It seems like every year around this time, my skin is is less “pasty” than it is “on fire.” Summer’s spoils greatly outweigh its caveats, though, as fun can still be found under (and hidden from) the sun. If you’re reading this and your noggin just can’t reconcile the ideas of summertime and fun, perhaps your mind could use augmentation via a new and exciting technology. Called apps, or applications (for the layman), these mysterious gizmos offer users the ability to virtually perform everyday tasks such as writing, drawing, and cutting fruit with a katana. Having scoured the (worldwide!) web for those best suited for Austinites, the following list should help you fill your telephone and summer with fun and majesty.
Summer is known to be a time of trend-setting and socialization, despite the existence of Crocs. The iPhone was released more than five years ago and was heralded for its fusion of cellular and mp3-playing functionality, which is a trend that has blossomed since. Convenience is key in the mobile computing industry, and Flipboard similarly aims to unify users’ digital life by combining social networking feeds with world news and pop culture publications, all displayed in a lush magazine-style format. Flipboard seamlessly weaves your friends’ tweets, Facebook stories, and Instagram photos alongside posts from publishers such as the New York Times, Bazaar, and Colbert Nation. The result is a sleek and very intuitive digital magazine. Just last week, Better Homes & Gardens refused to publish a photo of my uncle drunkenly attempting to light a roman candle, despite the very scenic backdrop of his dingy patio. That photo of your lunch that you posted to Instagram is totally original, yet not to be found in the pages of Marie Claire. We have all wanted our summer exploits to be immortalized with their own 15 minutes of fame, why not frame your life in a magazine of your own?
If I had a nickel for every time I forgot to buy mosquito repellent, I would have enough money to buy my malaria medicine. While summer brings the joy of rambunctious play and ice covered with corn syrup, it also brings chores and heat rash. Any.DO can help with the former (note: apparently, virtual remedies for sunburn exist?), as it tops similar task-organization apps by offering cloud syncing and a streamlined interface. What’s more, Any.DO connects to Facebook, which enables you to pawn those pesky chores off to your BFF, though compliance isn’t guaranteed. So whether you need to remember to take your dog out for a walk, or to remind yourself that your dog hates the heat more than you do, Any.DO will prevail.
While summer nights are the year’s shortest, you wouldn’t assume as much given the bustling nightlife found throughout Austin. Despite the amount of entertainment we fit into our nights, it stands to reason that even more could be added. Thus enters Tabbedout, an app perfect for Austinites who value convenience as well as soirees. Using your smartphone to maintain and pay your tab may be a new concept to most, but its benefits are obvious. Monitoring your bill throughout your stay enables wiser spending decisions, and not leaving a physical card behind the bar will free up the many Saturday mornings owners spend hunting their plastics down. With participating bars and restaurants from Slaughter to Research, and a bevvy downtown, patrons citywide will enjoy the time they would normally be cashing out with further debauchery instead.
Available for iOS
Austin heat is something else. Besides melting ice cream and making little girls cry, its rays are debilitating and harsh. Certain radical groups have embraced the suns warmth, called “swimmers,” who aim to reduce its impact via submersion in liquid dihydrogen-monoxide. Known swimming spots are found throughout Austin, from Barton Springs Pool to Deep Eddy, but finding a unified guide has yet been improbable. That is, before Austin Swim. Relying on community input and an existing database, aquatic Austinites can certainly find new hotspots to cool off.
Volatile is a word rarely used to describe this city’s wonderful residents, yet tirelessly to classify its climate. On the way to the office today, I drove through three separate rainstorms. “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute” is the popular axiom, but wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to avoid antagonistic weather? If only those scientists in Washington, D.C. could fix this!
… oh. Apparently an entire discipline called “meteorology” exists, but how am I to know what the weather is going to be when I’m on the go? I’m a man about town! Luckily I found The Weather Channel’s app, which includes the data most weather apps do, but with a sleek UI and almost every weather statistic you could imagine. Precipitation? CHECK. Humidity? CHECK. Dew point? I don’t even know what that is, but CHECK. With location-services optional and many local hotspots pre-loaded, the only thing that can stop your river trip now is your annoying bro friend Mitch.
You don’t like going places do you? Going places can be expensive, and it can be fraught with social interaction. While Gas Buddy might seem to be a symptom of the latter quandary, it is in fact a solution to the former. Finding cheap gasoline is typically a task that leaves me in tears and cradling a portrait of Rex Tillerson, but Gas Buddy makes it easy with options for map- or list-view. I didn’t even know you could find gas for $3.03, but I didn’t know what a snooki was until last week.
So there you have it: apps. Once solely found in casual dining restaurant’s menus, they have proliferated to mobile platforms worldwide. While they won’t make your summer, they could certainly make it better. If only there was a blooming onion app…