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How to ring in the new year with apps

John D. Sutter
Developers have created plenty of smartphone apps that are useful on New Year's Eve and beyond.
Developers have created plenty of smartphone apps that are useful on New Year's Eve and beyond.
  • Our guide to New Year's-themed smartphone apps
  • Apps help users pour cocktails; watch Times Square festivities; hail cabs, fight hangovers
  • Plenty of apps will help you kick yourself back into shape for the new year
  • New Year's
  • Smartphones

(CNN) -- The start of a new year can be stressful. The parties, the dates, the planning. And then, for the cocktail-inclined, the piercing headaches that follow.

But never fear. Smartphone apps will hold your hand through the whole confetti-splashed ordeal, from midnight Friday through those 2011 resolutions.

Here's a look at a few of our favorite New Year's apps. Think of it as app-focused guide to the holiday, in chronological order:

Step 1: Find a date

This goes out to all the procrastinators. If you're still looking for a date for the night of December 31, you only have a few hours to make this happen. Try an app called Skout (free on iPhones and Android), which finds possible mates based on your GPS coordinates. The perfect New Year's Eve date may be across the street from you right now. There, wasn't that easy?

Step 2: Get your party on

So you have a date. You two could walk into a party empty-handed. But where would the merriment be in that? Finish off 2010 in style by bringing the ingredients for a cocktail from the Mad Men Cocktail Culture app (99 cents on the iPhone), which is based on the hip AMC show.

Your friends will be dazzled by your intimate knowledge of muddling and pouring vintage drinks from the '60s -- and if you forget the steps for that Old Fashioned or Brandy Alexander, just check your phone.

When the conversation dies down, casually bring up some of the cocktail facts listed in the app. "Did you know the Old Fashioned was supposedly created for a Civil War general who didn't like the taste of straight whisky?" Why no, no we didn't, your friends will say in awe-struck unison.

Step 3: Prep for midnight

It's a modern tradition for far-flung friends to send each other text messages at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. But isn't that kind of distracting? For those who would rather enjoy the moment the clock strikes 12 than peck at a QWERTY keyboard, try the "OMG! HNY!!" app (free on Android phones).

Program the app in advance to text a message to a pre-determined list of friends. The default note is (you guessed it) "OMG - HNY!!" which stands for, "Oh my God, happy New Year." So you might want to edit before sending.

If you're in New York City, check out a Times Square app (free on Android and iPhones). It has maps of the flagship New Year's Eve celebration and some fun facts. And if you don't want to wade through that throng of a million people, the app has a live-streaming video feature so you can watch the action wherever you are. Check out the count-down clock to keep tabs on the approaching holiday.

Step 4: Midnight is here!

OMG! It's the new year! After you've kissed your date and clinked a few champagne glasses, load up the Party Whistle app (free on the iPhone) for a little fun. Blow in the iPhone's microphone to activate the party whistle sound and image. Of course, you could always go early-2010 retro and download a Vuvuzela app for a similar -- if not slightly more worldly -- effect.

Step 5: Share the moment

In today's digitized world, a party didn't really happen if someone didn't post about it on the internet. Use a number of photo-sharing and toy camera apps to document your 12 a.m. festivities and share them with friends.

Facebook is the most obvious place for this, but there are many new players, too. If you're being particularly rowdy, try Path (free on the iPhone), an app that limits users to 50 friends in an effort to encourage open and honest communications (i.e., you can post pictures of yourself at a party and not worry about your boss finding them).

Instagram (free on the iPhone) has become a hot app for photo sharing, too, and Hipstamatic ($1.99 on iPhone) is sort of the gold standard for taking funky, blurry, colorized photos that look like they came from a toy camera. They'll make your party look fun even if you only have one friend.

Step 6: Call a cab

If you've been drinking, don't drive -- obviously. For those looking for a cab, check out an app called cab4me (free for the lite version or $1.99 for a pro version -- both on the iPhone). The pro version of the app will estimate your cab fare and show you a quick route home.

Both versions of the app pull up lists of cab companies based on your current location -- so you'll get a ride as quickly as possible. And you can place the call by clicking a button in the app, so no need to write down numbers (which, if you've been drinking, might not be the easiest thing to do anyway).

Step 7: Stamp out that hangover

It's January 1 and your head hurts. Squinting at a tiny, glowing screen may not sound like the best hangover remedy, but if you've got the Hangover Cures app (free on Android) it might actually do you some good.

This funny app includes suggestions from eating pickled fish to drinking a "prairie oyster," which, for the uninitiated, is a drink composed of a raw egg, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Or try "liver and kidney drops," which the app explains this way, apparently quoting from The Telegraph: "an herbal potion of milk thistle, dandelion and other extracts with names straight out of Harry Potter (Schizandra! Berberis!), this bitter tincture helps the two most important organs rid themselves of toxins after a bout of heavy drinking."

Thistle? Bitterness? Harry Potter?! On second thought, maybe skip that one. We hear water and sleep work pretty well, too.

iReport: Share your New Year's celebration

Step 8: Start the new year off right

Sigh. That was a long night. But there are plenty of apps that will help you kick yourself back into shape for the new year. For runners, two worth checking out are Couch to 5K ($2.99 on the iPhone), which aims to train non-runners for a 5 kilometer race; and the Nike + GPS app ($1.99, iPhone), which tracks your running routes and times, helping you improve.

For the less athletically inclined, check out a host of productivity and to-do-list apps that can help you manage your goals for 2011. Here are some Android and iPhone examples from our partners over at the tech blog Mashable.


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