Appy Holidays!

‘Tis the season to download these top picks 

By Margaret Kavanagh

If you give yourself one gift this year, it should be to put your smartphone to good use. We’re here to help you do that with a sack full of holiday goodies from talented app developers. Some are practical, some are fun, and all are sure to put you in the holiday spirit. So get ready to celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving and all the way through December.

SOCIAL EVENT APPS

Simple Soirée

Runs on: iPhone

Price: $1.99, StarRock Software

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My house – party central – woo hoo! No? You want to plan a classier, more dignified event? Either way, you need an app to help you do it all. This elegant solution does everything from create, send and track the guest invites, to make sure your décor is in place and the ice bucket stocked. A fully functional planner that takes the place of paper lists and sticky notes, this app is worth the price, but has a try-before-you-buy lite version, too.

Android users can try: Party Planner by Jimbl – $0.99

Blackberry users can try: Event Planning Checklist by GENOA net works – $1.99

Toast n Roast

Runs on: iPhone

Price: FREE, Craig Carter

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

When it’s your turn to make the toast at holiday dinner, be ready with this pocket pal full of customizable toasts that will up your debonair factor to 11. Plug in a few facts, such as the event type and your relationship with the host, and the perfect words instantly appear at your fingertips. Feeling cheeky? Select the “Roast” option for a humorous zinger, sure to get a good laugh. You’ve never been so charming — for free, anyway.

HOLIDAY CARD APPS

 

Christmas Lifecards

Runs on: iPhone

Price: $0.99, Vivid Apps

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Paper greeting cards are so 2010 (say the lazy people who don’t send thank-you notes either). This year, create a fun photo card you can email or share on Facebook, Flickr or Twitter. With more than 50 templates to start, you can customize fonts, colors, alignments and insert and tweak photos like a madman. The result is a one-of-a-kind card you can’t buy off the shelf. That should leave one, maybe two people on your list that you’ll need to snail mail (Uncle August, I’m looking at you).

Windows 7 Phone users can try: Classic Christmas Cards by Melon Mobile – $0.99

Android users can try: Best Greeting Cards by Swiss Codemonkeys – FREE

Postcards From Santa

Runs on: Android, iPhone

Price: FREE – $3.99, Camera Shoot Photo

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Even in today’s electronically driven world, kids believe in the old-fashioned magic of Santa. And Santa doesn’t use email. This sweet-minded app has you customize a real postcard that comes directly from Kris Kringle at the North Pole to your favorite youngster’s mailbox via snail mail. Download the free version and each postcard is $1.99, which includes printing and postage to anywhere in the world. Or, buy the $3.99 version with 2 postcards, and additional cards are just $0.99 each.

 

 

FOOD AND DRINK APPS

 

Mixologist Drink Recipes

Runs on: Android, iPhone

Price: $0.99 – $1.49, Digital Outcrop

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The best way to prepare for any holiday? With a drink, of course! (For some of us, anyway.)  Choose from nearly 8,000 drink recipes. Not sure which one to make? No problem. Enter your liquor cabinet contents and this app reveals what drinks you can make. It even points out nearby liquor stores and bars. The lite version, Mixology, is free/ad-supported.

Windows 7 Phone users can try: Mobile Bartender by LmOffice – Trial

Epicurious Recipes & Shopping List

Runs on: Android, iPhone, Windows 7 Phone

Price: FREE, Condé Nast Digital

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

If you expect holiday guests, they expect food — good food. Don’t panic, just call the caterers OR, even better (and cheaper), get this app from the pros at Condé Nast. Search through 30,000 professionally created, member-reviewed recipes for your holiday menu. Use the built-in shopping list to load your cart at the grocery store. Then, follow the step-by-step instructions with photos to prepare your eats. Finally, sit back and enjoy the compliments.

Country Living Holiday Cookies

Runs on: Android, iPhone

Price: $2.99, Hearst Communications

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Mmmm … cookies. What do you get when you take 50 of the best cookie recipes and put them in an app that tells you how to make them? I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear your answer because I was too busy eating cookies. I was also reading baking tips and cookie decorating tips. All right here in this pretty app with pictures of cookies in it. It’s a bit pricey for a baking app, but aren’t cookies worth it? Needs more holiday specific cookies, so it falls one star short.

 

 

GIFT GIVING APPS

 

WrapItApp

Runs on: iPhone

Price: $1.99, Vectorform LLC

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

If you’re buried under a load of wrapping paper and ribbon, maniacally trying to cut and tape everything you see, relax, there’s a better way. This ingenious app not only teaches you how to wrap and trim a gift, it tells you how much paper you’ll need to do it. Use your iPhone’s length or the onscreen ruler to measure the gift box, and everything is a snap from there. You’ll even learn how to tie a fancy bow. Brilliant — no more wasted paper! Future plans include other phone platforms.

Gift X-Ray

Runs on: iPhone

Price: FREE, Dream Injector LLC

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Is that sweater you’ve bought going to match up to what your significant other has lovingly placed under the tree for you? Find out with this super stealthy x-ray app. Use your phone’s camera to view the gift and see what’s lurking inside! No, not really, but you can have some fun with your gullible friends and family when you show them what your camera “sees.” Oops, watch out for that radiation! Just kidding. For entertainment purposes only. From the team that brought you the “Where Should I Put My Outhouse?” app.

