Time sinks: Apps, games and tech things to do on a quick commute

Medium (Android, iOS, free)

Reading is powerful, and there’s so much you can learn by doing it. On your daily commute - especially if you’re on a train or bus - you no doubt see people with their heads buried in books, newspapers and magazines. Well, with Medium, you can read quality content straight from your phone. What’s cool, though, is that the app has a ‘read time’ feature, meaning you can identify how long an article will take to read. Most are pretty easy to get into, and you can easily get through a piece within fifteen minutes.

Stronghold Games Timer (Android, iOS, free)

If you’d like to kill time and have a bit of fun as well, then it’s worth checking out Stronghold Games Timer. Available on both Android and iOS, the app offers a selection of easy games that are controlled by sand timers. They’re based mainly on the theme of space, but there’s also a whacky game about the UN Security Council. You can set a timer for each game, lasting from a few seconds to a few minutes. There’s a pre-timer option of five minutes, so you could easily play a few while you’re on the bus or train.

News In 60 (iOS, free)

Sometimes, it can be hard to keep up-to-date with the things happening in the world when you have so much going on in your life. But you can change that with News In 60. The app finds all the important news in a day - covering areas such as current affairs, technology and sports - and summarises them so they only take a few seconds to read. You can easily share your favourite articles with friends and save them as bookmarks to access later on. It’s been optimised for high-download speed, low bandwidth and night use.

Recolor (Android, iOS, free)

It’s easy to get bored while travelling to work on the train or bus. You’ll often sit there, read a newspaper briefly and just daydream till you reach your destination. Recolor, a digital colouring book, could literally brighten things up for you. Available on both Android and iOS, the app lets you colour in pictures such as mandalas and animals. You could easily get through one or two within fifteen minutes. What sets it apart, though, is the fact there are stress-relieving qualities. The colours are fresh and easy on the eyes, and the process is all about easing your mind. You can use this app as a therapeutic way to get your brain ready for a busy day of work.

Seconds (iOS, free)

Not everyone travels to work by car, train, bus or other means of transport. There are many people who opt to walk, mainly because it can be healthier and avoids the stampede of passengers. If you’re one of these individuals, you may feel as though your daily walk to work is like an exercise course. And why shouldn’t it be? Seconds is a handy app to have if you agree. It lets you set up templates and timers for exercise. There are loads of interval timers to choose from, including a small 7-minute workout session. Should you be feeling up for it, you could time your walk and incorporate a few push-ups. You may get a few odd looks, but good health is what it’s all about.

Headspace (Android and iOS, free)

Meditation is one of the best ways to improve your focus throughout the day, relieve stress and help you get some much-needed sleep. And with time to spare while you commute, you have a good time to put your mind at rest. Often, meditation is seen as a timely, skillful process but Headspace proves otherwise. It lets you meditate on-the-go, giving you access to guided sessions. The great thing about the app is that the latter are split into ten minutes, so you can meditate before you head into the office. Although the app is free to download, it’ll actually cost you about a tenner a month. 

Nicholas Fearn is a freelance technology journalist and copywriter from the Welsh valleys. His work has appeared in publications such as the FT, the Independent, the Daily Telegraph, The Next Web, T3, Android Central, Computer Weekly, and many others. He also happens to be a diehard Mariah Carey fan!