovered a way to make peace between Alexa and Siri, or iOS and Android.
The Shrink Next Door – You’ve probably heard of Wondery before – they’re the critically acclaimed network that created the now super-famous Dirty John podcast-turned-Netflix-documentary-and-series. Their stories are impeccably researched and brilliantly put together in easy-to-follow episodes that have us waiting on our toes for more. Their latest release in partnership with Bloomberg – The Shrink Next Door – is just another testament to Wondery’s incredible grasp of what makes audiences come back week after week for a new episode. Released in May of this year, the podcast tells the story of a celebrity and socialite therapist called Ike, told from the perspective of veteran journalist and neighbourhood of Ike’s, Joe Nocera. Known for the eccentric parties hosted at his Hamptons residence, Ike’s life appears, on the surface, to be filled with the glamour and extravagance of Manhattan’s high society. However, when Joe discovers that his neighbour is gone, everything he has ever known about Ike and his estate came crumbling down.
The Intelligence – The Economist’s podcast, released late in 2018, is the perfect cure for a boring commute. Swap endlessly scrolling through Instagram or boring radio show hosts for these 20-minute episodes packed with all you need to know about current world affairs. Episodes come out daily and include topics from all over the world, starting with UK politics and venturing all the way into topics such as Jared Kushner’s plans for the Iranian-American conflict, or the re-election of Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari. Definitely a must-listen for anyone interested in (fairly) unbiased and to-the-point journalism!
The Chernobyl Podcast – You will have heard by now what an astounding success the HBO and Sky original series Chernobyl was. But if you’re curious by nature and feel compelled, like us, to know all the details about what wasn’t shown on screen about the series, then The Chernobyl Podcast is the perfect fix for you. Every episode of this five-part show is an incursion into the challenges of staying true-to-life and an act of transparency on Craig Mazin’s part, the creator and writer of Chernobyl. Moreover, the podcast is filled with jaw-dropping accounts from witnesses and survivors of the 1986 nuclear explosion that didn’t make it into the script, which makes for a fascinating yet uncomfortable listen. Don’t get discouraged though, it’s worth every minute of it!
Barry – If you’re looking for new things to get out of your Amazon Prime subscription, let it be Barry. The show, co-created, produced, written and sometimes directed by Saturday Night Live legend Bill Hader, follows the story of a hitman hired to kill a young Hollywood celebrity, who gets trapped in an acting class that makes him reconsider his life plans. Bitten by the acting bug, Barry abandons his mission and embarks on a journey towards a slightly more conventional career, finding a supporting and accepting community of young professionals hoping to make it big in LA’s theatre scene. The series masterfully handles dark humour and tense plotlines in a way that has attracted much critical acclaim for its comedic genius, which is exactly why we suggest you give it a try!
Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj – This Netflix-original variety show aims to explore social, cultural and political landscapes in depth and find answers for issues that divide us as a society. The episodes, running for just about 20-something minutes, are packed with well-documented facts about topics such as the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, hype culture, student loans, the Sudanese crisis or cricket corruption, Minhaj’s political satire setting the show apart from any other of its kind. Season finale for Volume 3 has aired in mid-June this year, so you have just about 19 episodes to binge on your next weekend in!