We’re living in a streaming world. That’s all well and good when you’re at home, at work, or in a cafe. You can binge watch a TV show, watch a YouTube video, and stream latest releases from Spotify without sparing a thought.
But things change when you’re in a plane, on a trip or on any sort of public transport. If you don’t want to get bored for hours at end, download some entertainment beforehand using the apps listed below.
If you’re a Spotify Premium subscriber, you can download songs on your iPhone or Android phone for offline use. Spotify lets you download up to 3,333 songs on up to three devices. And as long as you connect to the internet once every 30 days, you’ll have continuous offline access to these songs.
Spotify lets you choose if you want to download songs, albums or playlists individually. When you’re browsing around, tap on the Download toggle to start downloading. If you go into your Library section, you’ll be able to download your entire library in one tap.
2. Apple Music
Paying Apple Music subscribers can download songs for offline use. You first need to add a song to your library by tapping the + button. Then tap on the download (a cloud icon) button next to a song, album or playlist to start the download. Once it’s downloaded, you’ll see a Downloaded icon with a checkmark next to the song.
Apple Music also lets you automatically download everything you add to your library. On iOS, go to Settings > Music > Automatic Downloads and turn it on. When you’re in the Library section, tap on Downloaded Music to view all the music that’s stored offline.
On Android, you’ll find the Download button after tapping on the three dotted menu next to songs and playlists. Apple Music also allows you to save songs directly to your SD Card. From the sidebar, tap on Settings > Downloads > Download Location and select a folder in your SD Card.
Download — Apple Music for Android (Free)
YouTube has an Offline feature that’s available only in some countries like India, Pakistan, Egypt, Thailand, Vietnam, South Africa and more (full list here). If you’re in one of those countries, you’ll find a download button next to the video title in the YouTube app.
If you’re in the US or elsewhere, the only officially way to download YouTube videos offline is to sign up for YouTube Red.
While the option isn’t available for everything you can stream on Netflix, you’ll still find a sizeable collection (including Netflix Original Series) that you can download for offline use on iOS and Android.
In the app, you’ll find a special Available for Download section in the sidebar that lists all the movies and TV shows you can download. When you’re browsing around, you’ll find the standard Download button next to movies and TV show episodes. Tap on it and the download will start. You’ll be able to monitor and pause downloads from the My Downloads section.
From Settings, you’ll be able to change the quality of the download file. On Android, there’s another option called Download Location from where you’ll be able to choose any folder you want to save Netflix files to, including an SD Card.
You need to check in every 30 days with an internet connection to continue watching the downloaded media. There’s also a time limit for downloads but it depends on the content. Some will expire in seven days, some in 30 days. Netflix will send you a notification before that’s about to happen.
5. Amazon Prime Video
One of the many benefits of a Prime membership is access to Amazon Prime Video, and the service has had an offline mode for a while now. When you’re browsing a movie or TV show, you’ll find a download button to the right. From Settings, you’ll be able to change the video quality for the video files as well.
The data-friendly way of killing time during your commute is to read. Pocket can be a great way to catch up on all the articles on the web you don’t have time for.
Install Pocket’s app, and their extensions for desktop browser and start saving articles. They’ll be downloaded in the Pocket app and you’ll be able to read them without internet access. Don’t want to read? Use Pocket’s built-in text to speech feature to have it read to you.
7. Podcast Apps
Listening to podcasts is a great way to learn new things or be entertained when you can’t really do anything else. You can listen to podcasts when you’re walking to work (when you can’t really watch or read), walking your dog, or even doing chores around the house.
Just pick a podcast app — Overcast or Podcasts app on iOS, PodBeam or Pocket Casts on Android — and start downloading podcasts you find interesting. New podcasts will be downloaded automatically when you’re on Wi-Fi.
Subscribe to half a dozen podcasts and you’ll never be in a position where you’re stuck in a subway with nothing to do (which is the worst).
8. Hyper News [No Longer Available]
Hyper News is like a video podcasts app but for news. When you’re at home, connected to Wi-Fi, the app will download short news videos automatically to your iPhone. When you’re on your commute, just open the app and start playing them. By the time you get to work, you’ll be all caught up and ready for the water cooler talk.
9. gReader [No Longer Available]
Google Reader is dead but gReader is still here, alive and kicking. gReader is a feature rich yet simple RSS reader that lets you manually add sources and syncs with Feedly as well. gReader’s offline sync feature works reliably so you’ll have the latest feed ready to read when you step on the subway.
Newsify is a news and RSS reader that will automatically download new articles from subscribed sites. You can add sources directly from Newsify or just connect your Feedly account. Newsify is a free app that comes with ads (but that shouldn’t be a problem when you’re reading news articles in offline mode).
If you don’t mind paying, look into Reeder 3 for iPhone and iPad. It is, in my opinion, the best RSS reader for iOS.
Download — Newsify for iOS (Free)
While it’s not the best experience, you can still read entire books on your iPhone, iPad or Android device. Just download the Kindle app, buy some books, and start reading.
Again, reading on a crowded subway can be a bit too much. This is where audiobooks come in. If you’re looking for a no-nonsense approach to audiobooks, just download Audible and buy audiobooks from there. For free options, check out the LibriVox app for Android [No Longer Available] and Audiobooks app on iOS.
And Don’t Forget the Work Files
We’re increasingly moving to a world where work documents are stored in the cloud. But an internet connection isn’t available everywhere. What if you want to access an important document, or looks something up on a PDF that’s stored in your work Dropbox account? It’s best to plan ahead and have these important files stored offline always.
In the Dropbox app on Android, open the file in question and select Available Offline. On iOS, the option is called Make Available Offline. You’ll find similar options in Google Drive and apps like Google Docs, Sheets, Quip and so on.
For more entertainment that doesn’t require an internet connection, check out these iPhone and iPad games that work offline:
Image Credits: Iakov Filimonov/Shutterstock