The internet is a series of tubes, but it’s useless when youre stuck in one. Whether you get to work by land, sea, or air, these apps have offline skills to help you work and decompress while you’re off the grid. Just don’t use them while you’re driving.
You’ll need to keep your offline tunes to 3,000 songs or fewer, but Spotify lets you crank jams without a connection. Plan ahead: You’ll need Wi-Fi to save songs locally. You’ll also need the monthly Premium subscription ($10) to store songs on your phone. If you qualify, jump into an album or playlist, then slide that “Download” switch above the track listing.
- FeedMe (Android) or Newsify (iOS)
The bright side of that 15-minute train delay is that you’ve got plenty of time to catch up on news. Both FeedMe and Newsify are free, and they tap into whatever news outlets you follow on Feedly to build a hearty queue of stories to read offline. Set them up to sync whenever you’re connected to Wi-Fi, then make good use out of that stuck-in-a-tunnel time.
- Instapaper or Pocket
FeedMe and Newsify are like customizable news firehoses, but Instapaper and Pocket are built for hand-selecting meatier stories you’d like to dig into later. It takes planning, though: By clicking a bookmarklet in your browser, both apps save those juicy longreads for offline devouring.
- Pocket Casts
The Netflix of podcasts only costs four bucks flat. Pocket Casts automatically downloads all the awesome shows you subscribe to while you’re connected, but offline listening isn’t the only benefit. This best-in-class player boosts the audio for voices, trims dead air, and helps you find your next audio addiction with its discovery and search features
- Google Drive
Here’s another offline-friendly app that requires forethought before you go underground. If you need some transit time to put the finishing touches on that memo, select a document from your Drive, tap the ellipses in the pop-up menu, and select “Available offline.” You’ll be able to make edits that are saved locally, then synced to the cloud when you’re back online.
- The New York Times Crossword
The Gray Lady is full of words, but the best section of The New York Times is arguably the part where the words are left blank. Using the NYT’s app for iOS and Android, you can download that day’s crossword and spend your commute thumbing in the answers. There are some free mini puzzles you can try out, but power puzzlers will want to subscribe—$40 unlocks one year of unlimited access to 20-plus years of crosswords.
Forget being verbose for a second. Dots is an addictive time-waster that’ll make your 45-minute commute fly by. It’s also a smartly designed game that’s elegant enough to put you in a semi-Zen state. Gameplay is simple; you literally just connect colored dots together. But don’t get cocky—it quickly becomes harder than you’d expect.