9 Offline Smartphone Apps to Keep You Entertained on Your Commute

We've got a world of entertainment options at our fingertips with a smartphone. But without an internet connection while traveling, like on a long car ride or plane trip, most of those options are useless.

The good news is that with a little planning, many iPhone and Android apps can entertain you while on a commute or any other time when you're without Wi-Fi or a cell signal. These apps are also great for conserving data if you're on a limited plan.

1. Spotify

As long as you're a Premium member, it's easy to bring Spotify content offline. You can download up to 10,000 songs on a maximum of five different devices. Along with specific songs, it's also possible to sync albums, playlists, and podcasts offline.

Obviously, you'll need an internet connection to download songs. And to keep everything on your device, Spotify requires you to go online at least once every 30 days.

To start, tap the My Library icon. When you find something to download, select the download icon, which looks like a downward arrow surrounded by a circle. Anytime you're offline, that icon will show you content that's available to play without an internet connection.

Download: Spotify for iOS | Android (Free, subscription available)

2. YouTube

To say the number of videos available on YouTube is vast is definitely an understatement. You can download these videos offline as long as you're a subscriber to YouTube Premium.

When online, a subscription also allows you to watch videos without ads, as well as keeping videos playing while using other apps or when the screen is locked. A subscription also provides access to the YouTube Music Premium offering. If you're considering a subscription, take a look at our primer that tackles if YouTube Premium is worth the cost.

To download a video, select the download icon below the video icon. You'll then select the video quality to download. Higher-quality video will take up more space on your device, of course. When complete, a downloaded icon---a checkmark with a line below it---will appear. Downloaded videos will appear in the Library tab.

Download: YouTube for iOS | Android (Free, subscription available)

3. Amazon Kindle

After purchasing an Amazon Kindle book, downloading it to your device is easy. Head to the Library tab in the app. When you find the title to download, you can simply tap the cover and it will automatically start downloading. Alternatively, long-press the title to see many different options, including downloading.

To see your downloaded titles, select the Downloaded section in the same Library tab.

Download: Amazon Kindle for iOS | Android (Free)

4. Pocket Casts

Podcasts continue to grow in popularity and offer an almost unending amount of entertainment on just about any subject you can imagine. Pocket Casts is a great all-around podcast player that allows you to find the perfect podcast episode and download it to listen without an internet connection.

When you find something you'd like to save, just hit the Download button on the episode page. To find all of your downloaded podcasts, select the Profile tab, then choose Downloads to start listening.

The app is more than just a way to listen to podcasts offline. You can easily build a playback queue from your favorite subscriptions, trim silence, change the playback speed, and much more. Anyone with an Apple Watch can control playback and adjust volume without having to touch their iPhone.

Download: Pocket Casts for iOS | Android (Free, subscription available)

5. Pocket

We've all found an article we want to read but don't have time for at the moment. Pocket is the perfect way to save any content on the web to read later. You can install an app on your mobile device---as well as an extension on your desktop---and use that to save an article to the service.

And the best part about Pocket is that you don't need to do anything to download an article to read without an internet connection. The service takes care of that automatically. All articles are stripped of the clutter found on many sites so you can focus on just the content. As a nice touch, Pocket can also read an article out loud.

Download: Pocket for iOS | Android (Free, subscription available)

6. Google Maps

Google Maps is much more than just a navigation app. You can easily plan the perfect vacation or just find a spot to unwind after a long day on a business trip. And you can do that without an internet connection by downloading the map of a location to your smartphone.

While online, search for a location. On that page, hit the Download button. You'll confirm the area to download.

To find downloaded maps, select your profile image and then Offline maps. From there, you can get directions/see routes, use navigation, and search for locations.

Download: Google Maps for iOS | Android (Free)

7. Disney+

While Netflix is still the king of streaming services, the content available to download can be hit or miss. Just when you find a perfect movie or TV show you'd like to watch offline, you may find that it's not available to save.

But that's not a problem with Disney+. Everything on the great service---from Star Wars to Marvel and more---is available to download and view offline.

To download an episode or movie, just select the download icon. To find all the content you've downloaded, just select the same icon on the bottom bar of the app.

Download: Disney+ for iOS | Android (Free, subscription required)

8. Audible

For audiobook fans, Audible is the place to go, offering a great selection of books to listen to. And you can easily download any title you've purchased to listen offline.

In the smartphone app, head to the Library tab to see your purchased titles. Tap the cover to start downloading the audiobook immediately. When offline, tap the Downloaded section to see all of the titles you can listen to without a connection.

If you're new to the audiobook service, make sure to take a look at some insider tips to get the most out of Audible.

Download: Audible for iOS | Android (Free, subscription available)

9. Shine - Journey of Light

If you're looking for a change of pace to keep you entertained offline, Shine - Journey of Light is a great choice. This beautiful game is a journey through shadow and light that focuses on friendship.

