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Every year, the sun returns from its winter hideout to zap you with magic rays that shrink clothes, shutter schools, and force BBQ in your face. Summer is, in a word, awesome. What's even more awesome is how social media makes connecting with friends and partaking in all summer has to offer easier than ever. Here are some of the best apps for Android and iOS to help you do this season right.
There are dozens of weather apps out there. Your smartphone probably even came preinstalled with one. And to be honest, they will all deliver the basics. However, one app has been getting a lot of well-deserved attention, but not necessarily for its more precise forecasts.
BeWeather (free, for Android) is, admittedly, a prime case of style over substance. The free version of the app offers hourly and weekly forecasts for multiple locations, extreme weather alerts, and local radar animations. Nothing special. However, this app (originally designed for Blackberry) does come loaded with beautiful HD animations in the background. Checking the weather becomes an oddly mesmerizing experience. Purely from an aesthetic point of view, this meteorological app is the way to go.
The Weather Channel app (free, for iPhone and iPad, and Android) is also a great pick for forecasting. It boasts new features like saved favorite locations, hour-by-hour details, and easy-share capabilities.
These events attract a largely youthful, tech-savvy demographic who have developed their own apps. Festival apps can vary widely in their offerings, from line-up info to streaming media content. They are usually free, and therefore probably worth downloading if you plan on attending a big gathering. However, if any app functions require an internet connection, there's a good chance they won't work during the actual festival. When thousands of people gather in one location, systems can get jammed and you will have spotty — if existent — coverage.
If you plan to partake in any festivals this summer, check on the festival's website, iTunes, or Google Play to see if an official app is available. There are far too many to give a complete list here, but some notable offerings from upcoming established fests are Bonnaroo, (free, for iPhone/iPad and Android); Warped Tour (free, for iPhone/iPad and Android); and Mountain Jam Festival (free, for iPhone/iPad and Android).
As part of their business plan, these mobile kitchens have embraced social media Truxmap (free, for iPhone/iPad and Android) is a popular way to keep track of all the food trucks in your vicinity, as it offers real-time displays of all the cuisines parked in your neighborhood.
Another grub-on-the-go option is Food Truck Finder (free, for Android) which supports dozens of mobile kitchens in 34 cities around the globe. The app acts as a Twitter aggregator, allowing users to look up truck options in their city with the latest tweeted locations.
As someone whose work has them on planes on a regular basis, one of the best apps to have is Flight Aware (free, for iPhone/iPad and Android). While minimalist in design, this app will provide you with updated information for your flight(s), even when the airline staff is less than forthcoming. This is a huge advantage when trying to decide when to actually arrive at the airport, and is also useful when in a foreign country where there is a language barrier. Speaking of which...
While it still has a few bugs, the Google Translate app (free, for iPhone/iPad and Android) is a good in-a-pinch translating tool. You can type or speak a phrase in a number of different languages and then translate it to your desired tongue. It's also helpful in that it keeps a history of this phrases in case you need to revisit them. Bonus: You can translate directly from received text messages.
The aptly named UV Index app ($1.99, for iPhone/iPad) not only displays the UV index forecast for your specific location, but recommends what kind of SPF you should have based on your skin type, plus it offers reminders on when to reapply.
And as you plan those road trips (or if you're just someone who puts a lot of miles on the road), a good app to have on-hand is the no-frills Gas Mileage Calculator (free, for Android). This handy app allows users to track the mileage on their vehicle and calculate how much each mile essentially costs. What's more, it works for both European and US units. Likewise, the Gas Cubby app (free, for iPhone/iPad) offers mileage calculations, and will let you know when it's time to change your oil or do other maintenance based on how many miles you've driven.
As mobile devices become more and more prevalent, they become more ingrained with our everyday lives. They keep us connected and give us unprecedented access to tailored information from around the world. They're super helpful for traveling and saving money, but remember to put your smartphones away for a little while this summer and enjoy the weather and the company of friends.