Apps to help you beat the heat

From books to news, here’s a plan to keep you occupied indoors as the mercury soars


Magzter is a popular service which offers Indian as well as international digital magazines.
Magzter is a popular service which offers Indian as well as international digital magazines.

It’s so hot that you may prefer to stay indoors. If you enjoy reading or music, these apps could help you sail through summer.

Amazon Kindle

Android, iOS, BlackBerry and Windows Phone; free to download, pay per book purchase

When it comes to e-books, the Kindle apps win hands down. The sheer variety of titles available for purchase is mind-boggling. At the time of going to press, there were 134,052 books categorized under crime, thriller and mystery, and 170,509 books that history lovers can pick from—the numbers leave every rival service far behind.

The latest update for the apps, released in April, adds the Word Wise feature—short definitions of difficult words appear automatically above each word. The idea is to allow uninterrupted reading and make it simpler for readers to understand the meaning of uncommon or difficult words in that specific context. The latest version provides information about the author and the book before you start reading.

Saavn

Android and iOS; free for basic users; Rs.120 a month (Lite); $3.99, around Rs.250, a month (Pro)

This is an online streaming service that puts music at your fingertips. Saavn, a popular service, offers all the music from the latest Bollywood films, and has a vast library of English, Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi, Marathi, Bengali,

Kannada, Gujarati, Malayalam and Bhojpuri tracks too.

In April, the app was updated to add the Social feature, which is a good way of discovering music you may have missed out on otherwise. After you link your Facebook account with the app, you can see a list of friends who also use Saavn, access their shared playlists and recommendations, and have real-time conversations with them. Users can also follow artistes and the updates they post, and listen to public playlists posted by other users.

Flipboard

Android, iOS and Windows Phone; free

It started off as a beautiful news app, but has evolved into something much more. So much so that Samsung has integrated a specially customized Briefing by Flipboard feature in the TouchWiz interface on its latest phones—Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge.

The latest update rolled out in April allows users to share magazines they curate with selected group of friends. These magazines are put together, refreshed and updated based on user-selected topics, themes and sources; they get the same beautiful packaging as the rest of the app—it is appealing to look at on a phone or a tablet screen. And given the detailed customization about what content you want to read and share, it can be a rather good source.

Magzter Gold subscription

Android and iOS, Rs.499 a month

Magzter is a popular service which offers Indian as well as international digital magazines. In March, 500 titles were added to the bouquet—there are now more than 2,500 magazine titles, with all the latest issues being added instantly.

A month earlier, in February, a flat-rate subscription service called Magzter Gold had been made available for Rs.499 a month. Last week, a Family Plan feature that lets four in a family share a subscription was added.

As part of the Gold plan, users can access old and new issues and read them as many times as they want. These issues can be downloaded for reading at a later time—perhaps when Wi-Fi or 3G is not available. A nifty bookmarks feature lets you mark articles across magazines which can be accessed later in one place.

The app sends a notification when a new issue is available to download. Magazine categories include news, technology, automotive, fashion, health and sports. Some of the popular titles include Outlook, Maxim, Filmfare and Popular Photography.

Magazines that aren’t part of the Gold subscription package can be purchased separately, with the user paying extra for every issue.

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