There are 40 levels to explore while looking for lost friends. Make sure to bring your headphones while playing, as the interactive soundtrack uses 3D sound technology to provide a unique audio experience. And the game is made for all ages to enjoy.

Download: Shine - Journey of Light for iOS ($3.99) | Android (Free, in-app purchases available)

Keep Entertained Offline With Smartphone Apps

There's no need to worry while commuting, whether that's on a short subway trip or something longer. With a few minutes of work, you can leave the internet connection behind and still stay entertained for the entire journey.

And if you also need to stay on top of work without an internet connection, there are also many killer productivity tools that work offline.


How to View Your Laptop’s Battery Cycle Count on Windows and Mac

As you probably know, batteries are consumable items. While the battery in your laptop will hopefully last for several years, its performance degrades over time as you use it. This means the battery doesn't last as long, even at 100 percent charge.

To quantify how much you've used your device's battery, you can check the battery cycles. We'll show you how to run a battery cycle count on your Windows laptop or MacBook.

What Is a Battery Cycle?

A battery cycle simply refers to one full drain of the battery's charge from 100 to zero percent. This doesn't have to happen all at once. For example, if your laptop battery drains from 100 percent to 50 percent, then you charge it back up to 100 percent and let it drop to 50 percent again, that counts as one cycle.

The lower your laptop's battery cycle count, the "healthier" its battery is. A healthy battery will hold close to its factory-maximum charge, compared to one that's been heavily used.

Thankfully, both Windows and macOS provide an easy way for you to check the battery cycle count. Whether you're curious how much you've worked your battery over the years or want to check a used machine before buying it, here's how to check the cycle count.

How to Check Battery Cycles on Windows 10

On a Windows laptop, you can check the battery cycles using a quick Command Prompt command. To open this, right-click on the Start button (or press Win + X) and choose Command Prompt or Windows PowerShell from the menu that appears.

When you see the Command Prompt, type this command:

powercfg /batteryreport

Next, head to your user folder and look for battery-report.html at this location:

C:\Users\[USERNAME]\battery report.html

Double-click on this file and it should open in your default browser. Have a look at the Installed batteries section to see the Design Capacity and the Full Charge Capacity.

Design Capacity is the original charge maximum, while Full Charge Capacity is how much charge your laptop is capable of holding now. The Cycle Count shows you how many times the battery has gone through a charge. If these two numbers are pretty close, then you have a healthy battery.

Below this, you'll see some information on recent battery usage, which can help if you need to troubleshoot anything specific. To get more info, check out Windows apps to analyze battery life.

How to Check Battery Cycles on a MacBook

To review the battery cycle count on your MacBook, click the Apple menu at the top-left and choose About This Mac. On the resulting window, click the System Report button to see much more info in a new window.

Under the Hardware header on the left, click the Power section. Then, under Health Information, you'll see a Cycle Count entry with the number of cycles so far.

macOS also displays a Condition here. If your battery is still going strong, you'll see Normal here. Service Recommended displays when your battery is into replacement territory.

For a lot more information on your Mac's battery, consider installing an app for managing your Mac's battery life. These show you the current and original maximum charge, as well as helping you maintain your battery health over time in some cases.

Keep in mind that macOS Catalina 10.15.5 includes a new battery health management feature that can automatically lower your battery's maximum capacity at certain times, in order to keep your battery healthy for longer.

See Apple's battery cycle count page for information on how long your battery should last. Most modern MacBooks are rated for 1,000 cycles.

Keep Your Battery's Health Up

Now you know how to check if your laptop battery is almost consumed or not. Don't fret too much about battery cycles; using your battery is a natural part of having a laptop. In many cases, you can replace the battery for a reasonable charge, and it still works after it passes a certain number of cycles.

In the meantime, taking basics actions like lowering your brightness will help reduce the amount of power your laptop consumes, slowing the amount of time it takes you to go through battery cycles.

Image Credit: Horoscope/Shutterstock


6 Default Windows Files and Folders You Should Never Touch

In addition to your personal files and folders, the Windows OS itself takes up a lot of space on your computer. With a bit of searching, you can find hidden Windows caches that are safe to clear if you need to reclaim space.

However, there are several other Windows default files and folders that you should leave alone. Messing with these could result in an unstable system, loss of data, or other horrible consequences. Let's discuss the places that most users shouldn't mess with in their travels through the Windows file system.

1. Program Files and Program Files (x86)

Located at C:\Program Files and C:\Program Files (x86)

Whenever you install software, you usually open up an EXE file and run through an installation process (if not, you're using a portable app). During this time, the app creates an entry for itself in the Program Files folder, adds Registry values, and performs other tasks that it needs to work properly on your system.

Thus, if you head into the Program Files folder, you'll find folders for most programs you have installed.

With rare exceptions, you should never need to touch a program's data in these folders. They contain configuration information that the program needs to function. If you start messing with these, you could screw up an app and have to reinstall it.

