This episode of Featured App of the Week focuses on a selection of mobile apps that you may find useful during the holiday season. The apps featured within this episode include:
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Have a wonderful holiday season!
Featured App of the Week – Episode #36
Welcome back to the Featured App of the Week podcast. I’m Jason Rich.
The holiday season is upon us, and while our travel, shopping, and social plans may be a bit hampered this year due to COVID-19, hopefully you’ll discover innovative, memorable, and fun ways to enjoy your holidays with friends and family – either in person or virtually.
As you probably know, the technology that’s built into our smartphones, tablets, computers, smart watches, smart speakers, and smart TVs allow us to communicate using text, audio, photos, and even video. So, even if you can’t be with loved ones in person, you still have the opportunity to share photos, videos, and even participate in live video calls in order to share holiday memories or create new ones.
In this episode of the podcast, I’ll be focusing on optional smartphone apps that might make your holiday season just a little bit better, less stressful, and that potentially could help you feel closer to the people you can’t be with in person.
After launching the App Store app on your Apple iPhone or iPad, or the Google Play Store app on your Android-based mobile device, tap on the Search icon, and within the Search field, enter the keyword “Holiday,” “Christmas,” or “Hanukah,” for example.
Even if you plan to do the majority of your gift shopping online, there are apps like Christmas Gift List Tracker, that’ll help you create a detailed shopping list for everyone you need to buy gifts for, and also track your holiday spending.
With its built in countdown to Christmas widget, you can even schedule when you need to do your shopping. The Christmas Gift Tracker app is free and will prove to be a handy tool, especially if you have multiple people to buy gifts for this holiday season.
Meanwhile, if you have a lot of spare time on your hands causing you to feel stressed out and bored, there’s the Christmas: Coloring Pages app, which is a digital coloring book for adults. It allows you to color holiday-themed pictures using your finger as a paint brush on the smartphone or tablet’s screen.
This too starts out as a free app, but there are optional in-app purchases of 99 cents and $2.99 each that allow you to remove the ads and unlock all of the coloring pages. Research has shown that utilizing adult coloring books can help to reduce stress, so you might find this to be a relaxing activity, even if you don’t consider yourself to be artistic.
To help get you into the holiday spirit, there’s an app called Decorate Your Christmas Tree that allows you to choose a virtual tree on your mobile device’s screen, and then decorate it with all sorts of virtual lights, ornaments, tinsel, and decorations.
You can even select a festive background and then add some animated snow to the image. The Decorate Your Christmas Tree app starts out free, but there’s a one-time 99 cent fee to unlock all of the app’s features and functions.
Suitable for smartphone and tablet users over the age of six, the free Scout Elf Ideas app is an official Elf on the Shelf mobile app. It’s filled with festive and fun activities that users of all ages can experience with a virtual, on-screen elf. However, there are also plenty of creative activities that involve real-world crafting and holiday decorating that the app will guide you through.
Meanwhile, the Christmas Cards Photo Editor app allows you to select your favorite photos of friends, family, or pets, for example, and then edit them using a variety of holiday themed special effects, virtual stickers, virtual frames, and image enhancing filters. Use this app to transform a photo into a digital holiday card that you can easily share with others via social media, email, or text message, for example.
The Christmas Cards Photo Editor app starts off free but has limited functionality. In-app purchases are offered that allow you to subscribe to the fully unlocked app on a weekly or monthly basis.
Once you subscribe, all of the app’s holiday-themed photo editing and image enhancement tools become available. The app is easy to use and allows you to transform a basic photo into a colorful, eye-catching, holiday-themed image you’ll definitely want to share.
If you have kids or grandchildren and can’t get to the mall for them to meet Santa Clause in person, there are a variety of apps, like PNP – Portable North Pole, that for a fee, allow parents to provide details about a child in advance, and then have Santa participate in a video call with your child using a smartphone.
Keep in mind, this is a pre-recorded video experience that uses special effects to create a highly personalized and interactive video call with your child.
There are several apps that offer similar services to PNP – Portable North Pole. Each offers a different selection of personalization features and options, like the ability to record the virtual call between your child and Santa.
As you’re ordering the video call for as child, you’re able to choose the exact time and date for the incoming call. Prices ranges from $2.99 to $39.99, depending on the add-ons and experience you select for the child who will be receiving the call.
Because services like PNP – Portable North Pole combine live-action video recorded of Santa with computer-generated effects, the end result is very realistic and highly personalized. Most young children will believe they’re having an actual, live video call with Santa even though that’s not really the case.
When it comes to decorating your home for the holidays, there are now a wide range of companies that sell smart Christmas lights that can be used on a tree or to decorate your home – inside or outside. These smart lights that can be programmed and controlled remotely via a mobile app.
You’ll find smart holiday lights sold at hardware stores and other stores that sell Christmas decorations. They can also be purchased online from Amazon.com, HomeDepot.com, or Twinkly.com, for example. Using any Internet search engine, enter the search phrase, “smart Christmas lights,” to discover your options.
Meanwhile, if you already have smart lighting in your home, from a company like Phillips Hue, you can probably download holiday scenes for the lighting system’s mobile app for free. These themes allow you to utilize the color-changing smart bulbs in your light fixtures to create a customized holiday theme in just minutes.
The Philips Hue website offers a whole section that’s chock full of free holiday decorating ideas using smart lighting within your home.
The link to the Philips Hue website, as well as details about all of the apps I’ve mentioned during this episode, can be found within the Episode Notes for this podcast episode. Visit www.FeaturedAppPodcast.com for details.
Unfortunately, this year more than others, many people are stressed out and depressed for a variety of reasons. If you need help from a licensed psychologist, there are mobile apps that will allow you to communicate live – via text messaging, voice call, or video call – with a trained therapist who can help.
Check out apps like BetterHelp – Online Counselling, TalkSpace Therapy and Counseling, and Doctor On Demand. Some of these apps allow you to pay per session. Others have a monthly fee that gives you a pre-determined amount of access to your selected therapist.
Unfortunately, most of these apps do not accept health insurance. However, if you do have health insurance, contact your provider for a list of psychologists that do telemedicine and that are covered by your plan.
Well that’s it for this episode of Featured App of the Week. If you found the information useful, please tell your friends about the podcast, post a positive review, and don’t forget to subscribe. Until next time, I sincerely hope that each and every one listening has a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season. I’m Jason Rich. Thanks for listening!