The family holiday season is here, so it’s time to take a look at the top 5 sanity-saving Android apps, available on phones like the Samsung Galaxy S5 or the HTC One M8. There’s Kindle (which appears on these lists every year), Steam, Twitter, an Angry Birds game, and most useful of all, Google Maps, all of which perform sterling services in the cause of keeping people sane when trussed up in a holiday cottage with their family…
Ah, family holidays. The great British institution, unchanged throughout the annals of history, where a family locks themselves in a cottage for a week or two, or inexplicably tries to fit four people in a two-berth tent since it’s cheaper.
Mind you, some things have changed, over the years. For starters, a lot of holiday cottages now have WiFi (fun fact: and it’s a good job, too, or this author wouldn’t have been able to keep on writing articles!), and even if they don’t, mobile data’s got a lot more solid and reliable across the whole country since we were kids (not surprising in the case of this author, since he was a kid in the 80s; mobile data wasn’t even a pipe dream back then, it was just one thing on a long list of things that would forever be impossible).
Naturally, this means that there are now loads and loads of ways for people to stay sane on their family holidays (because while we do love our families to bits, being locked in a cottage with them for a week can send one a bit stir crazy).
And so, let’s take a look at the top 5 Android apps that have kept this author sane on his 2014 family holiday (although most of them are multi-platform, so they’ll keep you sane whether you’re using an Android phone like the Samsung Galaxy S5 or HTC One M8, an iOS device like the iPhone 5s, or a Windows phone).
Let’s start with me switching into first-person…
I know that I keep praising Kindle every year, but that’s because it’s still one of the most essential apps you could ever have on any phone, ever. With a lot of Kindle ebooks having brilliantly low prices, and different authors running free sales pretty much all the time, this is the perfect way to get some reading done while you’re on your hols.
Essentially, it’s like carrying an entire branch of Waterstones round in your back pocket, and thus, it’s awesome.
Earlier, I said that most of these apps were available on all three platforms. Well this is the one that’s not, as it’s only available on Android and iOS…
Valve’s Steam service is well-known in the world of gaming, but the thing with the Android/iOS app is that it’s not there for playing games; instead, it focuses on the social and commerce aspects of Steam, letting you chat with your Steam friends, or buy games ready to install when you get back to your PC (so that you don’t miss out if there’s a Steam Sale while you’re away).
I recently got into Twitter, as a way to promote my fledgling career as a science fiction author; now, though, I seem to have begun using it to Tweet pics of a peacock staring menacingly in the window of the holiday cottage. This is perfectly normal behaviour, and happens to every Twitter user ever…
4) Angry Birds Space
I don’t like long drives, and I’ve found that nothing passes the time better than a quick blast on an Angry Birds game, in this case Angry Birds Space (since it had been updated with some new ‘Red Planet’ levels that I hadn’t spotted till now). Mind you, they’re really not easy levels, so that kept the drive up interesting, at least.
5) Google Maps
Finally, we come to a sensible suggestion! Google has a beta version of Navigation built into Google Maps now, you see, and I’m not going to lie, it was brilliant. It was as accurate as some far more expensive sat-nav systems I’ve tried, and it didn’t drain the battery anywhere near as quickly as I was expecting.
So, while the other apps on this list were somewhat serious-but-at-the-same-time-silly suggestions, this one is a genuine, serious suggestion. Google Maps is, quite frankly, brilliant.
And there we have the top 5 Android apps that have kept me sane on my family holiday this year. Do you have your own suggestions for sanity-saving apps? Let us know!