Whether it’s at the actual bus stop, or somewhere completely different, you’ve probably experienced a time when there’s a need for casual entertainment to while away the minutes. Boredom is a horrible plague that normally seems uncureable. But, with the dawning of smartphone apps, an entire gaming and entertainment system is built right into a device you take around with you every day.
The Android Market hosts a selection of application categories that can aid your boredom-fighting times, including games, entertainment applications and media. In this review, we’ll be covering some of our favourite apps from these categories in order to banish boredom forever!
When you’re waiting for your bus, you may choose to use a game as your primary entertainment source. Luckily, a bunch of high-profile developers boarded the good ship Android bringing their popular games with them.
Our Favourite: Angry Birds
Naturally, our favourite is the phenomenal success that is Angry Birds, a simple game that centres around some disgruntled avians. For those who currently reside under some sort of rock, the aim of the game is to destroy pigs with a set of birds that are catapulted into action.
DoodleJump is another hit game which consists of the DoodleJump-er going from platform to platform, whilst avoiding monsters and accessing power-ups. The game is entertaining but does not require a lot of time to play. There’s no specific “goal”, other than a personal aim to achieve high scores by gaining height.
Fruit Ninja is the iconic fruit-slicing game where the player aims to cut as many items of fruit as possible. The gameplay is charmingly simple as you start slicing the food with your finger, like a true ninja.
The game is a true pickup-and-play style application that’s easy enough to launch whilst waiting for your bus. There are three gameplay styles so you can choose how you play and change between games.
Bejeweled 2 is another icon mobile game that made it’s way onto Android with EA. The real goal of the game is to match gems of a similar type in order to “burst” them and move on. It’s another arcade-style game that’s a great choice for all waiting scenarios.
Shift is a puzzle-platformer game. You play as an “experiment” with the aim to escape, in a similar fashion to its web counterpart. The namesake feature flips the entire screen upside-down, turning floors into ceilings to help you reach your goal. Darren Meehan reviewed Shift recently here at Android.AppStorm.
Whilst not as high-profile as the games above, They Need To Be Fed is a great little game that reminds me a little of Little Big Planet. Your basic aim is to go through the levels and feed the “monsters” in a world without gravity.
Reviewers – consumers and pros alike – have praised the game for its short, but fun gameplay.
Like Bejeweled, Tetris is another product of EA’s mobile team and is based on the popular retro arcade game. The gameplay mechanics are just like the original game where a player must complete “lines” to abolish them without building blocks up to the top of the screen. However, the mobile game adds new power-ups and gameplay modes.
Tetris on Android is fun, and different, and an “absolute essential” according to EA.
Ever wanted to experience of being an air traffic controller? Well, now you can… on your phone. Flight Control is a simple game where the player must guide planes and helicopters to different runways in order to land without crashing.
PAC-MAN. Is there really any need to explain what it is?
Okay, I should probably elaborate. In PAC-MAN, the player controls a yellow circle with a mouth who must consume various dots on the board whilst avoiding the infamous ghosts. This retro game is a must have, though a little more expensive than most other games at $4.99.
Like They Need To Be Fed, Squibble reminds me much of the platformer Little Big Planet. It’s one of those games that’s “easy to learn but hard to master”. The overall gameplay goal is to grabble between platforms whilst avoiding the threats spread throughout levels. The graphics are credited as making this game a success, as are the responsive controls.
This indie game centres around an orange square which must travel along the level, missing obstacles and hitting targets. The application is insanely simple yet insanely addictive and has already been a hit on the iOS platform.
Everyone loves gears, no? Well now you can have them on your phone! Geared for Android is a puzzle game that gets the user to complete the mechanism in order for the gears to work. Naturally, as you progress through 150 levels, they get harder and more complicated.
Paper Toss, from the creators of the previously mentioned NinJump, is another simple game with a simple aim: toss paper into a bin. Surely, this office chore cannot be fun? Somehow Backflip have made it so, across both the iOS and Android platforms.
So, if you’re in an office and want to kill time, do so without killing trees. Toss virtual paper on your phone.
Tic Tac Toe, or Noughts and Crosses, is a game recognised by many. A 3×3 grid plays host to a bunch of noughts and crosses, one symbol per player, which aim to get three of themselves in a row. Achieving three of the same symbol in a row – either vertically, horizontally or diagonally – means you win the game.
The advantage of playing this on a mobile device means you can compete against your CPU without the need for a second person. Perfect for lonely waits at the bus stop!
Whilst there is tons of other games, it’s time to move onto another category of applications: entertainment. These applications are unlike games because they fit into all sorts of genres. Everything from geocaching to talking animals.
