9 Mobile Apps for the Holiday Season

December 15, 2011

2:30 pm

It’s that time of the year again.  2011 is rapidly approaching our rearview mirror, and as we transition from one year to the next, the holiday seasons marks a time to spend time with loved ones, snuggle up next to the fireplace, reflect on the year’s events, and of course to indulge recklessly.  And to make this holiday season the most efficient, effective, and enjoyable experience possible, I have curated a list of nine mobile apps to help you accomplish just this.

Santa Tracker:

Someone recently tried to make the blasphemous accusation that Santa Claus was in fact a fictional character.  My worries were quickly squashed upon downloading Santa Tracker; a “7 app in one” Christmas-themed iPhone app.  Not only does Santa Tracker offer a real-time GPS tracker of Mr. Kris Kringle himself on Christmas Eve, but the app also includes a countdown ’til Christmas, a biometric finger scan indicating if the user is naughty or nice, the latest Santa sighting pictures, amongst other features.  Maybe this will be the year that we finally track him down and prove all the naysayers wrong.  Also, fun for the kids.

Availability: iPhone

Price: $0.99

SNOCRU:

For some, the holidays symbolize a time to shovel snow, turn the car on 15 minutes prior to driving, and the constant threat of an ice-induced fender bender.  For others, it’s the season to shred some gnar pow (to ski or snowboard, for those who don’t speak mountain-ese).  SNOCRU is a full-feature, snowsports app that allows users to easily chat with their friends out on the slopes, as well as find and interact with other nearby riders.

SNOCRU partner Steve Metcalf says that “this is the very essence of the micro social movement. We’ve created a social network for people of similar interests and include everything they need to enhance that experience.”  Included in this is a dashboard with a user’s stats, including max speed, distance, vertical elevation change, altitude, and GPS coordinates.  Another cool feature: the resort’s link from the homepage will populate a list of all the local resorts, including maps, recent snowfall, temperature, and deals.  Best of all, SNOCRU is free.  Check it out.

Availability: iPhone; Android coming soon

Price: Free

Red Stamp:

Do you love sending holiday cards to friends and family but don’t share this same affinity for dealing with the post office?  Me too.  Good news, Red Stamp is here for us.  Formerly a print only greeting card company, Red Stamp has recently shifted operations solely toward their mobile apps.  In looking at the data, the concept makes sense.  This year, the post office expects to send 2.7 billion letters during the holiday season.  Just three years ago, that figure was 700 million higher.

With a nice selection of holiday related cards, including Christmas and Hanukkah-specific designs, you can either add a photo from your phone’s library, snap a shot with the built-in camera, or pull directly from Facebook or Instagram albums, and within seconds text or e-mail to loved ones or share via Facebook or Twitter.

For those who aren’t ready to make the leap exclusively to digital cards this year, fear not – you can send an actual postcard via snail mail directly through the app as well (starting at $1.99).  This app is currently only available for iOS.  Android users, check out Sincerely Ink.

Availability: iPhone

Price: Free

FastMall:

For many, the holidays are code for the mall, which in turn is code for headache.  You’re looking for the most efficient experience possible.  You’ve got your list, you know which stores you want to go to, you want to get in and out, and to be done with that sea of insanity as quickly as possible.  Well my friend, FastMall is the app for you.

With FastMall, you can run a search of the local malls in your area, download your chosen mall’s store layout (more than 1,250 in their database), and browse a list of current discounts being offered (note: the malls closest to me didn’t have any at the time of writing this).  My favorite feature allows you to use your GPS in order to tag where you’ve parked your car and include a message with more specific details, if necessary.

Availability: iPhone, Andriod

Price: Free

Hello Vino:

Let’s face it, for most, the holidays marks a time for (over) indulgence.  This applies to our desire for comfort food and sweets as much as it does alcoholic beverages.  After all, Grandma’s rosy cheeks are an even mixture of love and wine.  That’s why if you want to bring the perfect bottle of wine to the family party this year, you’ll need to download Hello Vino first.

