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The best apps for ignoring your family on Thanksgiving

November 23rd, 2016 at 4:21 PM
thanksgiving apps

Turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie and awkward conversations with relatives — it’s not even Thanksgiving day yet and I’m already over it. You probably are, too, which means you’re going to spend a decent chunk of your Thursday staring mindlessly at your smartphone in the hopes that it can entertain you while NFL teams you don’t care about knock each other silly on the living room TV.

For your own sanity, it’s probably a good idea to get your go-to “Is the turkey done yet?” app lineup ready. 

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Words With Friends (Free, iOS/Android)

This one might seem like a softball, but this stalwart Scrabble clone is actually better than ever during holiday get-togethers. If none of your fellow attendees is a WWF diehard, starting a game with a random player is easier than ever during Thanksgiving. You see, there’s lots of bored people out there waiting for the turkey to hit the table, so you can get some really fast-paced match-ups going. Rather than waiting for hours or days between moves, you’ll usually be able to just keep the app open and play the game in realtime. It’s a life saver.

5-0 Radio (Free, iOS)

I’ll let you in on my own personal Thanksgiving ritual: While everyone is either glued to the television or engaging in a conversation they definitely already had at least a dozen times this year, I boot up my police scanner app and listen in. Why? Because Thanksgiving is also when all the most insane Black Friday deal hunters start lining up at stores and jostling for position. Inevitably, at least a dozen different fights break out, and it’s quite entertaining to hear the dispatcher and officers chatter about how a $12 blender led to three bloody lips and broken ankle. It’s like a live episode of Cops, via your smartphone.

Pokemon Go (Free, iOS/Android)

There’s no denying that Pokemon Go is the ultimate weapon against boredom, but you probably didn’t even consider its usefulness when it comes to painful family get-togethers. Unlike most games, Pokemon Go actually gives you an excuse to walk away from an awkward conversation. Don’t feel like listening to Uncle Larry — who, for some reason, wore paint-stained jeans to Thanksgiving dinner — debate the merits of Donald Trump’s economic plan with your liberal art student cousin? Worry not, because there’s a Squirtle chilling out in the backyard that desperately needs to be caught.

Whisper (Free, iOS/Android)

If you’re the kind of person who inevitably starts to feel like your family is dysfunctional whenever a big holiday gathering comes along, it’s nice to be able to put things in perspective. Whisper is all about sharing secrets and revealing things you just have to get off your chest, but don’t want to attach your name to. Go ahead and let it all out, and then take the time to read some of the other posts that flood in to the app every second. There are some real gems floating around out there, and chances are, you’ll come away feeling not only normal, but fortunate that your life isn’t even remotely the weirdest thing on the app.

Reigns ($2.99, iOS/Android)

Your grandma’s bad hip becomes the hot topic of conversation in the living room, but you’ll be too busy managing your own empire to notice. Reigns is a charming, hilarious kingdom management game that simplifies all of your big decisions into a swipe. Think of it like Tinder, but for managing a medieval empire. Decision after decision will fall into your lap and it’s up to you to keep everyone as happy as possible, and see how long you can balance it all before one group decides to brutally murder you. Actually, this sounds a lot like a Thanksgiving dinner, come to think of it.

Mike Wehner has reported on technology and video games for the past decade, covering breaking news and trends in VR, wearables, smartphones, and future tech.

Most recently, Mike served as Tech Editor at The Daily Dot, and has been featured in USA Today,, and countless other web and print outlets. His love of reporting is second only to his gaming addiction.

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