By Emilie Elliot, Fueled

Modern technology is always improving and complicating our lives in so many ways at the same time. Sometimes the negatives outweigh the positives, or at least, makes technological progress seem like a quality-of-life zero-sum game. However, there is technology that can solve more problems than it introduces, if you just know where to look. We rounded up some of the coolest fixes around.

USB chargers

As much as we love Android, it has pretty sorry battery life. A day of heavy use can drain the battery before the sun sets. Even if there were always an outlet nearby, how many of us would really carry around that tangle-prone wall charger with us all the time?

Fortunately, there’s a better alternative. For about $20, you can purchase a lightweight lipstick-sized external USB/micro USB battery. Charge it up when you’re at home, and take it with you when you leave the house. They fit easily in any purse or pocket, charge your device quickly, and can really help you avoid those “Crap, my phone’s almost dead” moments. Even iPhone owners can use them, with a little extra investment in a lightning-to-micro-USB adapter.

QR codes

Unassuming, but highly useful and ubiquitous, are your standard QR codes. You read that right – QR codes. How many times have you tried to give out your business card only to realize you’ve run out? You can almost see a deal or networking connection evaporate in real time.

Now, failure to restock your business card holder doesn’t mean you have to forgo giving out your information, nor does it force someone to painstakingly type your contact details into their phone. Most smart phones these days come with a barcode reader app pre-installed, though there are plenty available for download. Simply head to a free QR code generator such as the QR Code Generator, plug in your details, and your personalized QR code is ready in an instant. Save it to your phone, and all your contact has to do is scan the code to receive your contact information. Because they’re so convenient, QR codes are popping up everywhere from conference badges, as payment confirmation for events, and in place of paper tickets.

Transit apps

It seems obvious enough, but there are still people out there who haven’t installed transit apps on their smartphones. If you live in a city with widespread public transit and you haven’t downloaded a transit app, what are you waiting for? Most of them are free and accurate, so there’s really no downside. Sure, schedules are still posted near train and bus stops but it’s much more convenient to track a GPS-equipped ride in real time. We promise, if one of these apps saves you ten needless minutes of standing in the blistering heat or allows you extra time to get ready, you’ll be thanking us. Just go to your smartphone’s app store and search for transit agencies’ names. Make sure to read the reviews and check the changelog to make sure the app is being updated regularly.

No more running out of phone battery or sprinting to catch a bus that’s not on schedule – now that’s technology that improves lives.

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