Editor’s Note: This post is written by guest author Andreas Bernstrom, a former Goldman Sachs alum who has worked at TradeDoubler, was COO of Taptu, and in 2009 joined Rebtel as CEO. You can follow him on Twitter @AndreasCB here.
It’s that time of the year again and if you haven’t started thinking about what to get that special someone in your life, better start thinking fast, or Cupid’s arrow might just speed right past you.
Luckily, we live in a world where our smartphones have become pragmatic problem solvers. Need the perfect gift? There’s an app for that. Can’t get a restaurant reservation? There’s an app for that. Girlfriend being a royal V-Day diva and it’s only 9 a.m.? There’s an app for that. (Well, not really, but it’s only a matter of time).
Here are five unique ways that mobile apps will not only ensure you get through “le jour d’amour” with flying colors, but will provide you with time and cash-saving tricks that you can use any day of the year.
Car service trumps a taxi. So just Uber it.
If you live in a big city or plan to leave the keys at home this Valentine’s Day (more champagne, please!), hopping in a cab is probably the way to go. Unfortunately, landing a vacant taxicab on a night that high-heels come out in the masses is no small feat. Fear not. The hottest transportation app to hit the market this year is an uber sweet (no pun intended) way to skip the cab lines and ride in style.
As Uber’s tagline reveals, the service exists as “everyone’s private driver,” and guarantees fast, on-demand service.
Users in one of Uber’s eight operating cities — Boston, Chicago, New York City, Paris, Seattle, Toronto and Washington, D.C.—can use their iPhone or Android device to order on-demand luxury transporation from anywhere at anytime.
The cost per minute varies depending on the city, but after an initial base fare ($7.00 in New York and $8.00 in San Francisco), Uber is only a tad pricier than the average taxi. But the convenience of having a sleek town car at your fingertips is well worth a little extra cash. Bonus: the tip is included! (Read more TechCrunch coverage of Uber here.)
Another suggestion for those without a lot extra money to spend? If you want to rent a really nice car, say a sexy looking Tesla, but don’t have the dolla bills, check out Getaround. The TechCrunch Disrupt winner will hook you up with a hot ride for cheap, on the Web or on your smartphone.
No reservations? OpenTable has a spot for you.
Those of you who are already users of this revolutionary make-my-life easy tool probably already have a reservation booked for 7:30 p.m. at your favorite corner table. Those of you who aren’t: Please proceed immediately to your nearest open table app.
OpenTable is now available on any smartphone device. No irritated hosts to wrestle with. No waiting on hold for 20 minutes, only to discover the next available reservation is three months from now. The OpenTable app provides a quick, easy and free solution to V-Day dinner woes. And as you’re probably just realizing now that you forgot to make a reservation, it’s a handy tool for a last-minute crisis.
You can run a search on the OpenTable web site or the mobile app for a specific type of restaurant and location, and the app will return a list of viable options and times the restaurant has a table available. Have a special request or message for the host? Punch it into the “notes” box, and the restaurant staff will immediately see any notes for your reservation.
If you register with OpenTable, you’ll also have access to Dining Reward points, which can be redeemed at any of the company’s 20,000 affiliated restaurants. Just make sure you show up for dinner, though. After four “no shows,” OpenTable deactivates your account.
Long-distance relationships at local prices.
If your special someone is across country lines this Valentine’s Day, you’ll probably wake up to a foray of digital hearts showering your screen. But e-cards are so 2001 and new technology has emerged that makes keeping in touch a truly simple, affordable and personal experience.
Video-calling applications, like Skype and Facetime, are the next best thing to seeing someone in the flesh, and apps like Viber and my own company, Rebtel, provide cheap or free solutions for keeping in touch on the go or when video chat isn’t convenient.
Rebtel and Viber can be downloaded on any iPhone or Android device, and allow you to make international phone calls using your friendly neighborhood WiFi network or 3G connection. That way, your phone carrier can’t rob you in international charges, and you still get to talk to whomever from wherever for free (or next to nothing).
The best part of these services is that they’re free or very affordable. And despite pressure from retailers to blow cash on expensive gifts for Valentine’s Day, the simple truth is that there’s still no replacement for a clear connection to the sound of your partner’s voice.
No time for presents? Social gifting apps could be your answer.
It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind, only to wake up on Valentine’s Day with no plans, no gifts and a potential romance disaster waiting in the wings. If you find yourself in this situation don’t worry … things just got a lot easier.
Apps like Giftiki let users send money in the form of gift cards that your Valentine can use at a number of sweet brands. And you can tailor the gift with personal messages and even let some of their friends join in on the fun.
If you’re looking for a more personal touch, you may find what you’re looking for in Thoughtful, which takes a ‘personal assistant’ approach with recommendations for gifts that are based on information you enter or that already exists on Facebook.
Want a reminder for that dinner date? No problem. How about a push notification when that perfect gift is available? Yes, please! This app, which is now in limited Beta, can make those tough Valentine’s day decisions a thing of the past, and guarantee that you’ll never fall short on gift ideas again.
Social gifting may not be for everyone, but it can be great for gifting friends and family, too. Remember, your Valentine may not be the only one in need of some February lovin’.
At a loss for words? Lovestagram says a thousand…
We all know that roses are red and violets are blue, but does anyone really look forward to another Valentine’s Day Hallmark card?
If you think your girlfriend will find cliché gifts like flowers, cards and chocolates a bit on the boring side, why not break from the traditional with a Lovestagram?
The girlfriend of Instagram co-founder, Mike Krieger, has launched a romantic version of the hugely popular photo app just in time for Valentine’s Day. By simply logging on to your Instagram account and punching in the username of your partner, Lovestagram will locate every image you’ve captured together and compile the photos into a Valentine’s Day-themed slide show.
Add a personalized note and a couple “xo’s” and voilà— an instant, unique and a perfect way to share the love.
Sending your Valentine a “Cheers” couldn’t hurt either.
You might not always find that perfect gift, but with these apps in hand, you’re bound to come up roses this Valentine’s Day.