Brighten Up Your Daily Commute With These 7 Essential Apps and Gadgets
And watch the hours fade away…
Commuting is a nightmare. It’s that one constant source of irritation and despair that quite literally follows us to work in the morning, only to accompany us on the journey home, too.
Recent statistics revealed that the average commute in the UK typically lasts around 54 minutes per day – markedly higher than the 34-minute average among Europeans – which only, ahem, drives home the point that we spend a sizeable portion of our lives in transit.
Tedious though it may be, it doesn’t have to be boring. Regardless of whether you walk, run, cycle or drive, there’s a wealth of gadgets and smartphone apps designed to enhance the experience – or, at the very least, make it that little bit more bearable.
Because after so much time spent commenting back and forth, you owe it to yourself to jazz up the journey. And so, what follows is a carefully selected pool of gadgets and apps that will, through time, enrich your everyday commute and maybe – just maybe – put a spring in your step.
Amazon Fire 7 Tablet
The Fire 7 is Amazon’s best-selling Fire tablet for a reason. Priced at £49.99, the Fire 7” is a pocket-sized powerhouse replete with 256GB of expandable storage and a longer battery life (8 hours, give or take) than its competitors.
It’s also thinner and lighter than previous models, meaning you’ll be able to slip the device into your jacket pocket or handbag to read/watch/listen on the go. Toss in a Netflix and/or Amazon Prime subscription and you’ll also have the ability to watch downloaded videos offline. So even when the signal begins to dip, and the train reaches its capacity, you’ll be able to binge through episodes of Stranger Things (or The Grand Tour, or The Americans, or any other TV show or film that tickles your fancy) to while away the hours.
Available on: iOS
Life on public transport can be deafening even at the best of times. Whether it’s the rowdy teenagers or the squealing youngsters – the cramped interiors or the constant, dreary hum of the overhead tannoy – commuting via bus or train can be an assault on the senses.
So what better way to silence the noise than enclose yourself in a (mostly) soundproof bubble? That’s where Headspace comes in. It’s the free-to-download smartphone app that brings meditation to the masses, while the elegant design and three-minute lessons help spark a sense of mindfulness even on the darkest of days. Simply plug your headphones, relax, and follow the necessary breathing exercises on your journey toward a healthier, happier life. Because make no mistake, the body performs best when the mind is at ease.
Cost: £7.99 per month
Available on: iOS
If portable meditation isn’t your thing, or you simply require something a little more stimulating to pass the time, Audible places the world’s largest selection of audiobooks in the palm of your hand. From fiction to non-fiction to time-honoured classics, the Amazon-owned giant grants access to over 200,000 titles, and if you’re hesitant about adding another monthly charge to your list of direct debits, you’ll be pleased to know that a 30-day free trial is available.
And let’s face it, life tends to get in the way of your reading list. But with Audible by your side, you’ll be able to listen anywhere, anytime as you begin to blast through your literary backlog at home or on the go.
Vain STHLM Commute Bluetooth Headphones
Inspired by the hustle and bustle of Stockholm’s subway system, the Vain STHLM Commute headphones are about to become your new travel buddy. These on-ear cans were simply tailor-made for the daily commute, as the noise-reducing cushions reduce the drone of daily life, allowing you to listen to your music (or audiobooks!) and make phone calls via Bluetooth for up to 12 hours. And thanks to the device’s wireless design, you’ll even be able to listen to your music uninterrupted, safe in the knowledge that your personal belongings (or fellow passengers!) won’t tug at the wires while you’re in transit.
Podcasts are a life-saver when it comes to passing the time. But with so many to choose from – topics range from current affairs to new ideas – users are often left facing an embarrassment of digital riches. And that’s where Pocket Casts comes in. It’s the friendly, easy-to-use app that compiles all of your favourite together for a seamless stream of information.
Highlights include Stuff You Should Know, The Secret History of Hollywood and Tomorrow’s World, a newfangled BBC series that deep dives into some of the most pressing issues facing science and technology today.
Cost: Free (premium options available from £1.99 per month)
Available on: iOS
If Pocket Casts helps organise and curate all those delightful podcasts, then Instapaper is your home base for all web content. Let me put this straight: with Instapaper, you’ll be able to save and store online articles to read later on your iPhone, iPad, Android, computer, or Kindle. It’s the perfect workaround for those of us who tend to commute via plane or subway (read: in a Wi-Fi free zone), and each article is perfectly formatted to your chosen device.
So if you’ve ever stumbled across an article or webpage that you’d like to read when you have a little more time, simply bookmark it through Instapaper, which even includes a dark mode for those night owls out there.
Available on: iOS
Citymapper has been billed as the ultimate transport app. And for good reason.
It’s a public transit and mapping service designed to get you from A to B safely, efficiently, and in good time. Citymapper also packs real-time information from local transport authorities so that you’re aware of any delays or unforeseen interruptions ahead of time, and the built-in journey planner illustrates the best routes to take each and every day.
All of this can be applied to numerous cities around the world – be it London, Moscow, or Hong Kong. And while it’s a god-send to all commuters, Citymapper is particularly beneficial to cyclists looking to map out a scenic route of their own through the bustling city centre.