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Mobile apps that help pass the time in line

Tashalee Rodriguez, of Boston, uses a smart phone

Tashalee Rodriguez, of Boston, uses a smart phone app while shopping at Macy's in downtown Boston. (Nov. 23, 2012) Credit: AP

The holiday shopping season is upon us! If you are going to purchase gifts from actual stores (rather than online and via mobile applications), be prepared to wait in line. While there are no apps just yet designed to reduce the wait at Macy's or Best Buy, there are plenty of titles you can tap into for entertainment and even for a little bit of peace.

Here are five of the best apps with which to pass the time in line this holiday season:


(iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android; free)

How many times have you caught the headline of a story on your desktop computer and then wanted to read it later when you have a few minutes to spare? Wouldn't it be nice to avoid having to resize the story on your smartphone when you're waiting in line at the department store? And even worse, if there is a weak cellular connection and no wireless Internet access, you're out of luck. Enter Pocket, an app formerly known as Read It Later. Accessing content through this app is a pleasure, and many of its features, such as changing text size, sharing through myriad services and archiving finished content, are extremely intuitive. The app also lets you store and view videos offline, as well as tag content so you can easily find it later.

Crackle -- Movies & TV

(iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android; free)

Video streaming services like Netflix and Hulu are great, but they require monthly subscriptions in order to access anything good. Crackle is free and includes thousands of classic and relatively recent movies and TV shows. One series that you can access only through Crackle is Jerry Seinfeld's "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee." The slick and hilarious video clips average about 15 minutes in length and include playful interactions with other comedians, including Larry David, Mel Brooks and Ricky Gervais, as they cruise around in fancy automobiles grabbing cups of joe. What better way to pass the time than watching a show that is literally about nothing?

Holiday Recipes & Party Planning Guide by FOOD52 (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad; $4.99)

Whether you are planning a full-fledged Christmas dinner or just a family Sunday supper, Food52's Holiday Recipes & Party Planning Guide app is the tastiest place to get started. This app lets you learn how to shuck an oyster or truss a turkey while you're waiting in line at the grocery store.

Meditations for Manifesting -- Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

(iPhone, iPod Touch; $5.99)

Instead of spending 20 minutes tweeting nonsense with strangers, spend some quality time with yourself. Whenever you find yourself with that rare and coveted free time to yourself on the bus or even hiding in the bathroom at work, the Meditations for Manifesting app is a great way to pass the time positively. Dr. Wayne W. Dyer will help coach you to a more optimistic mindset in no time.


(iPad; free)

Are all of the long lines and holiday stress getting you down? Improve your outlook on life with the free Unstuck app for iPad. Whether you are experiencing difficulties in your relationships or at work, the Unstuck app is the perfect coach to help you start working through them. This positive lifestyle app helps you shake off the negatives and say hello to a more positive you. With the new iPad mini, you can now easily carry this app with you wherever you go. 

Bang for the buck


"Call of Duty: Black Ops II" grossed $500 million worldwide on its first day of release on Nov. 13, according to publisher Activision, which said the shoot-'em-up video game was "the biggest entertainment launch of the year." By comparison, blockbuster movie "Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2" grossed $340 million worldwide in its first weekend of release last week -- and that was the eighth-biggest movie opening ever. -- Peter King


Delivering the goods


Food-ordering service GrubHub is adding a "Track Your Grub" feature to its Android and Apple apps. Hungry diners waiting for delivery get a message when their food leaves the restaurant. The feature, being tested in Manhattan, allows customers to access a map where they can follow their kung pao shrimp or pepperoni pizza along the city streets in real time. -- Peter King


Supermarket checkout


"Showrooming," where shoppers examine an item in a store while using a smartphone to hunt for lower prices online, is the bane of brick-and-mortar consumer-electronics retailers. But marketing-services firm Aprimo found it's not only big-ticket items shoppers are researching. While 39 percent of showroomers said checking consumer-electronics prices was their top activity, 37 percent said hunting for lower prices at the supermarket was their No. 1 showrooming tactic. -- Peter King


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