While apps are not yet as American as apple pie, there are more than a few that showcase the best and brightest features of our country. They are also very helpful in planning any Fourth of July celebrations. Here are our five favorite apps to honor and celebrate Independence Day.
This American Life (iPhone, iPod Touch, Android: $2.99, iPad: $4.99)
This American Life host Ira Glass, in many ways, is the Founding Father of long-form journalism and storytelling in the digital era. His weekly one-hour program that chronicles the stories of everyday Americans has been a mainstay on National Public Radio for nearly two decades and is consistently one of the top downloaded Podcasts on iTunes. The app contains more than 425 episodes of the program as well as audio and video extras to please any TAL fanatic. You can also browse for segments by contributor and share your favorite episodes with friends on Facebook and Twitter. The iPad version includes a few super-sized bells and whistles for your enjoyment. And while you can hear most recent episodes on This American Life for free via the Podcast (as well as weekly episodes on your local NPR station), ponying-up a few bucks helps to keep the lights on at the non-profit venture. Consider it your app pledge of allegiance.
Roadside America (iPhone, iPod Touch: $2.99)
Roadside America contains a plethora of strange stuff to see, including the big, the small, the spooky, the religious, the natural, the unnatural and the historic, among many, many others. The iPhone app relies on your location to let you know of nearby sites, which is equally helpful when you’re on the road or sitting in your living room. You can even scope out the strange by city if you know where you’ll be passing through. Roadside America also includes browsing by more than 70 pre-created themes, including crime, dinosaurs, freaky hoo-ha, monsters, Route 66 and Zombie Army. There are seven regions to explore, and users get free access to one with the download. Thereafter, an in-app purchase of $5.99 is required to cruise through all 8,000 locations (or you can purchase access to other regions a la carte).
Fireworks (iPhone, iPod Touch: $0.99)
If you're disappointed that you won't be near a grand fireworks display for the Fourth of July, download the Fireworks app, and create your own. The app synchronizes with the music in your iTunes library to set off your own personal display. Choose from 15 locales around the world. Set your preferred fireworks size and even the amount of sparks.
Stack the States (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad: $0.99)
Just because school isn’t in session on July 4th doesn’t mean it’s a day without any learning. In this fun geography education game, kids learn capitals, the shape of states and their locations on the U.S. map. There is also a slight physics component involving literally staking states on top of one another. Beyond being a great app for young learners, I can think of a few adults who could benefit from playing Stack the States.