Intro

Intro

It’s that time of year, when we trade the anxieties of daily life for a whole different set of pressures. From the horrors of shopping malls and interstate traffic to awkward conversations with that aunt no one wants to sit next to at the dinner table, the holidays can be a harrowing experience. To help you cope, we handpicked the 20 best apps to help you survive the season. From essential travel and cooking tools to fun ways to share photos and video chat with the fam, these are the downloads that will bring holiday cheer to your handset. 

Flighttrack (Free)

Flighttrack (Free)

Platforms: Android, Blackberry, iOS

Traveling during the holidays is stressful enough without having to worry about whether your flight is on time. FlightTrack provides users with real-time status updates for gates, delays, and cancellations at more than 5,000 airports around the world. With the app’s sharing feature, you can keep your family up to date with information about your flight through e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter.

Google Shopper (Free)

Google Shopper (Free)

Platforms: Android, iOS

Looking to save money on gifts this year? Google Shopper allows users to search the web for product deals directly from your smartphone. Scan a barcode or search for products by word or voice, and Google Shopper will give you information on the cheapest prices in your area. New to Version 2.0, Today’s Offers tells users about an individual deal for discounted goods or services in their area. Nearby Offers provides users with a list of offers in the Eat and Play categories available through nearby businesses.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas ($4.99)

How the Grinch Stole Christmas ($4.99)

Platforms: iOS

Dr. Suess’s book about the Grinch and his quest to ruin Christmas has been a holiday classic for years. The app offers users three ways to read, including Read to Me (which lets children listen to the narrated story), Auto Play (which plays the book like a movie), and the self-explanatory Read It Myself. The app also features picture and word association, which lets kids hear the names of on-screen objects that they touch. 

iMenorah ($2.99)

iMenorah ($2.99)

Platforms: iOS

You’re away from home, but you don’t want to miss out on the first night of Hanukkah. iMenorah lets users add a candle to the menorah for each night. Tap the Shamash (helper) candle to drag it across the screen and light the appropriate candle for the night. The app includes a counter for the number of candles that should be lit, and sings blessings in Hebrew. Best of all, the candles melt away over time. 

In the Kitchen ($1.99)

In the Kitchen ($1.99)

Platforms: Android, iOS

From Thanksgiving turkey to Christmas ham and latkes, the holiday season is all about good food. But if you’re not the best cook in your family, you might want to take a look at the Food Network’s In the Kitchen app. It features thousands of recipes from Food Network personalities—including Alton Brown, Paula Deen, and Guy Fieri—as well as shopping lists for each meal. You’ll be fooling people into thinking you can cook in no time. 

Cards (Free)

Cards (Free)

Platforms: Android, iOS

Sending embarrassing Christmas cards just got a whole lot easier. Apple’s new Cards app lets you design and send an actual card from your iPhone. Choose your own photo—preferably the one of you and your family in matching sweaters—and start designing. Once you’re finished, just enter the address where you want the card sent and you’re done. Sending a card within the U.S. will cost you $2.99. Mailing cards internationally will run you $4.99. 

Kindle App (Free)

Kindle App (Free)

Platforms: Android, Blackberry, iOS

Want to catch up on some reading during your oh-so-short holiday vacation? Amazon’s Kindle app offers users access to more than 1 million books and more than 100 newspapers and magazines to help you pass the time. Get the kids in the holiday spirit with favorites such as ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and Oh, Chanukah! Love tech? Check out Walter Isaacson’s new biography, Steve Jobs. 

Mint (Free)

Mint (Free)

Platforms: Android, iOS

All that traveling and gift purchasing can take a toll on your wallet. Mint by Intuit helps make sure that you don’t spend beyond your means. The app provides a summary of your current expenses and includes spending reports that can be separated into categories, such as entertainment and food. Users can link their bank accounts and credit cards to the app to see how much money they can spend and how much they owe, making it easy to create a budget and stick to it. 

Mixologist Drink Recipes (Free)

Mixologist Drink Recipes (Free)

Platforms: Android, iOS

If you’re having guests over for the holidays, it’s your duty to serve up the cocktails. Mixology Drink Recipes has recipes for more than 7,900 drinks, from eggnog to hot toddies. Its liquor cabinet feature lets you enter all the liquor and mixer types you have on hand, and it searches its database for all of the cocktails you can make with them. 

Netflix (Free app, monthly plans from $7.99/month)

Netflix (Free app, monthly plans from $7.99/month)

Platforms: Android, iOS

Traveling with kids is rough. But with the Netflix app for your tablet or smartphone, you can keep your little ones occupied with a host of holiday movies and TV shows during that long drive to your mother-in-law’s house. Traveling alone? Power up the app and start streaming such holiday favorites as A Christmas Story to pass the time during your flight or train ride. 

