Making better use of smartphone veg-out time
August 16, 2015 10:46 AM   Subscribe

What are some apps that can make better use of my down time? I currently dip into Hay Day, a farming game, if I want to relax for a bit. It would be great if all those spare moments could be used for something useful - think distributed computing projects such as SETI and Folding@home, but for humans.

Some criteria:
  • Is compelling - if it feels like work it won't work (heh) as a veg-out choice
  • Is casual - should be easy to pick up and put down at any time
  • Has some sort of real-world benefit, either intended or unintended
The closest examples I can think of are Free Rice (give rice to the needy while improving your vocabulary) and Duolingo (learn a language while translating the web), which are great but not quite there. A less relevant example is Google reCAPTCHA, a service that digitises text while helping websites verify human users. Another reason I'm asking is that I'm building something to address this need, so any ideas or suggestions are also welcome.
posted by fix to Grab Bag (5 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
 
This game lets you help analyze tumor samples for cancer research.
posted by three_red_balloons at 10:52 AM on August 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


My first thought was Zooniverse and similar citizen science projects. Here's a list of mobile-friendly/en-app-enated projects, and here's two more general/comprehensive lists.
posted by kagredon at 12:03 PM on August 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


In Phylo, you solve puzzles that are actually aligning DNA sequences of different species. This is something computers still aren't good at, so crowd sourcing the alignments helps researchers locate the best ones.
posted by hydropsyche at 1:47 PM on August 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the suggestions so far! I tried a few out and they look promising. Apps without a 'hidden goal' are welcome too: I used to play Digital Gene's Constellation Puzzle for relaxation and now I know my constellations:D
posted by fix at 7:41 AM on August 17, 2015


I was going to suggest Google Image Labeler, but it was discontinued in 2001 (where has the time gone??!) I see something similar on Android: Image Labeler. I can't tell if it's just a game or if it is actually building the repository of search terms.
posted by CathyG at 10:54 AM on August 17, 2015


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