Long summer weekends are just about the best time of the year. You get to look forward to bonfires and barbecues with friends, patriotic parades, and of course, fireworks.
But when you’re living the nerd life, there’s no time of year that can’t be made just a little bit better with the proper application of the right technology. To help you push your holiday weekend into awesome territory, check out these 10 apps and gadgets designed just for nerds like us.
With all the different aspects of truly rocking Fourth of July, it might be easier to divide up the apps and gadgets into categories, like patriotism, fireworks, and cookouts.
The Fourth of July isn’t just a long summer weekend; it’s also a birthday celebration for the United States of America. So it’s worth nerding out with some patriotic apps that put the fun into context.
Declaration: This free iOS app includes an image of the original Declaration of Independence as well as the words in easy-to-read text version. You also get biographies of all the people who signed it.
We the People: A free Android app that holds the entire document.
July 4th Fun, Facts & Trivia for iOS: The original documents are cool, but for real Fourth of July fun, you can’t beat a free collection of random facts that you can trot out over hot dogs and beer, which include details on the first Independence Day celebrations.
Sure, becoming a country was important, but sometimes it just seems like an awesome excuse for fireworks—in real life or on your phone. Digital fireworks are much safer than the gunpowder kind, and they make a fun way to abide by your local laws and regulations.
Fireworks for iOSFireworks for iOS: Create light shows at more than a dozen famous sites (not all in the U.S., unfortunately), with cool colors and noises. The $.99 app also works as a visualizer for iTunes so you can synch it with your favorite music.
Fireworks for Android: Launch your fireworks into the air just by tapping on screen in this completely separate free app. There’s even a New Year’s Eve countdown for that “other” holiday that features loud explosions in the sky.
MapMuse: Fireworks on your phone are fine, but nothing beats the real thing. The MapMuse website can help you find a display near you.
Cooking and eating outdoors is perhaps the most important summer holiday tradition of all. With your friends and family in the right setting, it’s fun even if you burn the frozen burgers. But technology can help you go above and beyond and make the food live up to the moment.
Weber’s On the Grill: This $4.99 iOS and Android app boasts hundreds of grilling recipes for beef, pork, poultry, seafood, and vegetables (not to mention rubs, marinades, and sauces)—along with associated grocery shopping lists. There are even timers to make sure you don’t scorch the dogs while you’re off playing Frisbee.
iGrill meat thermometer: When grilling meat, cooking time isn’t always the best measurement of when it’s ready to eat. You need to know the internal temperature, which requires an awkward, hard-to-use meat thermometer—unless you have the Bluetooth-connected iGrill, which lets you check the temperature effortlessly on your iPhone. Sure it costs $100, but you can’t put a price on a perfectly cooked steak.
BBQ Tank Meter App: Those steaks will never reach the perfect temperature if your grill runs out of gas. And the lame propane gauges built into most gas grills are so inaccurate that you could easily end up with a half-cooked cookout. But this unique $2.46 Android app acoustically measures how much propane is left—you just whack the side of the tank!
Bonus BBQ website—AmazingRibs: If you’re a real barbecue nerd in search of serious smoke flavor, not just a casual griller, check out AmazingRibs.com. Meathead Goldwyn claims his site is “the best place in the world for everything related to outdoor cooking.” His tips and techniques can be a fair amount of work, but I can attest that the results are indeed amazing.