We have all been there. You are sitting alone in a plane, train or automobile without anyone to talk to and you are bored. As the pangs of frustration and unrest begin to be too much, you reach for your phone or tablet in the hope of some light relief. By the time boredom has taken hold, you probably won’t care what sort of app you can access, but if you are canny enough to think ahead then you can pass the time in a variety of interesting ways.
Whether that means boosting your brainpower or the size of your wallet, there are now thousands of downloadable options for you as the mobile traveler. But which ones are the best?
While it would be remiss of us to suggest we have come up with a definitive list of boredom-busting apps, we do think our five choices (both free and paid for) cover a broad spectrum of genres. Plucked from the fields of gaming, culture and education, our top-five apps to pass the time should give you enough things to do on any journey where alone time is not your friend.
What it Does: Anyone who had a Nokia phone in the late Nineties and early 2000s will remember Snake. The basic premise of the game was simple. You had to guide a black line around the screen and eat round circles. Every piece of food the snake ate, the longer it grew and so it became increasingly difficult to manoeuvre. Although Grub is not an official descendant of Snake, it is the same game but in a new format. Reconfigured in 3D and with colour, the game puts you in charge of a continually hungry and ever-growing grub.
Why it is Useful: There are few more simple games than Grub and this is about as addictive as they come. However, aside from giving players an easy game to master and endless hours of fun, Grub conjures up images of childhood memories and that is priceless. Having the ability to play a game you probably played as a teenager but in a new setting is a great way to pass the time.
PokerStars Mobile App
What it Does: If you have ever played games such as queen slots with your friends around the dinner table or in a local casino then you will know it is one of the most exciting games you can play. Since online poker became a booming industry, the biggest operators have worked hard to develop their mobile products. At PokerStars, you can play all manner of games on the move via your iOS or Android device. Thanks to swipe technology, you can move between tournaments, cash games and sit & go tournaments with ease. Not only that but you can make deposits and cash out your winnings thanks to a secure cashier system.
Why it is Useful: Whether you have tried Texas Hold’em (the variant most people have played), Omaha, Draw or Stud, poker offers a great way to test your powers of logic, cognition and persuasion. In fact, it is a common phrase in the poker world that it is a pursuit that takes a minute to learn, but a lifetime to master. This dynamic is perfect for someone stuck on a long journey. Within a few minutes, you could be anteing-up via PokerStars’ mobile app and get into the swing of the action. Regardless of whether you play for free (virtual chips) or real money, the game will keep you amused for hours as you try to master its subtleties.
Sonic Jump Fever
What it Does: Take the most famous blue hedgehog in the world and picture him in a platform-style game. Now you have Sonic Jump Fever. Available on iOS and Android, this platform game allows you to take the speedy hedgehog through a series of levels filled with flying bats and exploding bombs. Although some of the elements of the original Sonic the Hedgehog game have been left out, you can enter fever mode which is similar to the invincibility Sonic used to achieve after hitting special symbols.
Why it is Useful: Computer games may have evolved into highly complex offerings over the last few years, but there is no denying that platform games are the best way to have a good time. Whether it is Super Mario or Sonic in a new light, platform games are highly addictive and, moreover, perfectly packaged for mobile devices. The swipe and touch set-up of iOS and Android devices makes these platforms a great way to tap and glide through platform games, such as Sonic Jump Fever.
What it Does: If you do not want to purchase a Kindle to go alongside your iOS or Android device then you can simply download the company’s app. Free to install and providing direct access to Kindle’s massive library of online books, the app cannot quite replicate the Kindle’s anti-glare screen (although some iPads do have this ability), but it can provide a great way to enjoy some of the best fiction and non-fiction titles in the world.
Why it is Useful: A long journey is one of the best times to expand your horizons and if you have a few hours to kill on your own then you need to get the Kindle app. Our recommendation would be to get a mixture of fiction and non-fiction books from Amazon’s range of free products to start with. After you have a grip on how the technology works, then you can start purchasing some of the more expensive titles.
What it Does: For those who like to learn but do not enjoy reading, the TED app is a portal to some of the finest minds in the world. Whether you are into sports, magic, technology, science or history, there will be a talk from a bright spark within the app. Each talk usually takes around 10-15 minutes, which means you will have plenty of time to squeeze in a host of information during your journey. What makes this app even better is that it is free!
Why it is Useful: TED talks are performed by experts and they give you a wealth of information in a digestible form. The main premise of each talk usually centers on one topic so it is easy to retain the information. As with the Kindle app, learning is the main reason to download the TED app. If you want to turn your boredom into knowledge, then get the app and turn a terrible journey into a fulfilling one.