Use Your Idle Time to Get Smarter With These Apps

Until this modern age of smartphones, there’s been no good way to twiddle your thumbs. That’s all in the past now and your outlet for wasting time sits right in your pocket all day. It’s very easy to open up a portal in time (via the latest in the Angry Birds franchise) and get transported into the future by playing a game when you need to waste some time. But could you be spending this time for self-improvement? And can you have fun at the same time? The answer to both of those is “yes”.

Fit Brains

Fit brains is an app that trains your brain. It’s developed by the Rosetta Stone people, and they want you to become smarter! The games in the app are built to develop such skills as logic, memory, focus, and problem solving.

The games are fun to play, and, what’ more important, there’s a large variety of them, so no risk of getting bored and reaching for that shoot-em-up.


Duolingo allows you to learn a second (third, fourth) language easily. It’s free, and each course has been fine-tuned by over a 100 million users, so you know it’s good. You learn new things as you complete exercises, so there’s no “stop and go” rhythm to it like traditional learning.

Each exercise takes minutes to complete from start to finish, and you can fit as many of those in a day as cups of coffee you drink. That’s a lot of learning!

New York Times Crossword App

The New York Times Crossword is for smarties, and if you want to become one, you’d better get this app. Crosswords make you smarter by enhancing your pattern recognition skills and broadening your vocabulary, but this app doesn’t feature a progress bar to track your performance for you.

Great way to spend your commute!

Pocket Sudoku

Similar to crosswords, Sudoku can help you raise your pattern recognition skills to the level of intuition, not to mention improve your memory and concentration skills.

And as with crosswords, there is no progress-tracking when it comes to how quickly and well you do these puzzles, but you can track your improvement on your own. For a beginner, a medium-difficulty puzzle should take about five minutes. As you continue solving Sudokus, you can bring your time down to two minutes. According to Guiness World Records, the fastest time taken to complete a “Very Easy” puzzle was 1 minute, 24 seconds, so shoot for something close to that.

Today in History

Impress your friends by knowing what happened today in history! Every day, this app delivers a roundup of all the important stuff that happened today in years past: births, deaths, important events, holidays, and more.

You can get your history fix in minutes — just pop it open any time you’ve got a minute, and learn something new about major events in history.

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Laconic Lemming
Content crafter at Write!, spends all his time writing or learning how to write better. A few time was caught reading The New York Times and watching TED talks during working hours.
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  • thank you for this set of apps! Very useful to know.

    • You are Welcome, Kelvin!

  • Actually, I have never tried Angry Birds. Is it still popular? Worth to try?

    • You can try if you have some free time for games.

  • Some are useful some are useless. Today in History – more for fun than for brain

    • That app is for those who are interested in history. But to have some fun never hurts anybody 😉

  • Many answers for New York Times Crossword App I could find only with a help of the internet.

  • I would like to download Fit Brains but this is quite pricey. Do you know any free alternative?

  • I prefer books to apps.