It's out with the old and in with the new all over again. February 9 is New Year's Eve — that is, the eve of the 15-day Lunar New Year that more than a billion people celebrate globally, especially in Asia. This marks the end of the lucky Year of the Dragon, and February 10 will begin the decidedly more cautious and tenuous Year of the Snake.
Major traditional and non-traditional celebrations are scheduled all over world. Never mind the rumblings in various Asian media outlets that the Year of the Snake portends terrible and unlucky incidents — 1989 and 2001 were Snake years, Asian astrologists point out in such reports. Those years, respectively, saw the Tiananmen Square uprising and the terrorist attacks on the New York World Trade Center and Washington D.C. It's best to stay alert in a Snake Year, the Chinese astrologists say, and it's safest to ring in the Lunar New Year 2013 in big, brave way. Major cities are hunkering down. And the market for New Years-related mobile apps is bigger than ever.
"It's surreal," Taipei-based mobile tech pro Sascha Pallenberg told me via Google+ in response to the traditional Happy New Year greeting I posted to Asian readers in my circles last night. "Taipei is getting ready for the big party tomorrow and for a week of vacation. They basically close down the whole city." As celebrants get ready, app makers are making hay.
Here's a sampling of the most popular new apps available for Android and iOS that commemorate the Lunar New Year 2013 festivities.
New Year HD Live Wallpaper
New Year HD Live Wallpaper for Android is free in the Google Play Store all month from its developer, Wojtekbear. It's been flying off the virtual shelves since it became available two weeks ago. Crisp images of family celebrations and fireworks adorn this app, which works on Android versions 2.1 and up. The HD wallpaper is gorgeous.
New Year HD Live Wallpaper for Android.
Chinese New Year Resolutions
And it wouldn't be a New Year, lunar or otherwise, without resolutions. App Type Ltd. recently released Chinese New Year Resolutions for iOS. This app is optimized for the latest Apple iPhone 5 and its high-res, taller screen, but it will work with any Apple mobile device with iOS 6.0 or later.
Forget fears of bad luck, exhorts the developer on its site. "Make your own good fortune, health, and happiness in the Year of the Snake by making concrete resolutions and sticking to them." Some gimmicks never get old. The app costs $.99 (USD), which is a small price to pay for a rich resolution.
Chinese New Year Resolutions app.
Events & Festivals Search and Calendar
If you're out and about during the Lunar New Year festivities — also known as the Spring Festival — Hong Kong is the place to be. Click here to find out the schedule for parties, events, and the spectacular annual February 11 Lunar New Year fireworks display around Victoria Harbour, where thousands will gather when the sun goes down. There are even state-sponsored apps to help you find your way around amid the hubbub.
Discover Hong Kong - AR
When the Snake is coming to town, you can bet there will be a lot of hubbub. A good app to get you through it all, says the official Hong Kong Lunar New Year site, is Discover Hong Kong in Augmented Reality (AR), just updated for iOS and Android. The app, brought to you by Hong Kong's Tourism Board and Cathay Pacific Airlines Limited, is stunning on both platforms.
Discover Hong Kong - AR for iOS.
Celebrate the Chinese New Year!
If you'd like to get in on the festivities, you can write out Happy New Year or wish good fortune to your friends, family, and colleagues using Chinese characters. Also, be sure to check out the infographic below, created by the folks at alibaba.com, for lucky gift ideas to give people worried about the upcoming Snake year.
Gina Smith is a NYT best-selling author of iWOZ, the biography of Steve Wozniak. She is a vet tech journalist and chief of the geek tech site, aNewDomain.net.