FUN AND GAMES APPS

SpecTrek Lite

Runs on: Android, iPhone

Price: FREE, SpecTrek

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

What better way to scare off calories from your trick-or-treating haul than by chasing ghosts? Keep the Haloween spirit alive by chasing spirits of the dead with this super-fun, augmented reality ghost hunting game. This inventive app uses your GPS to locate “ghosts” and your job is to photograph them. You’ll have to hurry to catch them in action, though! Earn awards and hidden items, track your records and statistics, and have a whole lot of fun burning fat.

Ghost Radar®

Runs on: Android, BlackBerry, iPhone

Price: $0.99, Jack Jones

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

If you’d rather look for your own ghosts on All Hallows Eve, try out this eerie app designed to track paranormal activity around you. Ghost Radar utilizes your phone’s sensors to measure and “interpret” electromagnetic fields, sounds, and vibrations. Plus, it translates energy to words and says them out loud. Spooky — the coincidences are enough to freak me out. Check out the creator’s website (spudpickles.com) for users’ stories and judge for yourself.

Windows 7 Phone users can try: Ghost Detector HD by Best WP7 Apps – $0.99

The Mask

Runs on: Android

Price: FREE, Dreamer Bros.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

While you’re out on Halloween dragging the kiddies from door to door, you’re bound to run into one of those oh-so-funny neighbors asking, “Where’s YOUR costume?” Don’t let him get the last laugh. Just whip out your phone, hold it up to your face, and ta-da – your mask is ready.  Pick from blinking cartoon eyes, or scary monster mouths that react to your voice. (Also great for yelling in meetings.) Download extra mask packs for more options.

iPhone users can try: MouthOff by Ustwo – $0.99

Windows 7 Phone users can try: LipShtik by Odd I/O Software – $0.99

Turkey Calls

Runs on: iPhone

Price: FREE, Erick Smith

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The big draw on Thanksgiving is the turkey. And while I’m more than happy to accept it as-is on a platter, I do like to have a little fun at my family’s expense. Imagine this: every time Mr. Hungry peeks in the oven, he’s startled by a loud turkey gobble. Will it get old fast? Maybe, but there’s only way one to find out. Nice, clear calls with a good variety. Oh yeah, hunters will appreciate it pre-holiday, too.

Android users can try: Turkey Hunting Calls by Pico Brothers Ltd. – FREE

Droidel

Runs on: Android

Price: FREE, Triuna Software

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Oh dreidel dreidel dreidel, I made it out of … bits and bytes? Well, I didn’t, but thankfully, someone did, and this app is well-crafted and entertaining. This modern version of the ancient Hanukkah game allows up to 4 players to take turns spinning the top and betting on the outcome. It includes music, customizable game options and trackable spin statistics. It’s more fun than a pile of chocolate coins! Perfect for keeping the kids in the holiday spirit on the road or at home.

iPhone users can try: Super Dreidel by No Bars — $0.99

Talking Santa

Runs on: Android, iPhone

Price: $0.99, Outfit7

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

No one should be alone during the holidays, and now there’s no reason to be with Talking Santa. This adorable little fat man in the red suit is ready to keep you company at a moment’s notice. He’ll be your best bud, repeating everything you say, and he’ll take your abuse as you roll over him with a giant snowball. But don’t bug him too much, or he won’t give you presents. That’s right: presents! Download Santa because money CAN buy you happiness.

FirePlace

Runs on: iPhone

Price: $0.99, Toughturtle, LLC.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Fans of a certain age know Christmas wasn’t Christmas without the Yule Log on TV. Who can forget a crackling fireplace with carols playing in the background? Now you can bring back the memories with this fireplace app that comes with its own songs or lets you use your playlist. The author has included spooky music for Halloween use, and a full user’s manual is available online — a thoughtful touch that more developers should consider. Future plans include support for TV broadcast.

Android users can try: Ambient Fireplace by Infantry Company — FREE

Blackberry users can try: Fireplace Fire! By trustbe.com — FREE

Windows 7 Phone users can try: Christmas Fireplace by Ben Ellis Creative – $0.99

Christmas Carols

Runs on: iPhone

Price: $0.99, Internet Designs

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

There’s nothing to get you in the mood for Christmas like Christmas carols. Luckily, this app will fill the void when you don’t have access to a radio — or during the other 10 months of the year. And, when you forget the words to the 40 most popular carols after much-too-much eggnog, you’ll find them handily displayed for your reading pleasure. Adjustable font size means you’ll be able to see them, no matter how much rum cake you’ve devoured.

Android users can try: Christmas Carols by Fraga-games – FREE

Advent Calendar

Runs on: Android, iPhone

Price: FREE, MagicSolver

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

MagicSolver is updating their yearly Advent Calendar for 2011, much to our delight. Anticipation is the name of the game for traditional advent calendars, and this high-tech version doesn’t disappoint. Each December day, leading up to Christmas, you’re rewarded with a new free app, selected by developers as being the “best of the best.” That’s right — you’ll find 25 apps within this one app — all while listening to lovely holiday music. What’s not to love?

 

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About Erin Lang Masercola

As Business Unit Editorial Director at Beckett Media, I lead creative teams in technology, gaming, collecting, autos, home decor, outdoor sports, and more.

Posted on December 15, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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