12 apps that will make your commute more tolerable, according to my coworkers

For most workers, commuting is just an accepted part of our daily existence.

According to US Census data, the average American spends almost an hour commuting every work day. About 127 million of commuters do so by driving, either alone or in a carpool, in a car, truck, or van, while almost 8 million use public transportation.

With so many people spending so much time commuting, I wondered about some of the ways people make their commute more tolerable. My personal choice is to post up against a wall somewhere on the train and knit while listening to audible, but of course, that option really isn’t for everyone.

So, being that I work for a fairly tech-obsessed online publication, I decided to ask my colleagues to share the apps they can’t live without on their daily commute. To be fair, not a whole lot of my colleagues commute to and from work by driving, but many of their suggestions could work just as well in a car as on the bus or train.

Here’s what they had to share:



Emily Cohn, a senior business editor at Business Insider, has a commute that consists of two 35 to 40 minute train rides with no service.

She says: 'You can download the entire day's newspaper before your ride so it's all available offline. There's also a great morning news digest at the top of the app that's a good rundown of the day's top news and it only takes two to three minutes to read.'

Cost: Free to download; subscriptions start at $3.75 per week

Available on: iPhone, Android



Clinton Nguyen, Business Insider's innovation intern, commutes for about 30 minutes each way on the train.

He says: 'By now we all know the persistent vagaries and delays the trains hand us daily -- CityMapper makes the trip a lot better by actively tracking the lines so I don't have to. Plus, it tells me why there's been a delay so I can figure out if I should just wait it out or seek alternative routes, which it also conveniently provides.'

Cost: Free

Available on: iPhone, Android



Before working from home, Daniel McMahon commuted for about an hour on the train if he wasn't biking to work.

He says: 'The one app I liked best, at least in recent years, has been the 'Podcasts' app that comes with iPhones. I would have podcasts already downloaded when I got on the train, and I could listen to any number of podcasts to suit my mood -- comedy, news, features, interviews, sports, etc.'

Cost: Free to download

Available on: iPhone


Lori Janjigian, a tech editorial intern at US Business Insider, has an hour-long commute on the Metro-North Commuter Railroad and then a short ride to get to work.

She says: 'My commute cuts it close when it comes to getting into the office. I rely on Starbucks mobile order so I don't add more time in the morning by waiting on line. It also cuts down on my spending because I easily order the same $2 coffee every day without thinking about possibly ordering something else. When the mobile app is down for whatever reason it really ruins my morning.'

Cost: Free to download

Available on: iPhone, Android



Justin Gmoser, a video producer for Business Insider, commutes for about a half hour.

He says: 'As a journalist, I am inundated with news stories all day. But I can't keep up with everything when I am working on my own stories. That's where 'Pocket' comes in. When I see interesting headlines throughout the day that I don't have time to read, I will add them to 'Pocket' to read during my commute home. The best part about the app is that you can read the articles offline, which is essential for the subway.'

Cost: Free

Available on: iPhone, Android


Business Insider

Christina Sterbenz, Business Insider's weekend editor, spends a little less than 15 minutes total commuting each day.

She says:

'My commute is too short (and usually too crowded) for me to take out a book and read, but I use 'Instapaper' almost every day. The app allows you to save articles and access them later, even without wifi. You can highlight, quote, message, email, and tweet directly from the app as well.

'I have the Google Chrome extension on my work and personal laptops, so if I come across a long story I don't have the time to read then, I 'Instapaper' it for later. I also 'Instapaper' any important news stories that I may have received alerts for during the night to make sure I'm caught up before arriving in the office.'

Cost: Free; a premium account costs US$2.99 per month or US$29.99 a year

Available on: iPhone, Android

Dark Sky

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Jeremy Berke, a front page news reporter at Business Insider, takes the subway every day from Brooklyn.

He says: ''Dark Sky' is the best. It gives you an up-to-the-minute weather forecast so you can see exactly what you should be wearing before you step outside, as well as helps you plan for later in the day. It will even warn you when exactly rain will fall so you can plan your dash to the train accordingly.'

Cost: $2.99-$3.99

Available on: iPhone, Android


Jacqui Kenyon, Business Insider's senior syndication editor, takes the subway to work, about a 30-minute journey door-to-door.

She says: 'The app aggregates excellent longform journalism from magazines, newspapers, and online publications, often surfacing stories from sources I probably wouldn't have found on my own. I pre-load the day's new stories before heading underground, and then spend my generally overcrowded train ride absorbed in some great journalism.'

Cost: Free

Available on: iPhone

Colour Switch


Joe Avella, a video producer at Business Insider, commutes on the subway for 30 to 45 minutes.

He says: 'I like to zone out listening to podcasts, and 'Colour Switch' is a simple enough game to keep me mildly engaged but still able to pay attention to the podcast.'

Cost: Free

Available on: iPhone, Android


David Anderson, an associate video producer at Business Insider, commutes on the train.

He says: ''Headspace' is an app with basically audio tapes of guided meditation. I know it seems nearly impossible to find a moment of zen on a crowded train, but it totally works. It's a great app in general, but it also has a special grouping of meditations for all kinds of commutes, from walking to driving to bicycling.'

Cost: Free to download; a yearly membership costs $7.99 per month

Available on: iPhone, Android



Biz Carson, a tech reporter at Business Insider, commutes via a 10-minute subway ride.

She says: 'I don't have as much time in my commute to pull out a book, so 'Hooked' is great for getting my heart racing or bringing tears to my eyes in just a few minutes. The stories on 'Hooked' are all short stories told through a texting-like conversation between two people, but the text back and forth are all you need to get invested into the story. Because they're each only a few minutes long, I can get through one to two stories on my commute without having to invest my time in a full-length novel!'

Cost: Free to download and use; an unlimited account costs $2.99 a week or $39.99 a year

Available on: iPhone, Android



Emmie Martin, an associate editor at Business Insider, commutes for almost 40 minutes on the subway from Brooklyn.

She says: 'At first I was sceptical, but I've grown to love reading books on my phone. Some days it's nearly impossible to juggle holding an actual book (or an e-reader) on a crowded subway car, so it's convenient to have all my books on my phone. Plus, I can download free books directly from the library onto the app.'

Cost: Free to download; most books cost money

Available on: iPhone, Android

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