Pocket First Aid & CPR (Android: $2.99, iOS: $3.99)

Pocket First Aid & CPR (Android: $2.99, iOS: $3.99)

Platforms: Android, iOS

Accidents and emergencies happen no matter what time of year it is. Pocket First Aid & CPR from the American Heart Association helps ensure that you’re prepared for the worst. Detailed videos offer step-by-step instructions on how to deal with seizures, cuts, and choking, as well as how to administer CPR. iOS users can also save their medical information, including their doctor’s contact information, emergency contacts, allergies, and medications. 

Santa Tracker 2011 (Free)

Santa Tracker 2011 (Free)

Platforms: iOS

Let your kids follow the big man’s progress as he delivers presents across the globe with this iPhone and iPad app. A North Pole Blog, with more than 75 blog posts, will keep your children up to date with the latest happenings at Santa’s Workshop, while a Santa’s List feature allows you to choose if your child belongs on the naughty or nice list. Santa Text lets your kids send text messages to Jolly St. Nick and he’ll occasionally reply. 

Skype (Free)

Skype (Free)

Platforms: Android, BlackBerry, iOS

Not everyone is able to travel during the holidays. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t see your loved ones. Skype for laptop, smartphone, or tablet lets you video chat with family from anywhere. Have your family set up a Skype-enabled device in a heavily trafficked area in their home, and you can chat with different relatives as they pass by. Skype’s iPhone app now includes an anti-shake feature that reduces the effect of camera shaking during your video calls, although it only works on the rear camera. 

Sony Music Holiday Yule Log ($0.99)

Sony Music Holiday Yule Log ($0.99)

Platforms: iOS

Keep the tradition of singing Christmas carols around the Yule log alive with Sony’s Music Holiday Yule Log app. The app features a Yule log burning in a glowing fire and comes loaded with three holiday songs: “Jingle Bells,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” and “Jingle Bell Rock.” Tapping your tablet or phone’s touchscreen stokes the fire, making it crackle and glow. You can also send Yule log postcards to friends via e-mail or Facebook.  

Spotify (Free app, $9.99/month membership)

Spotify (Free app, $9.99/month membership)

Platforms: Android, iOS

Spotify gives you access to virtually any song imaginable via its web-based catalog, from holiday staples to Top 40 hits. Traveling? No need to worry, because Spotify Premium gives lets you sync playlists for offline listening. Plus, it’s easy to share what you’re listening to on Facebook. 

Swackett ($2.99)

Swackett ($2.99)

Platforms: iOS

Swackett provides a standard weather forecast with a twist. In addition to showing the usual temperature and chance of precipitation, it gives users an idea of how to best dress for the weather conditions, from wool hats to Bermuda shorts. It’s perfect for when you need to get the kids dressed in a hurry before running out the door for some last-minute shopping. Swackett’s forecast feature can also help you plan what clothes to bring with you on holiday vacations. Swackett is currently only available through the Mac App Store, but an iPad version is in the works. 

Tripit (Free)

Tripit (Free)

Platforms: Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Windows Phone

Taking a trip this holiday season? TripIt can help you stay organized. The app lets you forward confirmation e-mails for your flight information, hotel, and car rental reservations to plans @tripit.com. The service then puts everything together in an easy-to-follow schedule, complete with quick links for checking the flight status or getting directions to your destination from the airport. You can even share your itinerary with your Facebook and LinkedIn contacts. 

Verizon NFL Mobile (Free)

Verizon NFL Mobile (Free)

Platforms: Android, iOS

The NFL is playing 15 games between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but your parents’ house only has one TV and it’s been hijacked by your brother’s kids. Verizon’s NFL Mobile has you covered, giving you access to live games, the NFL Network, and NFL RedZone, so you can see when your favorite team is about to score. You’ll also get live in-game audio, a great way to pass the time until dessert.

Weight Watchers Mobile (Free app, Pointsplus membership required for tracking)

Weight Watchers Mobile (Free app, Pointsplus membership required for tracking)

Platforms: Android, iOS

Trying to stick to a diet when there’s so much delicious food around is a serious challenge. But with the Weight Watchers Mobile app, you can stay on track by keeping track of the food you eat and how many points you consume. Weight Watchers’ PointsPlus program members can track their total points usage and map their weight on an interactive graph. Automated reminders notify users of the number of points they have left.

Time 2Do

Time 2Do

Platforms: iOS

With so many things to do over the holidays, it’s nice to get a reminder or two (or three) for the remaining tasks and shopping. 2Do, one of the best-rated to-do-list apps out there, lets users share their lists with most of their devices, including PCs through Microsoft’s Outlook. You can also sync events with your iPhone and Google calendar.