Whether you love your job, hate it with a passion, or find yourself somewhere in between these two extremes, there are numerous app-inspired ways to make your workday that little bit more enjoyable. Back before the Internet was invented, employees injected fun into their work day with activities that were so boring, that by our modern standards, they could literally put you to sleep; actually, sleep is one of those said activities, according to this forum that details how fun was achieved during the work day during the pre-internet era. The forum includes a wide range of mind bogglingly “fun” activities including: gossiping, bending paperclips, starring out of windows and cleaning desks.
Then came the Internet, and with it the loss of an estimated 35% of employee productivity. This invention consumed millions upon millions of employee work hours each year and cost the economy (estimated) billions year on year. The smart companies wised up to the distractive qualities of this crucial business tool and placed strategic blocks on websites that cause procrastination and moderation tools that recorded your every click. What was an employee to do for fun now? Go back to gormlessly starring out windows or gossiping about Mildred’s dandruff? No, we had come too far to have our hopes of dawdling dashed now and the last bastion of hope came with the birth of the smart phone market and its unprotected data plans.
Below you will find a list of 20 apps that will attempt to make your working experience that little bit more fun. While some may actually even help your productivity and improve your general health and happiness, others, when gluttonously consumed, may see you paying the HR department repeated visits and may even result in you being sling-shot out of the door, Angry Birds-style. Enjoy, with caution, the 20 apps to make your day at work fun.
1. iBrainstorm: Creative Brainstorming At Its Best
Release: 17 March 2011
Developer: Universal Mind
It’s a fantastic and slightly geeky app that makes transferring notes and memos between colleagues’ iPhones and iPads instantaneous and fun. You can arrange and stack notes, memos and group doodles on the iPhone app and seamlessly transfer them to a colleague’s iPad. Perhaps best suited for those who work in a creative or media based industry as opposed to those who work as an accountant. iBrainstorm will allow colleagues to pass and share information in a fun, interactive and creative way; whilst we can’t guarantee that it will increase productivity, (it might), we can guarantee that you’ll have fun using it.
2. iTranslate Voice: “Communicate With The World”
Release: May 10, 2012
Developer: Sonico GmbH
Whether you work in customer services, for a hedge fund or have an international staff of thousands, the iTranslate app can serve two ‘crucial’ purposes; the first being that it actually works surprisingly well translating the dialects of 32 languages into something you can actually understand, which helps to make international connections more accessible than ever before, and the second being the fact that you can call a colleague an, “ass hat” in Cantonese, whilst passing it off as a compliment without fear of repercussion, and this alone is surprisingly satisfying. While it’s not perfect, it is certainly better than good enough to warrant the app’s bargain £0.69 price tag.
3. Paper Toss: Better Than The Real Thing, Kind Of
Release: 19 December 2011
Developer: Backflip Studios
While we can’t date the game’s original conception (the actual real game that is), paper toss is a firm office favourite and back in the days before the App Store existed, employees would bravely crumple up post dated memos and toss them across the room into various wastebaskets with reckless glee. This, of course, would not make the bosses particularly happy, so the bright sparks at Back Flip Studios brought it to us via virtual medium. Now, with subtle finger flicks, you can rack up points and skills that may have absolutely no value in the real world, but will be highly entertaining and downright amusing during a 5-minute work day recess.
4. TV Catchup “Watch TV At Work!”
Release: 01 May 2012
Developer: GZero ltd
If you’re insatiably brazen or have access to a cubicle or corner office without a line of site on any fellow colleagues, then the TV Catchup app will allow you to do something that is near preposterous – watch television whilst you are working. While I myself have never been bold enough to test this app in the work place, if you dare, it is there for you and because of it you will never have to miss another episode of the Antiques Road Show ever again. Of course, the drawbacks to this app mainly include the fact that you’ll need to access the company Wi-Fi to use it (its not a star performer on 3G), and with this you and you’re timewasting efforts will most likely become easily traceable to the IT team…unless of course you are the IT team.
5. AirBnB: Get Lost In The Fantasy Of Being Somewhere Else
Release: 01 June 2012
Developer: Airbnb, Inc.
For those of you who dream of being somewhere else, with your picturesque screensavers and a jauntily angled postcard of a Caribbean paradise above your desk, invest in the AirBnB app. AirBnB is a one stop travel shop where you can rent or share a truly unique place to stay at over 192 countries across the world. Last year AirBnB brought their website to the app market and created a bespoke travel app for the bespoke traveller that makes for a great way to get lost in the fantasy of being somewhere else every work day. It also allows you to make friends and communicate with those who have already been there so that at the very least you can live vicariously through them.
6. WhatsApp: Communicate, Socialize And Network For Free
Release: 07 March 2012
Developer: WhatsApp Inc.
WhatsApp can be used both as a cost effective business communication tool and a social hang out for you and your friends. Whatever method you decide to use the WAP based messenger for, communicating between colleagues or friends has never been easier, more cost effective, and, let’s face it, quite as much fun. It’s an all around winner in the business world and out of it and as this technology develops it is sure to one day be the death of all mobile phone networks. So, unless you work for one of these said companies, drop a smiley on the end of your message, send a picture of your lunch and enjoy it, because sometimes it’s the little communications that bring the most fun into the workday.
