It’s summertime, which means road trips for many of us. Whether you’re riding solo or have a car full of family or friends, entertainment on the road is the only way to stay sane. I’m not sure what road-trippers did before smartphones and Game Boys, but I’m glad I wasn’t around for it. With nearly 10 road trips under my belt this year alone, I’m glad to share some apps that have helped me pass the time.
I’ve been playing around with Spotify since it launched in the U.S., and sprung for the premium version so that I could easily rotate songs for long car rides. The mobile app delivers instant access to all your playlists (including iTunes), the millions of songs in its database, and shared tracks. It’s easy to add songs to playlists directly from the app, so you can update your content on the fly. Better yet, Spotify has an offline mode, unlike Pandora, so your music will play on even when you’re driving through a dead zone.
Pool Break Pro ($2.99)
Want to include your trip mates in a game? Pool Break Pro offers pass-n-play features so you can actually involve others in your gaming fun. This Android game offers 3D pool in several versions, so nearly every rule book applies. Just like the real game, Pool Break Pro is all about physics. Zoom in on your shot, line it up, and kick the cue ball. It’s a classic game that’s likely to appeal to everyone in the car, and much more colorful than chess. Wanna play alone? You can take your chances against the computer, or even online with other players. Chat is included as well.
Like to tweet? Try Twidroyd for mobile tweeting. It gives you a full-featured Twitter client to keep the conversations flowing. Tweet with friends, tweet with strangers. Sift through your favorite lists for filtered content viewing, browse through shared links to see videos, photos and articles. With this free app you’ll never feel alone, and Twidroyd makes it pretty simple to send and receive tweets. You’ll get alerts for updates, so you can toggle between apps and stay busy throughout the whole car ride.
Movies are the best way to spend time through long car rides. Just sit back and relax. If you have a Netflix subscription, then you might as well take advantage of this free Android app. There’s an entire directory of movies available for on-demand streaming, and as long as you’re in an area with decent connectivity, you won’t have any issues. With the Netflix app you can access your queue, browse through movie categories and discover something new. If you have to quit the app, your movie will pick up where you left off, so it’s a pretty easy app to use for road trips, and makes any seat first class.
This app is a media hub, letting you access your iTunes content. Playlists, podcasts and videos are all synced with your doubleTwist app, so you can take iTunes on your Android, wherever you go. The app will also sync content from your computer, so you can load up for mobile and offline access. It’s a relief to have a mobile media player that centralizes so much entertainment. You’ll be glad you have it once you’re on the road.
If you’re not one to get car sick easily, a road trip can be a great time to catch up on some reading. I have a few magazine subscriptions through Zinio, including National Geographic and Dwell. These are both intensive on the reading and visualization sides, so I like to really settle in when I get the chance. The Zinio app for Android smartphones only came out a few days ago, though the tablet version has been around for some time. I prefer the tablet version of Zinio over the smaller screen of a smartphone, but I’m glad to have access on both devices (though the smartphone version has left me a little queasy).
WordFeud is another multiplayer game that will keep you on your toes for hours. This Scrabble-like word game is a challenge, testing your smarts with digital letter tiles. Play online with random opponents, or challenge your friends. There’s always a game to play, with support for 30 separate games simultaneously. WordFeud has added a few game twists that keep things from getting too boring, with randomized boards that change up where the DL, TL and TW tiles are. It’s a new game every time, and you can even take a breather to check Twidroyd, as WordFeud offers alerts when your turn circles back.
Majesty: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim ($3.24)
Want something really involved to consume all your time and energy? Majesty: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim will completely entrench you in this detailed story game. It’s an adventure, taking you through a magical world where you rule a fairytale kingdom. It’s up to you to fight off enemies, build your land and explore new territories. As the ruler, you must manage economic development, scientific research and solve all the unexpected troubles that head your way. A combination of Sim City and a tower defense game, Majesty lets you “play god,” controlling the destiny of your citizens from afar.
Trip Journal Lite (free)
Trip Journal is a great way to document your travels, because it does a lot of the heavy lifting for you. Track your route, save photos, videos and text notes, and share your trip right from the app. One of the perks with Trip Journal is the ability to share your travels in real time, with upload options for Google Earth, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube or Twitter. It’s an app you’re likely to use when you’re outside of the car, once you’ve reached your destination. But those long hours on the road are also the perfect time to organize and update your Travel Journal, and you’ll feel more productive along the way.
Books on tape? Save those for your grandparents. Audible is the new way to listen to books, with a wide collection to choose from. You can download audiobooks directly from your Android, or pull from the available library. There are some extra features thrown in there for badge perks and rewards, but when you’re in the car, it’s really all about listening to the books. The good thing about Audible is even the driver can have in on the fun. Plug your phone up to the auxiliary outlet and let everyone listen in.