OK, smartphones don't quite fit in with our traditional ideas of the holidays, but that doesn't mean they're the enemy of family time. For the next month, families across the country will finish up their enormous dinners, pour themselves some eggnog, and head to the den, where everyone can bask in the warm glow of their smartphones together — with these seven apps.
And if you use the Sprint $60 Unlimited Plan and the huge HD display on the Galaxy S® 5, you won't need to blow all your gift money on a huge phone bill, or make your beloved family squint at your tiny screen in order to join the fun. It's a holiday miracle, right?
Are you a family of word nerds who have impeccable spelling skills and never use the word "literally" incorrectly? Then you might dig this word game, where up to four players compete to not only spell out words across the game board, but build upon existing words, changing a letter or two by "stacking" letter tiles on top of each other. It is literally the most fun you can have on your Galaxy S 5's huge touchscreen.
Great for: families whose holiday traditions all seem to involve books you read in high school English class.
It's great to stay at Grandma's house for the holidays — except that she still rocks an ancient TV that only gets five channels, and she thinks Wi-Fi is your dog's name. So what are you supposed to do with yourself after Nana goes to bed at 7 PM? Even if you left your laptop at home, you can still use the Netflix app to screen a streaming seasonal classic like Scrooged, Love Actually, or The Nightmare Before Christmas. Phew. You almost had to start looking through old photo albums to entertain yourself.
Great for: traveling 20-somethings that don't want quality time with their elderly relatives to interfere with their binge-watching.
Of course, family holiday togetherness isn't just about fun and games. There are holiday expeditions to coordinate, grocery runs to delegate, and last-second gift-buying trips to freak out over. But this year, instead of relying on your traditional "crumpled Post-It note" to delegate tasks, try Wunderlist. You may have already been using the acclaimed list-making app to manage your own life — but the app is also a collaborative powerhouse that lets you send, share, and edit lists with family and friends, updating them instantly and automatically syncing between your phone, computer, and tablet. You can also attach photos or PDFs to your list, and set reminders for important dates, so that you won't accidentally sleep through Aunt Beth's one-woman production of A Christmas Carol again this year. (Unless you want to. Totally understandable.)
Great for: families whose group email chains tend to devolve into unrelated comments, random jokes, and dancing dog GIFs.
Does your family use their unlimited texts to maintain a group text conversation through every episode of Cosmos? Then you may dig this science-savvy, psychedelic spin on Pac-Man, where two players compete as single-celled motes that must consume the matter around them in order to become larger, and expel matter to move. The Galaxy S 5's HD screens are a great way to get a complete look at the game's lush graphics, which have won it widespread acclaim in the world of gaming.
Great for: families that love physics almost as much as they love classic eat-'em-up arcade games.
Even when your entire family converges on a single house for the holidays, it can be tough to keep track of everyone. Add in a few relatives scattered around the globe who couldn't make the trip home, and you're spending your entire holiday break texting the relatives who are staying with you in order to organize family functions, and instant messaging the relatives who aren't so that you can set up video chats on another messaging service. The Galaxy S 5 provides Hangouts that streamline the process by offering individual and group chat, video chat, and text message functions on a single app — and it amps up the togetherness by letting you turn any group chat into a group video hang with the push of a button.
Great for: families who are spread out across the world, but still want to feel like they're having a holiday dinner together.
If your family holiday dinners tend to turn into debates about the length of the world's longest bridge, the title of Merryl Streep's first movie, and other pieces of totally arcane knowledge, then this trivia app — which allows family members to engage in head-to-head battles over more than 440,000 trivia questions— might be just the after-dinner digestif you've been looking for. Also, the answers are 1. the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge in Japan, and 2. the 1977 film Julia. See? Now you totally have a head start.
Great for: families whose DNA is pretty much encoded with the impulse to obsess over the minute details of useless knowledge.
Have your teenage cousins been trash-talking you since last winter, when they totally schooled you at Rock Band, even though you were in an actual band in college? Invite them for a rematch with this game: each player completes challenges to acquire musicians to add to your band, and tries to achieve total music world domination (no tiny plastic guitar required).
Great for: families that always thought they could totally be the Partridge Family, if not for all that "learning how to play an instrument" business.
This holiday season, give the gift of staying in touch with the Sprint $60 Unlimited Plan and the Galaxy S® 5 phone.
Gabrielle Moss has written mostly funny stuff (but also some serious stuff) for GQ.com, The Hairpin, Nerve, etc. You can follow her here.