There are a ton of things you can do with your mobile device, but a lot of them involve you sitting in your office or your house while you poke a screen. You don’t generally associate your mobile device with being out in the world doing things. I don’t mean walking down the street listening to music, I mean apps that actually make you go out and do something.
Some of these are going to be specific apps and some are going to be categories with many apps. I’ll link to the appropriate websites and app stores for both.
Cost: Free with some paid apps available.
GeoCaching is basically treasure hunting. Someone hides something, marks it on a map and you go find it. You used to have to enter co-ordinates in a GPS device and then go to them but now, with Google Maps, you can just bring up the map and see what’s around. What do you usually find in these caches? Well, it could be anything, really, but it’s usually a waterproof container of some sort with a log book. You sign the log and then put it back exactly (exactly!) where you got it so that the next person can find it. Sometimes the container is a bit bigger and there will be something inside to trade with. It might be a coin, or a toy, or something else that isn’t going to be outright stolen. You take the item and replace it with something of your own. If you really get into it, you can buy custom physical GeoCaching tags to leave.
This is a great way to explore the world around you. You can find caches in the city, in the wild and all over the world. It’s also a great way to get your family out of the house and moving. Taking your kids on a real life treasure hunt should thrill them into getting off the couch!
Cost: Approx. $4 on Android and iTunes, Approx. $2 on Windows Phone for an older version.
There are many exercise apps out there, but none of them really give you a reason to exercise, other than… exercising. Zombies, Run! is an app that makes you want to exercise. This app story-fies your run by playing an audio narrative. You put your headphones in and the Zombies, Run! app will tell you what to do. It might tell you that you need to run a certain distance to pick up some supplies or recruit some survivors. From time to time the zombies spot you and you have to run faster for a bit to get away from them. You can listen to your music while running as well. The app will just pause your song and give you the instructions. They even have an app specifically for 5k training, so if you’re in to that, check it out.
This isn’t in the same category as the other ones, but it’s definitely worth a mention. Basically, with this app you can choose a charity and start walking, running or biking. For every mile you walk or run, a corporate sponsor will donate $0.25 to the charity you picked. You get $0.10 per mile for biking. They have a bunch of great charities like Autism Speaks, Wounded Warrior Project, Every Mother Counts and more.
Ingress is, for me, the coolest thing in this list. It’s a game that makes you interact with your physical surroundings. It’s kind of like GeoCaching with a story. The story is that something is invading the world and you need to decide if you will be for it or against it. Regardless of what team you choose, you need to capture, upgrade and defend portals. You can link portals together, and if you link three you get what is called a control area. There is more to it, but that’s the gist of it. The portals are pieces of public art, historical buildings, museums, libraries, churches, unique stores and other cool things in your city. The coolest part of this game is that you meet other people on your team in your area. You can discuss strategy to take over the other teams portals, find new ones and hack portals to get items. Oftentimes you can even find groups of people who meet up to play the game. It’s loads of fun. You can even take pictures of local attractions and submit them as new portals.
The game is developed by The Niantic Project, which is a company within Google. It is in beta, so when you sign up you will be put on a list and sent an invite. It only took a few hours for me to get my invite, but some people have waited days or weeks. I don’t know what makes you more or less likely to get an invite but it may be where you are located. People who are already playing may have invites, so if you know someone who plays you might be able to get right in. You could even do a Google search for a group of players at your location. If you live in a big city like Toronto, Vancouver or Calgary, finding people will not be a problem. If you live in a smaller place, you might not have as much luck.
It’s Android only, so check it out on Google Play!
These are just a few things that you can do. There are tons of ways to drag yourself off the couch and get outside without releasing the kung-fu deathgrip you have on your phone. What outdoor activities do you like to do with your phone? What did I miss? Let me know in the comments below!