7. Soundhound: Never Miss A Song Again
Release: 27 April 2012
Developer: SoundHound, Inc.
If you’re fortunate enough to work in an office that permits the use of Spotify, Grooveshark or just the radio, you can use SoundHound to make sure that you’re up to date on the latest and greatest music, feign interest in your hot colleague’s music preferences or just get swept away in a song that you love over and over again, in your own time at home. SoundHound has eclipsed its predecessor Shazam as the go-to music identifying app and is sure to make your workday that little more enjoyable as you assemble your office’s greatest hits, whether their played, sung or hummed.
8. FunCamera: Preposterous Office Photo Fun
Release: Jun 04, 2012
This is an app that can easily get you into trouble and one that is so immaturely amusing that it’s almost worth the trip to the HR department for a ritual admonishing. Whether it’s fire coming out of your boss’s head, smell lines coming out of an unhygienic colleague or icicles covering the office ice queen, it’s an app with infinite immature possibilities. It’s easy to use and you don’t just have to utilize it for evil alone; if you want, you could even cover a colleague with sparkle and call them a star…but that’s not really much fun; in fact it’s weird, and if they have the same app they’ll probably reply with one that makes you look like a psycho…worth bearing in mind. In all honesty, I would only ever recommend using this app with someone you consider a close (and uncompetitive), friend in the office, because if your amusing images fall in the wrong hands you’ll probably be fired. Of course, on the plus side you could edit a funny image of your ass on fire and add it to Facebook as a status update on your way out the door…
9. Solitaire: It Will Help You Focus…ish”
Release: Apr 20, 2012
Developer: Finger Arts
It’s a game that Windows may have got us hooked on, but since its creation in 1783 Solitaire may be responsible for more work hours lost than even, dare I say it, Facebook! The App Store is chock-a-block full of modern versions of the game and it can provide a pleasant, if not fairly minute, distraction from the average workday. I have included this version as I use it personally and I can’t find a single fault with it. It may be a lonely existence, but it’s highly distracting and perhaps even more addictive…and, OK, it is a little fun as well. Is it? Sort of? Either way it is a proven way to improve your concentration and if you can harness this and turn that concentration towards your work afterwards, it could even be considered a productivity tool…sort of.
10. Instagram: Make Your Office Look Cool
Release: Apr 21, 2012
Developer: Burbn, inc.
Apparently it’s worth a billion dollars and while I occasionally like to make myself and the places I go look relatively abstract using this app, it opens up a world of fun opportunities for amusement in the office. Make your lunch look artistic or your normally mundane work place look anarchic. There’s not a lot of longevity of what you can do with Instagram at work but it can be fun for a while. Plus you can edit to perfection a picture of a colleague that you may have a Stockholm syndrome-esque crush on and make she or he look that little more justifiably attractive to your friends…
11. Obtract: Anti-Procrastination App
Release: 22 December 2011
Developer: Signifier Studio LLC
This is a really useful tool, which actually manages to punish you for procrastination in the work place in a way that is fun…seriously! It’s that good. The app made for Mac operating systems monitors the applications you are using, websites you are visiting and helps keep a general eye on your computer behavior. When you have been unproductive for a certain amount of time a maze pops up on the screen forcing you to ‘buy’ that unproductive time by completing it. The more you procrastinate, the more difficult the mazes get, forcing you to acknowledge your uselessness. The app is also built to work in a small group environment and users productivity scores are stored on a leader board. Users can also send IM messages, post tweets and even buy time from colleagues. It’s a productivity app that’s actually fun to use and it will help you to improve your business and personal productivity in a far more pleasant and amusing manner than anything else available on the market.
12. Angry Birds: The Ultimate Procrastination Tool
Release: May 31, 2012
Developer: Rovio Mobile
Like so many people this App has ruined a substantial part of my life. Whether it’s the numerous hours lost, the public transport stations missed or the fact I actually talk, speak and write about it enough to fill a small novel; Angry Birds is an addiction, procrastination tool and at this point almost even a sickness. According to creators Rovio players across all the games platforms rack up 500 million hours a day of game time and there are 200+ million active users a month. If you don’t know about this game, you don’t know how to use a smartphone and if you have never played this game at work you deserve employee of the year. While business owners will shake their heads in disgust about a game that involves birds that can’t fly being shot from a slingshot into green pigs that eat eggs, they probably have it on their phones too. It might be brazen to say that this games popularity could be singularly responsible for the worldwide recession… seriously think about it, every time they release an update the economy seems to tank… But no matter what we say about it, its still fun. The latest version of the game sees our favourite birds in space, but does it really matter where they are? You probably already have it anyway.
