Last week Northwestern experienced its first major snowfall of the year and you may be dismayed at the fact that there’s plenty more to come. But life doesn’t have to be entirely bad when you don’t feel like braving the cold. Check out these smartphone apps that will make winter quarter that much more bearable.
Winter Wake-up (Android, iOS; free)
We all have those days when we set our alarm to wake ourselves up, but then we find out it wasn't early enough to put on all those layers of clothing. The Winter Wake-up app will fix this problem. This app, while meant for commuters who need to plan for time to shovel their driveways and clear off their cars, comes in handy for planning for unexpected winter conditions. Set your usual wake-up time on the app's alarm, and if there has been frost or snow the night before it will wake you up a few minutes earlier so that you can use the extra time to bundle up. One of the best features of this app is the setting called, "Don't bother to wake me if the weather's too bad. I'll work on Saturday." Check this, and you can give yourself a snow day!
Northwestern University (Android, iOS; free)
It might be an obvious choice for a helpful winter quarter app, but Northwestern's official app is quite useful. You probably already know of this app's capabilities to deliver campus news, events and maps to your phone, but perhaps its best feature is the transit schedule times. By selecting the route and the part of the map you want to focus in on, you get a glimpse of all the stops. Click on a certain stop and you will see the approximate times the bus will stop there. That way you won't be one of those people waiting in the icy winds for a bus that may come ten cold minutes later.
swackett (iOS; free)
Now you know when to catch that shuttle bus. But you need to know how to dress for that walk to the bus stop. That's where swackett comes in handy. swackett ("sweater, jacket or coat") is an app that informs you of weather conditions using clean, colorful graphics, and then tells you how to dress appropriately for the elements using people symbols called "peeps." When you use swackett, you will always be able to understand with a single glance what to expect while you're outside and how to dress for it.
How to Tie a Scarf (Android, iOS; free)
"Wait - I know how to tie a scarf! I'm a Northwestern student, remember?" You may think you know how to use this practical winter accessory to the fullest, but chances are there is a better way to tie your scarf. That's where the How to Tie a Scarf app comes in handy. This app gives you step-by-step pictures for seven different ways of tying your scarves, from Ascot to Western and more. You'll have people stopping you on your way to class asking about your creative knots, and you will actually be able to stop and talk to them because you won't be as cold.
XMAS Snow Fight (Android; free)
With all this snow, you so desperately want a snowball fight. But you have a problem; your friends would much rather stay in the toasty warm dorm than throw ice chunks at each other in Deering Meadow. Fear not. You can have a snowball fight on your Android with the XMAS Snow Fight game. In this game you must defend your area from bullies who want to ruin Christmas. Use all that pent up energy you have saved up while being snowed in, and let loose in this game. Best of all, you never have that awkward moment when you hit an innocent bystander with a snowball. If you are an iPhone user, check out Snow Ballistic (free).
Barista - cafe quality espresso coffee at home (iOS; $2.99)
Is the wind from the lake just enough to kill your plans to go warm up at a coffee shop? If you have access to an espresso machine (or if your roommates do), then stay in and make your own coffee drinks. The Barista app provides step-by-step instructions for espresso beverages and latte art, so you can pretend you went to a real coffee shop without having to pay for the beverage or withstand the cold. This app also includes and extraction timer and tips for selecting, storing and grinding espresso beans, making it a must-have for anyone whose love of espresso is much stronger than his or her love of winter. If you are an Android user, check out the Barista Me - Coffee Guide app (free).
WebMD (Android, iOS; free)
When you decide to venture out into the snow for a real snowball fight, building a snowman or sledding, you may catch a cold, fall on ice, get run over by small children on sleds and possibly beamed in the head by a giant snowball. It's important to take care of yourself all the time, especially in the winter, so use the WebMD app for any small medical needs. You can search your symptoms and receive advice on getting better or finding real medical help with the included local healthcare provider listings. This app's first aid tips may help get you through potentially dangerous situations that come so frequently with winter.
Winter quarter: you can complain about it, avoid the outdoors and hibernate, or you can get out there (or stay in there still) and enjoy it for what it is. Next time Mother Nature decides to give us a heaping dose of snow, you will have the resources to make the most of it.