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Five app ideas for the Fourth of July

Steve Sande, @stevensande
July 3, 2010

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Whether you're just hanging around your back yard, going to the beach, or waiting to set off a huge cache of fireworks, there are always a lot of fun things to do over the Independence Day holiday in the U.S. Here are some apps that can help you enjoy the fun during the holiday.

Grilling: Weber's On the Grill (US$4.99 - separate apps for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad). One of the staples of the holiday weekend is the family barbecue, with friends and family enjoying the outdoors and stuffing themselves with grilled delectables. The app has 250 classic recipes, an additional 40 recipes for rubs, marinades, and sauces, and more. You can store ingredients from any recipe in a grocery list for quick shopping, send the grocery lists to others (good if you're sharing the picnic duties), read tips on grilling, and even watch short grilling videos.

Last, but not least, there's a grill timer right in the app that tells you when to flip that steak. I personally use this app with my Weber Genesis gas grill and it's a winner.

Sun protection: Coppertone MyUVAlert (Free). If you're going to the beach or spending time outdoors, this free app can help you with sun protection. Enter a location, and you get a local UV index forecast and recommendations on what sun protection gear to use. The app works for the entire family, since you can get sunscreen product profiles for every family member. You'll never forget to reapply sunscreen, since the app creates reminders based on product, activity, and personal preferences. Me? I'll just stay inside and have a beer or three.

Virtual beaches: Can't make it to the beach because you (like me) are in a landlocked location? That Beach Channel ($0.99) is designed as a relaxation app, featuring ten beaches around the world that were captured in HD with stereo sound. It doesn't require a network connection, so if you're stuck in a camping tent in a rainstorm for a day, you can make everyone happy by showing them the beach. Then again, they may conspire to kill you for not going to the beach instead of that mosquito-ridden campground. My personal choice for virtual beachcombing is to use LiveCams ($0.99) or LiveCams HD ($1.99, for iPad) and zoom in one of the beaches available out of more than 3000 public webcams.

Virtual (and real) fireworks: If you're not going to be able to see a fireworks show in person, perhaps you can set off some fireworks on your iPhone or iPad. There are a number of wonderful and inexpensive apps that let you watch a virtual fireworks show. Fireworks ($0.99) runs on both iPhone and iPad, features 15 locales from across the world (plus one off-planet) that appear on-screen with the fireworks, and lets you play music from your own music library. Fireworks! ($0.99) lets you shoot off fireworks by tapping on your iPhone or iPad screen. My personal favorite of the bunch is iLoveFireworks ($0.99), which to me has the most realistic-looking pyrotechnics.

Speaking of fireworks, remember that if you're at a fireworks show you can share the fun with your friends by using your iPhone to take photos and video. Even better, use the free Ustream Live Broadcaster app to livestream the explosions, oohs, and ahhs.

Historical documents: Lest we forget, the Fourth of July isn't all about fireworks, food, and sunburn. It's a celebration of July 4, 1776, when a group of brave and forward-thinking souls declared their new nation's independence from Great Britain. Declaration for iPhone and iPod touch is a free app from Clint Bagwell Consulting that shows the text of the Declaration of Independence on both an image of the original document and in text, includes notes about the Declaration, and details about the signers. This app and the companion Constitution app (also free) are wonderfully designed apps to give students of American history access to the original documents.

What are your suggestions for July 4th-related iPhone apps? Leave your comments below. From all of us here at TUAW, we wish you and your family a happy Independence Day.

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