13. Words With Friends: Broaden Your Vocabulary
Release: 23 May 2012
Developer: Zynga Mobile
This is an amazing game and one that you can play whilst multitasking with minor procrastination throughout an entire workday. It may have become too easy to cheat at, with a plethora of shameful apps purpose built to compliment the cheating aspects of the game, but Words With Friends can be a great tool to break up the everyday monotony of work. With 20+ million users there are guaranteed to be a fair few of you who incorporate time for Words with Friends into your work schedule. On the plus side, if you get caught using it you can always claim that it’s a vocabulary-enriching tool, which, actually, it is.
14. Countdown Timer: Chase The Clock
Release: 20 April 2012
Developer: Otto Toth
If you really hate your job, and I mean seriously despise your workday existence, then this is a great app that will create a modicum of fun within your workday. You can mark the minutes of the day, the time until your next holiday or literally the date that you would ideally like to quit the hellhole that you call an office! Of course, this will probably create less of a fun vibe than an unhealthy addiction, but you could always use it to mark key company dates, colleague’s birthdays or public holidays in a fun and pleasant office-incorporated environment. The app is sleek, beautiful and intelligent, offering a plethora of sounds, colours and graphics to match to your biggest days of the year.
15. Draw Something “Get creative”
Release: 23 May 2012
Developer: OMGPOP, Inc.
Draw Something was one of those apps that made every single app developer in the world slap their heads and think, “Why didn’t I think of that?!” It’s so utterly simple to use, basic and interactive to share that it almost makes you sick with the simplicity. Its also highly addictive and unless you’ve joined the ranks of Draw Something Artiste, a picture shouldn’t take you more than a minute to create. It’s a simple and, dare I even say, exciting way to break up a day, break the rules and create a small piece of art in a fun way, which on the plus side should get your creative juices flowing – despite how awful your drawing may in fact be.
16. Skout: Flirt, Friend, Chat
Release: Mar 27, 2012
Price: Free (but costly upgrade options)
Developer: Wichro, Inc.
There is nothing more fun or exciting than an office romance, but just in case you’ve conquered all feasible conquests Casanova-style, or, more likely, you don’t have any age appropriate, single, or aren’t-mental-enough-to-risk-your-career-on-an-office-romance-gone-sour targets in your sights, there is still hope, because there is Skout. Skout allows you to find, flirt, share pictures, message and even if you’re brazen enough, to meet up with likeminded people in the near vicinity. While the Internet is a dangerous place and that 22-year-old stunner may actually in fact be a large fried chicken eating man named Herman, you’ll still get those butterflies rumbling and you may even find that excitement leading to an improvement in productivity. However, if you get caught using this app in the workplace you be labeled at best a sex pest, and at worst a pervert. You’ve just got to roll the dice…
17. Skype: Communicate With Vision
Release: May 21, 2012
Developer: Skype Limited
Techie-Buzz published the most up to date figures of registered users on Skype I could find, at 663 million in 2011, and if you’re reading this then I guarantee that you know about Skype. Not only is Skype a cost effective and efficient business tool, that improves communication and understanding, it can also actually be quite fun. You can multipurpose and mix a number of personal contacts with your professional ones dropping your significant other a line about what they’re wearing (sorry too much time on Skout), whilst negotiating spreadsheets with your colleague in a different office. It’s all win-win as long as you manage not to confuse the two conversations…
18. ESPN ScoreCenter: Stay On Top Of Your Favourite Sports – At Work
Release: Mar 26, 2012
Developer: ESPN Inc.
With such a plethora of excellent sporting apps, it’s hard to pick just one, but personally I love the ESPN ScoreCenter apps features: The live updates, the blog, and news all combined with an easily digestible format means that whether it’s the Ashes or the Super Bowl, tracking your favourite sports and teams from across the world whilst at work and regardless of time zones has never been easier. It’s a great app for sports loving fans that work unsocial hours, or for those who support unsocial sports on the other side of the world.
19. BeHealthy: Because Being Alive Is Fun
Device: Mac Computers
OK, there is nothing actually fun about this app, but with the onslaught of modern desk related illnesses making sure that you look after yourself whilst at work, taking regularly scheduled breaks to ensure you’ll avoid the regular desk job based pitfalls of poor health is very important. This is because you can’t have much fun in the work place (or even out of it) with eyestrain, a bad back and limp wrist; this app for Mac computers will help you to avoid these issues with regularly scheduled breaks and minor exercises.
20. Facebook: Getting Social
Release: Apr 02, 2012
Developer: Facebook, Inc
I tried my absolute hardest not to include this app on this list, but that then I would be not doing the list true justice. There is no question that this app consumes the most lost work hours and as the smartphone market catches up with this behemoth of a social networking tool, there is no question that whether you use it to stalk, watch videos, keep tabs on your friends and family or to actually socialize, this app will munch more “fun” hours from the average work day than any other. While many employers got savvy to the Facebook generation and created ways to curtail your extra curricular office activities with well placed blocks on the website, these measures will simply push more users onto the smart phone and they’ll have to pull this app from your cold, dead, addicted hands to stop you from using it…
Think we missed an app that will make your workday more fun? Comment below and let us know and we’ll look into reviewing it in future. And please share this article with any friends, lovers or enemies that will find it useful!