Summer is near, and whether you’re planning a trip, planning a workout or just planning to go outside, there are some great apps that can help you in all your summer-related endeavors. All of these are free to download and available for iOS and Android.
Category: Geographic Event Sharing
Great for: Ending the summer activity slump: “What do you want to do today?” “I don’t care, what do you want to do?” “I don’t care.”
Now is a data-collecting visual representation of events. It syncs social media posts from Instagram, Vine and others to track and pinpoint the most popular events by location. For instance, if a bunch of people downtown are uploading pictures, hashtagging and posting video about the same thing, that’s probably a thing you want to get a piece of, and Now will let you know the details. You can organize your live Now feed by attendees, photos, buzz words, or location, and sync with your Instagram account to easily share your summer fun with friends. This app is an incredible cloud-powerhouse in your pocket, and I could see it being extremely useful when deciding how to spend an afternoon on vacation in a place where you maybe don’t know the cool places to hang out. Beware #latergrams! The app doesn’t have a way to sort those out yet, and you don’t want to show up to a place only to find out that you missed the fun.
Category: Specialty Maps
Great for: Hikers, boaters, bird watchers, spelunkers, runners, speed walkers, bikers, climbers, golfers, skaters, swimmers and other outdoor enthusiasts.
There are a lot of park-finding, activity-organizing apps out there, but Oh, Ranger! is a unique resource as far as its accuracy and versatility. Users can search either by activity (choose from about 40 options) or by zip code to find parks within a customizable range. It’s easy to read reviews, access the parks website or apply for a permit if you’re planning to camp, boat or hunt. This app is the ultimate answer to the question, “Do you know a place around here where we can spelunk/swim/fish/Frisbee golf/whatever activity?” You can also sync your account to Facebook and check into parks directly through the app. With so many beautiful parks in Bellingham (1,400 within 100 miles of the city, according to the app), you’ll want to take full advantage this summer.
- Water Your Body
Category: Health and performance
Great for: Runners, gym rats, sunbathers, disc golfers and human beings in general.
Water Your Body is an interactive app that helps you track your water consumption throughout the day. Enter your weight and the app calculates how much water you need for the day. The main screen is a graphic of a kitchen table – after you hydrate, you can select the amount in ounces and tap the table to add your drink. A little water bottle or glass of water appears with a time stamp to track your intake. This is a neat way to visualize your hydration pattern. A secondary screen charts your intake on a line graph and gives you a grade (A through F) for the day. You can set the app to send you notifications to remind you to hydrate, but generally it’s pretty nonjudgmental for a health/fitness app. Dehydration is a common ailment during the summer months – save yourself the headache and develop good habits with Water Your Body.
- Bandsintown Concerts
Category: Music/Activity Recommendation System
Great for: Concert junkies, music lovers, people who already have a bunch of music apps
This app does require a sign-in to use, but it’s totally worth it: Bandsintown tracks the data from your music libraries – Pandora stations, Spotify playlists, even Twitter – to compile a synced list of your interests all on one page. The list orders artists by relevance in your libraries, and then you can tap them to view concerts in your area. The app also makes recommendations (pretty good ones, too) based on what you already like. You can set a geographic radius for the app to search concerts and set your notifications to sync with your calendar so you never miss a gig. This app is the essential organizer for summer concert-goers.
- Gas Buddy
Category: Community Resource
Great for: Road-trippers working on a budget, travelers trying to avoid the horror-movie scenario of being lost and out of gas (“Let’s just walk into town – what’s the worst that could happen?”)
If you’re like me, and have a big car and a little bank account, you go wherever gas is cheapest. Gas Buddy tracks submissions from users to map gas prices in your area, so you can find the closest/cheapest/best gas for your car. To incentivize accurate reports from users, Gas Buddy will enter you into daily contests to win gas money in exchange for reporting prices. The app also allows you to calculate trip costs, find gas stations far from home and connect with fellow travelers. It’s the perfect summer road trip companion for frugal (and safe!) travel.