- Author Verity Burns
- Published July 25, 2014
Boring commute? Watch this stuff
Commuting is a considerable part of day-to-day life for most of us. The average worker spends 41 minutes a day travelling to and from work – those spending up to 90 minutes has doubled in the past five years.
With plenty of time to kill, it makes sense that we’ve turned to smartphones and tablets to ease the grind. Luckily there’s plenty of good stuff out there. Here’s our pick of apps, videos, podcasts and more to make your commute zip by – however long it takes…
TED is a non-profit organisation that began in 1984 as a conference for technology, entertainment and design, and has since spread to cover just about everything – from science to business to global issues. On its website, or via their handy Android app, you’ll find short, powerful talks – usually around 15 minutes – that are core to TED’s tagline: “Ideas worth spreading.” Depending which video you pick, you’ll end your commute laughing, moved, inspired or educated. A superb way to pass the time. See here
Storypod Short Films £free
Thankfully, most of us don’t have a commute that’ll allow us to watch a whole film in one go and putting a movie down half way to pick it up later never really works. Storypod is a free-to-download app that features a plethora of short films from across the world, all pre-selected for their high quality. Most come in at 15 minutes or under, with many under five, meaning you can watch a number of tiny blockbusters by the time you get to your desk. See here
With so much at our fingertips these days, it can be overwhelming to keep up with everything that’s going on. Flipboard solves that problem and presents all the news and updates from your various news and social network channels in visual bite-sized chunks so you can dip in and out as you find the time. You’ll never be stumped for conversation starters at the coffee machine again. See here
Bad Dollar From £1
Bad Dollar is a website committed to providing great short stories for just £1. Even better – they’ve created a list of those that will suit different length commutes along various Tube lines, all of which come in at under 30 minutes. Of course, these are good no matter what mode of transport you’re taking, plus there’s a library of other titles for you to explore too. See here
BBC World Update: Daily Commute via BBC iPlayer Radio app, £free
The BBC World Service produces a 30-minute daily podcast, aimed squarely at commuters through its name, providing news, features and interviews of the day’s news from across the world. It’s not going to have you rolling in the aisles of the X28 but it’s a superbly produced package that leaves you clued up on all that’s important in the world. See here
Why not put your commute to good use and learn a new language? Duolingo is a free app (and website) that’ll currently allow you to take courses in Spanish, French, German, Italian and Portuguese. Made up into bite-sized lessons around vocabulary, grammar and popular phrases, it’s perfect for the on-the-go learner. See here
The Infinite Monkey Cage podcast via BBC iPlayer Radio app, £free
Science and all the wonders of the universe can get a bit much at 8am in the morning, but The Infinite Monkey Cage podcast manages to balance it nicely with a generous portion of wit and comedy. Hosted by physicist Brian Cox and comedian Robin Ince, the award-winning show – now in its eighth series – covers a single topic, from space travel to the apocalypse, in an endlessly accessible and entertaining fashion. Funny and educational. Why couldn’t school have been more like this? See here
24: Live Another Day £various from Play Store and Sky Go
The idea of 24 is that each episode is 60 minutes long, covering the events in a single hour of a 24-hour period. But that’s with ads – the beauty of watching it on demand is that each episode comes in just under the 45-minute mark, making it ideal for an action-packed commute. It all looks just as impressive on a smaller screen too – and what better to get you ready for the day than some of Jack Bauer’s bad-ass one liners?
Stuff You Should Know podcast via Stitcher, £free
The Stuff You Should Know (SYSK) podcast is one of the most popular podcasts in the world, and for good reason. Published by the company behind The Discovery Channel, it’s a chit-chat style podcast that centres around a single topic every episode. The best thing? The hosts, Josh and Chuck, aren’t experts in these topics themselves – they learn about it and present it in a really easy to understand, light-hearted way. Ever wondered how to survive a zombie apocalypse or whether ghosts really exist? Josh and Chuck have all the answers in these hour-long episodes. See here
Netflix £6.99 per-month
With an hour to spare on your commute, you have a whole host of excellent TV series to choose from, making Netflix the perfect partner for your journey. Want comedy? Try the Emmy-nominated Orange is the New Black – offering a healthy dose of black humour and proving so popular it’s just been approved for a third series. Fancy something a little more hard-hitting? The Netflix original House of Cards features the excellent Kevin Spacey as a ruthless politician who’ll stop at nothing to see his political agenda succeed. Whatever you choose, remember you’ll need to stream these all on the go, so keep an eye on your data limits.
Also try: Sky subscribers should check out Sky Go Extra, which offers offline viewing of shows and movies based on your subscription package. Our top show tip? Game of Thrones – it really is worthy of the hype.
Verity Burns is multimedia editor on What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision magazine.
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