SNOW, WIND & ICI­CLES, OH MY!

HOW YOUR IPHONE CAN HELP YOU BEAT THE WIN­TER BLUES

iPhone Life Magazine - - Life & Tech - BY HALLEI HAL­TER

O h, win­ter. As much as I wish I could curl up in bed and hi­ber­nate like a bear, I still have as much to do dur­ing this sea­son as any other. There are apps such as Ac­cuWeather (free) to keep me in­formed about the fore­cast and the Win­ter Sur­vival Kit (free) to help me prep my car or send for help when the weather gets scary. But in gen­eral, I just want my chilly days to be easy and en­joy­able. Here are a few prod­ucts and apps to make win­ter less of a has­sle and more of a hol­i­day.

FOR GET­TING COZY AT HOME

Who doesn't ap­pre­ci­ate a hot drink on a cold blus­tery day? With the Em­ber Ce­ramic Mug ($79.95), I can en­joy cof­fee, tea, or ap­ple cider with­out scald­ing my tongue (it's hap­pened so many times). This tem­per­a­ture-con­trolled mug pairs with the Em­ber app on my iPhone and fea­tures a slid­ing de­gree scale where I can choose how hot or cold I want my drink. The app also no­ti­fies me when my drink has reached my pre­ferred tem­per­a­ture, and it main­tains the tem­per­a­ture for up to an hour, re­duc­ing any mo­ments of grief over a cup of tea gone cold. The app also tells me when the mug needs to go back on its saucer-shaped charger. The one clear down­side is that the charger isn't wa­ter­proof; to keep the charger dry, I place the mug on a dif­fer­ent sur­face be­fore pour­ing my drink. An­other app fea­ture is the abil­ity to cus­tom­ize the color of the light on the mug. I could set it to red and pre­tend my mug is KITT, the ar­ti­fi­cially in­tel­li­gent car from the re­boot of Knight Rider, but right now I'm very par­tial to neon fuch­sia.

Get­ting cozy with a book is a typ­i­cal way to un­wind in the win­ter, and I like lis­ten­ing to au­dio­books while I cook or do some­thing crafty. Au­dio­books (free) from Cross For­ward Con­sult­ing pro­vides free clas­sics thanks to the pub­lic do­main and the vol­un­teers who read and record books for the Lib­riVox Pro­ject. Lis­ten to well-known works like O. Henry's The Gift of the Magi to get in the hol­i­day spirit or

browse the nearly 10,000 free books to find new fa­vorites. Pod­casts are also avail­able, and there's an op­tion to pur­chase cer­tain ti­tles.

Stay­ing in­doors can be a drag, but it doesn't have to be if you find a fun app that dou­bles as a hobby. I'm a sucker for checkers but re­cently have been learn­ing chess thanks to the Chess - Play & Learn app (free). An­other great app that en­gages your artis­tic side is Color Ther­apy Adult Col­or­ing (free), which al­lows you to tap to color over 2,000 avail­able im­ages in mul­ti­ple themes. What­ever ac­tiv­ity that comes to mind that you'd like to try, type it into the search bar of the App Store and en­joy your new hobby.

FOR EX­PLOR­ING THE OUT­DOORS

I think my keys might have legs, be­cause I have trou­ble find­ing them where I could've sworn I put them. Worse is when I drop them in snow or slush and have to dig around to see them. A smart tracker like Nut (start­ing at $14.99) makes re­triev­ing my keys in­side and out­doors a whole lot eas­ier. The fob syncs to the Nut app, where I can cus­tom­ize the noise it makes when search­ing for my keys. It also works the other way around, so I can click on the fob to find my phone. Nut of­fers an Anti-Loss fea­ture—if my phone gets too far from my key fob, the app sounds the alarm so I don't leave them be­hind. I've found this fea­ture to be trig­gered at a dis­tance of 160 feet. The one cus­tomiza­tion op­tion is set­ting Silent Re­gions or Silent Time so the alarm won't go off when I'm at work or at home. An­other fea­ture lets me no­tify other Nut users that I've lost my fob, so if some­one is nearby they'll find it— prob­a­bly near that icy patch of side­walk where I pre­tended to be an Olympic skater.

You bun­dle up be­fore fac­ing the cold, why not do the same for your phone? The LifeProof FRĒ case (start­ing at $89.99) ad­ver­tises 360-de­gree pro­tec­tion while main­tain­ing full func­tion­al­ity. With a built-in screen cover, the case tightly snaps around my phone to keep out dirt and snow. I'm al­ways drop­ping my phone, and this case pro­tects it from damage from a fall of up to 2 me­ters (about 6.5 feet). And while I doubt I'll be do­ing any un­der­wa­ter pho­tog­ra­phy on an ice-fish­ing trip, the LifeProof FRĒ case can also pro­tect my phone when un­der­wa­ter to a depth of 2 me­ters for up to an hour. In­cluded with the case is a clean­ing cloth and plas­tic tab to help re­open the case. In­struc­tions for putting the case on your phone are sim­ple to fol­low; one thing to note is that LifeProof rec­om­mends sub­merg­ing the empty case first to test the wa­ter­proof qual­ity. As part of Ot­ter Prod­ucts, LifeProof of­fers a one-year war­ranty on its cases.

FOR AVOID­ING THE COLD AT ALL COSTS

Park­ing lots can turn into a mer­ci­less tun­dra in the win­ter, but I still need gro­ceries. Ama­zon can de­liver goods to my home and Wal­mart of­fers gro­cery pickup af­ter I se­lect what I want and pay through the store's app. Sure, I still have to drive to Wal­mart to pick up my gro­ceries, but I can stay in my car and leave in min­utes in­stead of wan­der­ing aisles while the weather worsens. More stores are of­fer­ing gro­cery pickup, so check your lo­cal op­tions.

Other apps I use to avoid ven­tur­ing out into the harsh weather in­clude Venmo (free). I sim­ply link Venmo to my bank ac­count and add friends, so I can pay them back with­out hav­ing to run to the ATM. I cur­rently use Venmo to pay my land­lord, and I try to make other pay­ments—like my util­i­ties, cell­phone, etc.—via an app or on­line op­tion in­stead of drop­ping off pay­ment in per­son or through the mail. Speak­ing of mail, do you find your­self brav­ing the bit­ter winds out­side only to find junk in your mail­box? In­formed De­liv­ery from USPS (free) is an app that shows scans of your in­com­ing mail so you can de­cide if it's worth leav­ing the house for. A sim­i­lar app for ship­ment no­ti­fi­ca­tions is ParcelTrack (free), which takes the track­ing in­for­ma­tion from more than 50 de­liv­ery services and shows you what's ar­riv­ing when.

These apps and prod­ucts can help you save time or find bet­ter ways to spend it. Keep from get­ting too frosty and en­joy the win­ter sea­son. Hallei is ob­tain­ing her BFA in Cre­ative Writ­ing while liv­ing in Fair­field, Iowa. She's cur­rently work­ing on a novel about peo­ple us­ing witch­craft to clean their houses.

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