Further, when you want to uninstall software, the proper way to do it is through Settings > Apps > Apps & features. Deleting an app's folder from Program Files doesn't remove other references to it on your system, and thus is not a clean uninstall.

If you're using a 32-bit version of Windows, you can only install 32-bit software and thus only have one Program Files folder. On 64-bit Windows versions, you'll see an additional Program Files (x86) folder. Your computer stores 32-bit software there, while 64-bit compatible software goes in the standard Program Files folder.

2. System32

Located at C:\Windows\System32

Nearly everything in the C:\Windows folder could fall under this list, but the System32 folder deserves special attention. It holds hundreds of DLL files that are essential to your computer running properly, as well as system programs.

Some examples include the service that handles sound on your PC, files that are essential to booting into Windows, resources that make fonts display correctly, and more. Also contained in this folder are executables for default Windows programs. For instance, calc.exe launches the Calculator, while mspaint.exe launches Microsoft Paint.

While most people don't really have a reason to ever visit System32, it's been the topic of a long-running internet joke. Some people like to mess with novice users and tell them that System32 is a virus, or that deleting it will make their computers run faster.

Obviously, since the folder is critical to Windows functioning, messing with it could mean having to reinstall Windows.

3. Page File

Located at C:\pagefile.sys (Note that you won't see this file unless you click the View tab in File Explorer, choose Options > View, and uncheck Hide protected operating system files. We don't recommend doing this, though.)

Random-access memory, or RAM, inside your computer is responsible for temporarily holding open programs. When you open an instance of Microsoft Word, for example, it's placed in RAM for quick access. This is why having more RAM allows you to run several programs concurrently (check out our guide on RAM for more background).

If your physical RAM starts to fill up, Windows uses what's called a page file or swap file. This is a dedicated portion of your hard drive that acts like RAM. If you have enough RAM on your computer, you should rarely ever see the page file take effect.

However, relying on it often will affect performance, as hard drives are much slower than RAM (especially if you don't have a solid-state drive).

If you scan to see what's taking up space on your computer, chances are that the page file takes up several gigabytes. You might be tempted to disable it to save space, but that's not a good idea. Without a page file, when your RAM maxes out, programs might start crashing instead of swapping into that extra memory.

Windows lets you manage your virtual memory if you must, but most users should let the operating system manage this automatically. If you've got memory problems, you can free up RAM on your PC, but the proper solution is to add more RAM to your system.

4. System Volume Information

Located at C:\System Volume Information (hidden if Hide protected operating system files is checked.)

Another large folder that doesn't have an obvious purpose, the System Volume Information folder actually contains several important Windows functions. In fact, when you try to access it, Windows will give you an Access Denied error.

This folder contains the System Restore points that your computer creates so you can jump back to reverse changes. To decrease this folder's size, you can type Restore Point into the Start Menu and click Create a Restore Point. In this window, click your C: drive and choose Configure.

You can slide the Max Usage bar to a certain amount to reduce the space that System Restore uses, but beware that this decreases your options if you need to do a restoration in the future.

Aside from restore points, System Volume Information also includes data that Windows uses to index your drives. Without this, searches that take an instant would slow to a crawl. It also holds the Volume Shadow Copy service that's required for file backups.

Like other important folders, you should stay away from this one. Don't try to gain access to it or make changes---Windows needs its contents for healthy performance and there's no reason for you to edit it.

5. WinSxS

Located at C:\Windows\WinSxS

WinSxS stands for Windows Side By Side and was created in response to an issue that made working with Windows 9x versions a pain. The colloquial term "DLL Hell" describes the problems that arise when dynamic link library (DLL) files conflict, duplicate, or break.

To fix this, Microsoft started using the WinSxS folder to collect multiple versions of every DLL and load them on demand when Windows runs a program. This increases compatibility, such as when a program needs access to an older DLL that's no longer part of Windows.

The longer you use Windows, the bigger this folder becomes. As you might guess, trying to pick and choose files to delete out of this is a bad idea. You shouldn't ever visit this folder directly; instead, use the Disk Cleanup tool as part of a holistic cleaning routine to clear out unneeded files.

6. D3DSCache

Located at C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Local

We conclude with a folder that isn't as critical for operating system tasks as the above but is still worth mentioning as many people wonder what it is. D3DSCache is a folder that contains cached information for Microsoft's Direct3D API.

This is part of DirectX, which is used for graphics display in games and other intensive software. You shouldn't need to touch the files inside under normal circumstances, and they only take up a few megabytes. However, if you're experiencing game crashes that relate to graphics files, clearing this cache may be a useful step.

Hands Off These System Folders

Windows keeps many folders hidden for a reason. The average user doesn't have any reason to touch these resources directly, as Windows provides ways to manage them that won't risk damage to your system.

When you see a file in a hidden folder that you don't know about, it's best to Google it first so you don't end up damaging your system. Don't forget to make regular backups too, so you can recover your data if something ever goes wrong.