Geocaching is a pastime that’s not unlike treasure hunting. The idea is that a person will place a cache and then log it into an application or website, for another person to find at a later date. Geocaching, from Groundspeak, is an aptly named application that directly accesses geocaching.com’s database of caches.
You never know what might be hidden around you. There could be a cache to find right near your bus stop.
You’ve finished whatever you do and it’s getting dark. Waiting at your bus stop in the ever-growing darkness, you’re a little frightened so why not grab your phone and listen to some calming music? Hell no! Let’s go all Ghostbusters and find some paranormal beings!
Ghost Radar, apparently, analyses nearby energies to detect paranormal activity. Being in the Entertainment category – instead of Utilities – indicates this is another “fool your friends” style game.
Envious of those iPad owners with their GarageBand app? Don’t be! Solo is a guitar simulator that allows you to make music whilst waiting for your bus, in line at Starbucks, or sitting at home. The popular virtual guitar includes a selection of instruments to customise your track.
Our Favourite: Androidify
Back in February, I reviewed this fun application that allows you to create your own Android logo. You can completely redesign the Android logo changing its dimensions, altering its skin (or metal, since it’s a robot?) tone, and adding clothing.
It’s an especially fun application that I love, and I have been using the result as my Twitter and Gravatar profile images since then.
If a game isn’t doing it for you, maybe try out some good ol’ scripted entertainment. Android hosts a selection of music and video applications that can even be used in connection with other apps on this list.
For those who have a Spotify premium account, the official Spotify application for Android allows you to stream music to your phone. Your playlists are also brought across, allowing you to play music offline without any internet connection. Check out our guide to Spotify.
An alternative streaming service to Spotify is Pandora. Pandora creates a personalised radio station that streams music you like to your device. Unlike Spotify, however, this is a free application that does not require any premium subscription. Only snag is this is US-restricted so listeners in countries like the United Kingdom will have to stick with their own exclusive, Spotify.
Unlike Spotify and Pandora, TuneIn Radio is a traditional radio application that streams popular radio channels. Instead of picking your own content, in TuneIn Radio you, quite literally, “tune in” to live, local and global radio stations, including ones from the BBC and NPR.
Google Reader is a hybrid RSS reader/audio streamer. If you add podcast feeds to your Google Reader account, Listen will pull the audio links from them and offer streaming.
Since Google doesn’t have the same podcast ecosystem as Apple do, this is a valuable alternative if you’re a heavy listener and a great way to spend your time, if you don’t want to stream music.
Our Favourite: BBC iPlayer
This is an application that’s more useful on the bus, especially during long journeys. UK users can use the BBC iPlayer application to stream content from the last seven days of programming to their to catch up or re-watch missed shows. Like TuneIN Radio, you can also listen to live radio streaming of BBC channels.
Reading and Other Entertainment
If you don’t feel like investing in a game and don’t want to stream some music, there’s a few other time-passing entertainment applications that don’t fit into the categories above.
Google Reader is the official application for Google’s RSS reader and allows you to follow, and keep track of, your favourite blogs. It syncs directly with the web version, so if you read a post on your phone, it won’t appear again on any other platform or on the web.
Our Favourite: Pulse
Pulse is an alternative RSS reader for if you don’t fancy Google’s service. Instead of the standard text-oriented view, this reader is a lot more image-centric by showing a thumbnail for every post. Although you can import feeds from Google Reader, unfortunately there is no option to sync.
Kindle for Android is Amazon’s official application for reading Kindle books without the device itself. The application supports both paid and free books plus magazine and newspaper subscriptions.
Amazon Whispersync also synchronises bookmarks, notes and last page read across device so it’s easy to share your reading between different platforms. This means that if you do have a Kindle but left it at home, you won’t lose your place by reading on your phone.
The New York Times application provides an excellent source of news whilst waiting for your morning bus ride. This application, however, is subject to the NYTimes’s recent paywall.
A tablet version is also available as a separate app.
Twitter fits onto this list since it’s a great alternative to an RSS reader, with a great amount of diversity – if you follow the right people. Find the official Android.AppStorm Twitter account at @droidappstorm, and a list of all our Twittering authors here.
Like Twitter, Facebook can be a real source of news, reading, and media that is curated by your list of friends. For some, a series of intellectual news posts can be aggregated in your news feed. For others, it’s a great source of drunken photos from the night before.
Read It Later is an attractive application that allows you to save articles and blog posts for reading later, even without any Internet connection. It makes this list not only due to its useful functionality, but also its coincidental reference to morning commuting. Find out more in our full review.
For one final application, let’s take a look at an application already reviewed here. This one’s for your bus ride, rather than the prior wait.
Don’t Miss Your Stop! makes sure you never, well, miss your stop. It uses GPS and direction information to calculate your route and alert you when you’re near your stop. Very useful if you often end up falling asleep on a long bus ride!