If you’ve watched any Christmas movie ever, you’re well aware of the popular opinion that this time of year is filled with joy, togetherness, and goodwill towards men. But let’s be honest, the holidays can suck—impossible travel conditions, the alcohol checkpoint ambush, shopping lines from hell. Luckily, we live in the future. And while hover boards, flying cars, and robot servants are still a ways off, we still get to carry around phones in our pockets that are more sophisticated and powerful than the computers that landed a man on the moon. But the best thing about the current generation of smartphones? We can say, there are apps for all that. Here are seven to help you survive the season.
Shop Savvy Barcode Reader
Everybody’s had that universal holiday shopping moment—you’ve found the perfect gift for one of the people on your list, but you’re not sure if it’s at the right price. Nothing is more aggravating than blowing a good portion of your gift-buying budget on a Xbox only to find it a week later at another store for 20 percent less than what you paid. That’s where Texas-based Big In Japan’s Shop Savvy app for both the iPhone and Android phones comes in. The Savvy Shopper lets you scan the barcode of any product and immediately compare it to not only its online listings but nearby brick-and-mortar stores as well. And it’s free.
Whether it’s because you’re the only member of your family to leave your hometown or you agreed to attend Christmas at your girlfriend’s parent’s house (in Chicago), traveling during the holidays can seem like unholy punishment you wouldn’t wish upopn your worst enemy. Stay on top of all the reservation information, getting to and from, and God forbid if your flight is delayed or worse, canceled. That’s why there’s TripCase, available for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry. The Pro version is even free to try through March. TripCase organizes all the reservation information (flight, hotels, car rentals), keeps you updated on flight delays/cancelations, alerts your friends and family of flight delays, find alternate flights, and even find stuff to do wherever you’re stuck during a layover—planned or not.
Pandora and Grooveshark
Why is it that holiday music, which is designed to celebrate goodness and joy, often incites murderous rage? Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t everywhere you go throughout the month of December (Is every place with a PA system under legal mandate to play “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus?”). But fear not, brave music lover, just cue up the Pandora or Grooveshark app (both are available for free on pretty much all platfroms), pop in your headphones, and rock out to songs chosen for your specific musical taste to block out the painful yuletide melodies.
FatSecret’s Calorie Counter
OK, so you’ve made an effort to stay in shape this year. You’ve gotten into a regular gym routine, you’re eating healthy, and, hey, you’re looking good. But around the holidays, that progress could easily come undone. Blame it on not being able to find the time to work out or the cold darkness of winter making you more lethargic. But the simple reason that you get derailed? Food. No matter what religious holiday you celebrate, food is involved and you tend to overeat, a lot. That’s why we recommend using FatSecret’s free calorie counter on Blackberry, iPhone, or Android so you know when it’s time to turn down another helping of Aunt Shirley’s baked ham or baklava.
Have you ever been stuck in a conversation where you prayed for someone, anyone, to call your phone so you could have an excuse to step away and no longer have to feign interest in the complexities that are involved in the various techniques of flossing? Here’s an app that takes out the divine intervention. Fake-A-Call rings your phone at preset time and flashes a predetermined contact on your screen. To everyone else it looks like your boss really is calling you about some work emergency, allowing you to gracefully slip away. It’s $0.99 for iPhone and Android, and $2.99 for BlackBerry. So download and set up it before Uncle Jimmy grabs your arm and talks for twenty minutes about his latest medical procedure.
There are smartphone apps to pretty much help make every aspect of your life easier, but our favorite will always be the games. A good smartphone game has to be both compelling and not too engrossing. It’s something that you can use to keep from being bored on the airport shuttle ride home but that you can immediately click off without a second thought when the cute girl you’re sitting next to starts chatting you up. A Made Possible favorite is the highly addictive Angry Birds, which is available on the iPhone for $0.99 and free on the Android. The game has a simple, yet amusing premise: you are an angry bird attacking green cartoon pigs who stole eggs from your nest, with 195 levels, you're bound to keep busy. Trust us, it’s a perfect way to kill time on the drive to Grandma’s house or distract rugrats so you can go off to drink with the other adults.
Blood Alcohol Calculator
Using smartphone apps isn’t the only way that people cope with the holidays. The oldest and most popular is booze, that’s why this time of year sees an increase in the number of DUI and drunk driving accidents. There’s also the high number of social faux pas committed because of one too many at office Christmas parties. So before you ask Cindy from accounting when the baby’s due and she tells you she’s not pregnant – use a blood alcohol calculator app to tell when it’s time to slow down and hand over your keys. iPhone and Android users can both get free versions, while BlackBerry users have to bite the bullet and pay a buck.