Let's face it, not every second of every day is spent doing something productive. Once in awhile you simply have to kill some time. Whether you're waiting for an interview, a meeting, or a bus, you have the perfect opportunity to spin down your work brain and enjoy a moment of mindless entertainment.
As you might expect, it's incredibly easy to kill a stretch of time when you have a smartphone in front of you. In fact, the time you wind up wasting could begin to seep into the actual time devoted to being productive... so be careful, lest your day end up passing by before you get a single thing done.
Which apps should you consider when you need to kill a bit of time? You could just plug in any number of games, but I want to go beyond games (though I'll include at least one) and look at other categories. I won't bother with the obvious (such as Facebook and Twitter). With that said, let's dive in and waste some time.
Note: This article is also available as a screenshot gallery.
I'll kick this off with a game. But this isn't just any game. It's one of the finest RPG-inspired games you'll ever play. Talisman (Figure A) has been around since the early eighties (in the form of a table-top game). I started playing it in the late eighties and stopped only when I could no longer find people to play along. When the digital edition arrived, that break was over. This game is Monopoly meets Dungeons & Dragons and is fun on so many levels.
The base app will set you back $4.98 USD and you can purchase expansion sets, characters, and more. Nomad Games are always bringing out new additions to the base set, but you'll be hard-pressed to ever grow bored with the original. If you're looking for a game that could easily suck away minutes and hours from your day, Talisman is what you're looking for.
Periscope (Figure B) offers you a glimpse into snippets of people's lives. You can follow celebrities, musicians, teachers, and just about anyone willing to allow you into the moments that make up their days. You can also broadcast your own live session—all you need is the app and your phone.
When those you follow go live, you get a notification that'll take you right to their broadcast. You probably won't be surprised by the level of mundaneness you'll find on Periscope. But every so often, you'll come across a real gem that will captivate you and preoccupy you just long enough. Periscope is free to install and to use.
Podcasts are a great way to kill time. Not only can you be entertained, you can also learn something now and then. There are plenty of podcasts to choose from—and there are networks dedicated to serving up podcasts, such as the PodBros Network. If you're looking for the best app to deliver podcasts on your Android device, look no further than Podcast & Radio Addict (Figure C). With this particular podcast app, you can search for (and subscribe to) just about any podcast (from any network), control playback from the notification shade, speed up or slow down playback, set a sleep timer, skip silence, EQ playback, and much more.
The Podcast & Radio Addict app is free, but it does also have a donate app that allows you to donate $2.99 to the developers. (The donate app does not unlock any features.)
4: This or That
This or That (Figure D) isn't a game. It's a simple take on the old would you rather do this or that. The app asks you questions and you tap either This or That. Every time you answer a question, your answer is compared to others using the app. You can also share your answer on Facebook, and you can create your own questions and share them with your friends.
Some of the questions might even give you insights into yourself (or those who have answered the questions, especially when you find out that 82% of players would rather drop a hammer on a complete stranger's toe than on their own.)
This Or That does a splendid job of helping you kill time and will likely make you smile all the while. This Or That is free to install and use.
5: How to Make Paper Airplanes
This app won't be for everyone, but if you recall folding paper airplanes as a kid, this app will certainly tug at those memories... and add some new ones. How to Make Paper Airplanes (Figure E) offers details on how to fold various types of paper airplanes (some simple and some complex). This app walks through through the process of folding various airplanes with easy-to-follow, 3D-ish animated images.
This app ensures that nearly anyone can fold an airplane that will either fly or look really cool sitting on your desk. The app isn't updated often, but mastering the included 16 planes will kill plenty of time. The app is free to install and use.
What's your favorite time-killing app?
How much time have you wasted so far? Minutes, hours, days? If you're looking for something to help burn away those boring minutes between meetings, one of these apps is sure to handle that task. If not, plenty more are available on the Google Play Store.
Do you have a particular favorite app for whiling away downtime? Share your suggestions with fellow TechRepublic members.
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.