Whether you’re doing a little last minute shopping, planning the easiest route home, cooking up a storm on Christmas morning or in charge of making the cocktails on New Year’s Eve, there’s no shortage of mobile apps that can ensure the festive season passes without incident.
This selection of smartphone accouterments will ensure you survive the build-up, the main event and the aftermath with your sanity, bank balance and even your trim waistline in tact. We’ve even got a solution that’ll ensure you can endure your relatives without reaching for the turkey fork Sons of Anarchy style…
Keeping track of your online gift purchases can be confusing and time consuming, while we’ve all played the tracking number lottery in the hope the gifts arrive on time. Slice offers a solution by handily keeping everything in one place. It’ll tell you what you’ve bought, where you’ve bought it and when it’s going to arrive. No more jumping between retailers, couriers and email receipts. There’s even an Ebenezer theme for you Scrooge’s out there. It’s Christmas streamlined.
Seeing your bank balance dissipate when you know your paycheck has to last until the end of January can be a depressing experience. However, one has to be grateful for small mercies, such as those offered by the Quidco app. The UK’s pre-eminent cashback portal allows you to glean back a few percent of the purchase price every time you use the app as a middleman. You’ll also get rewards for checking in at physical stores and can pick up cashback by shopping on the high street. Who knows? By the end of the festive season you may have amassed enough cash to stave off bankruptcy until next Christmas.
Let’s face it; no-one is as jolly as Chris Rea when driving home for Christmas. There’s black ice on the roads, long traffic jams and the radio won’t stop playing Mariah bloody Carey. Help is at hand through the Waze traffic app, which collates crowd-sourced data, offers real-time traffic and road conditions information and will automatically reroute you if there’s trouble ahead. You can also use the app to send friends and family an “I’m on my way” message complete with an ETA. With the Waze in your locker, you’ll make it back home in time to find out whodunit on Eastenders.
While writing this article we could barely think straight due to Christmas tasks weighing upon us. Then we remembered we had Wunderlist on our phone. This all encompassing, simple and elegantly designed ‘to-do list’ app tore through the stress like a 7-year-old through wrapping paper. Available freely on the major platforms and syncing across all of them so you can start a list on your PC and read it on your phone while you’re out shopping. Wunderlist also makes it easy to create lists and set reminders, brings Google Now integration on Android and Notification Centre widgets within iOS.
This time of year, it’s so easy to go over budget and start the New Year in a financial hole. Whether it’s those extra stocking fillers or the post-work pints staying within one’s means is notoriously difficult. The brand new Pennies app will allow you to set budgets for presents, food and alcohol, check in the amount every time you spend and instantly see the remaining budget. Another neat tool enables you to preview the impact a purchase will have on your budget before you do so, which could convince you to exorcise some restraint before handing over the plastic.
If you don’t have a stove full of pans and a desperate need for extra shelves in the oven you’re doing Christmas dinner wrong. However, with all of those different elements (literally) on the go, it’s easy to lose track of time and end up with torched turkey. The £1.49 KitchenPad for iOS is the perfect remedy for culinary chaos as it allows you to name and set up to 9 separate timers for each pan, complete with temperature requirements. It’ll even deliver push notifications if the app is running in the background.
GPS navigation apps allow you to focus on the driving rather than messing about with the touchscreen. SideChef takes that concept and applies it to cookery. The new app talks you through the various steps with audio commands and photos. So, if you’re elbow-deep in a Christmas cake mix you don’t have to maul your touchscreen in order to swipe around the recipe. It’ll even respond to your voice commands to supplement that hands-free experience and allow you to leave that old cookbook on the shelf.
Nothing says ‘British family Christmas’ like an almighty fall-out. Whether it’s the UKIP-supporting cousin or the know-it-all sibling, the close proximity with family members often seems to spark a battle royal. So, instead of waiting for the inevitable, why not take a different approach in 2014 with the Calm app. It offers 7 guided meditation sessions from 2-30 minutes, for use whenever you need a break. Now you can let that comment about “sending them all back” wash over you like a warm ocean breeze.
There’s nothing more awkward than receiving a fantastic present from a friend or relative, when you’ve only bought a token gift in return. If this happens to you this Christmas Day, you can rely on Groupon to help you save face. Whether it’s a discounted paintball experience, a cut-price spa day or the promise of a date night at your favourite restaurant, this app can help you reach present parity. Deals bought from the app can be instantly sent as gifts, so the discomfort is soon relieved. Plus, there’s the satisfaction of a bargain buy at the most expensive time of the year. Bonus.
If you’re the lucky recipient of a new iOS or Android device, one of your first ports of call should be to download the digital edition of your favourite tech mag. It’s packed with interactive content, smart galleries and video content. It’s available on the App Store and Google Play and subscriptions start at just £7.99 a month.
Carrot Fit Free
Around the 28th those feelings of exercise guilt could start to kick in. However, it’s damn cold outside, Bond is on telly and there’s still loads of Quality Street left. If you find yourself favouring the new slippers over the trainers then it might be time time for some tough love. Once you’ve downloaded Carrot fit, you’ll enter your = weight loss goals and you’ll be told, in no uncertain terms how to reach them. If you fail to oblige, you’ll be shamed with obscene weight estimates and avatars. Think Private Pyle in Full Metal Jacket-style abuse and you won’t be far off.
New Year’s Eve is almost always a gigantic let down, so planning a great party on December 31 comes with great responsibility. However, you can at least ensure the beverages go down well with this iOS guide to creating tasty Prohibition-era cocktails. This Betterbook title features 90 minutes of HD video instruction, photos and slideshows while you can access 200 recipes from leading mixologists. You can tap on any ingredient, technique or tool in order to get a pop up guide.