The next time you’re at the local liquor store, simply snap a picture of the wine label that’s grabbed your attention, and Hello Vino will offer tasting notes, reviews, and the proper food pairings.  Or, if you want to get the perfect wine for that turkey dinner, simply input your dinner’s main course and Hello Vino will offer a list of suggested wines to match.  Not a wine drinker?  Browse through the +7,500 drink recipes the the Mixology app has to offer. 

Availability: iPhone, Android

Price: Free

The Habit Factor® (Daily Habits and Goals Tracker):

At the turn of each new year, many of us take time to reevaluate where we are in our lives and contrast this with where we would like to be.  For those who take these new year’s resolutions seriously, you’ll want to consider downloading The Habit Factor’s Daily Habit and Goal Tracker productivity app.

Based off of the principles from Martin Grunburg’s self-help book of the same name, this app offers those looking to achieve their goals an interactive and effective way to do so. With this app, you can set the frequency of the habit that you’re hoping to accomplish (e.g. once a day, once per week), chart your progress, and incorporate pictures to aid in your inspiration (e.g. your fat picture from the previous beach getaway).

For those interested in learning more on The Habit Factor’s methodology, you can watch Grunburg’s TEDx Talk from earlier this year. 

Availability: iPhone, Android

Price: $6.99

RunKeeper:

To play-off the previous write-up, it comes as no surprise that many of our new year’s resolutions have to do with shedding extra pounds.  It’s all the vino.  Well the new year marks a new beginning, new pair of running shoes, and a new exercise regimen.  Enter RunKeeper.  This exercise tracking app utilizes your phone’s built-in GPS system to track your specific route, distance, and workout statistics, including calories burnt.

If you’re serious about your goals, nothing works better than accountability.  Publicly state how much weight you’d to lose (and the date you’d like to lose them by), and then use RunKeeper to post your workouts directly to Facebook and/or Twitter so friends can check in on you.  One of my personal favorite features is the audio cues that indicate how long you’ve been running (or biking, hiking, or riding), how far you’ve gone, your pace, and average heart rate.

Availability: iPhone, Android, Windows, Nokia

Price: Free

Fitness Buddy:

For those who are setting fitness and weight loss goals, but would rather watch C-SPAN than take up cardio, may I suggest Fitness Buddy.  This app offers detailed instructions for more than 1,000 different exercises, 75+ workout routines, and a visual body metric tracking system.

A cool feature of Fitness Buddy allows you to select the goal you’d like to achieve (e.g. lose weight, build big chest, tone the booty), and it offers the appropriate workout regimen based on these specific desires.  You can track progress by inputting your workout specifics (e.g. exercise weight x reps x sets) and chart this over time to provide the positive feedback that comes from improvement, thus encouraging you to stick to your goal.

Fitness buddy is offering a “limited introductory sale price” of 50% off, so you may want to consider getting a head start on your new year’s resolution.

Availability: iPhone

Price: (currently) $0.99

Calorie Tracker:

For those looking to expedite their weight loss goals through incorporating a healthy diet, there is Calorie Tracker.  This calorie input/output measurement application, brought to you by the Lance Armstrong Foundation’s Livestrong, allows you to search through a database of more than 600,000 food and restaurant items to get detailed nutrition information of your daily food intake.  You then get a daily total of your calorie intake compared to your output level, offering a net calories consumed.

If at the end of the day there’s a negative sign in front of the number, you have lost weight (or so the theory goes).   Input your daily weight measurements to track your progress.  Suggestion: wait until after the holidays to use the application, as you’re better off not knowing how many calories are in mom’s stuffing.  Ignorance is bliss.

Availability: iPhone, Android, Windows, Nokia

Price: $2.99 (free for Windows and Nokia)

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When Zach Davis isn’t getting lost in the mountains, he is hustling from Boulder, CO as Tech Cocktail’s Director of Marketing. He is the author of Appalachian Trials, a book chronicling the mindset necessary for thru-hiking all 2,181 miles of the Appalachian Trail, a feat he accomplished in 2011. Zach is a green tea enthusiast, die-hard Chicago sports fan, and avid concert-goer. Follow Zach on Twitter: @zrdavis.

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