Even the staunchest of Valentine’s Day detractors can’t deny its popularity: Each year, the holiday inspires $13.19 billion in spending and is marked by the conception of roughly 11,000 children. Clearly, February 14 is a date to be reckoned with—so why not make the most of it? V-Day offers the perfect opportunity to plan the most romantic date ever, catch up on some one-on-one time, or simply make your loved ones smile. And in the mobile age, there are apps to help you with all of those things. Read on for eight great suggestions—plus one bonus for amorous Android aficionados.
OpenTable: Table for two
Enjoying a romantic dinner for two is one of the most popular activities on February 14, which explains why most diners reserve tables at least a week in advance. Whether for calmly beating the rush for reservations (a week ago) or for sleuthing out a last-minute opening (in another couple of days), OpenTable (free; iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 8, Web) is a great tool. The service links with more than 25,000 restaurants—most of them located in large urban areas—for online bookings.
Aside from making reservations, you can map nearby restaurants; search by cuisine, price, and available time slot; and view menus as well as diner reviews and ratings. You can also send an email invitation to your date, and earn Dining Rewards Points redeemable for future meals—which could come in handy if your date goes well.
Ink Cards: Cute cards for friends and more
In 2012 people exchanged roughly 180 million Valentine’s Day cards, and when you factor in not having to set foot in a Hallmark store, I’m betting that number will go up. Ink Cards (free; iOS and Android) lets you choose from more than 100 customizable designs, add photos and filters, and then send printed cards to your loved ones.
The Ink Cards app is supersleek and exceptionally easy to use. You can upload photos directly from your phone’s camera roll, and change your font and graphic colors with the touch of a button. Each card sent within the United States costs $2 (international delivery costs $3) and arrives as a 3-by-7-inch postcard in three to seven days. Ink Cards also offers a bulk discount in the form of credits purchased on the site—a great option if you’re sending multiple Valentines to friends and family.
JustWink: Send a valentine, save a tree
If you’re an eco-conscious card-exchanger—or if you just tend to procrastinate—JustWink (free; iOS and Android) might be a better match for your needs. You can still send paper cards with this app, but its highlight is an option to send cards via email, text, Facebook, or Twitter. I’m fond of JustWink’s cute-yet-hip design, and I appreciate having the option to choose from among more than 200 prewritten cards (about 60 of those fall into the love and romance category). The cards themselves vary in attitude from touching to tongue-in-cheek, and they include fields for inserting your own photos and captions. You can also set reminders for various events, which will come in handy beyond Valentine’s Day.
OKCupid: Find a last-minute date
Not all of us are lucky enough to have a special someone, which is where OKCupid (free; iOS, Android, Web) comes in. If everyone you know has plans and you find yourself not wanting to be alone on V-Day, this app provides one of the quickest and easiest solutions.
The service itself is geared toward finding any type of relationship, from new friends to activity partners to long-term relationships, but the mobile app offers the additional option of searching for date possibilities in your near vicinity. With the Locals feature, you can set a “broadcast”—a message that appears to any matches nearby who are also using the service. Whether it’s for margaritas by moonlight or coffee at the corner cafe, just make sure to meet any new friends in a public place.
Poynt: Find the perfect date spot
Planning the perfect date can be a challenge, but not if you have the right tools—and Poynt (free; iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 8) is one of them. This location-based app offers information on nearby restaurants, movies, events, and venues. It even includes an integrated weather widget, so if local atmospheric conditions permit, you can even plan to have your mid-February date al fresco.
Since that’s an unlikely prospect for Poynt users in most parts of the Northern Hemisphere, you'll be happy to know that the app has extensive indoor activity planning capabilities as well. Search movies by location, time, or popularity; filter restaurants by cuisine, check out their price range, and book directly from the app; or find events by performer and add them to your calendar. There’s even an offers feature, so you might be able to score a discount on your date.
Amazon Mobile: Any gift, anytime
People who take Valentine’s Day seriously tend to exchange gifts. Any number of shopping apps can help with that aspect of the occasion, but none are as all-encompassing as Amazon Mobile (free; iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 8). The app lets you shop for practically anything; it even has a 1-800-FLOWERS store built in. The interface is simple, fast, and easy to use, and you have access to a great daily deals section for finding last-minute gifts. To make such discoveries worthwhile, Amazon also offers overnight shipping. So whether your tender thoughts turn to candy, jewelry, or something a little less traditional (might we suggest a tech-sessory?), you can count on finding it here.
Avocado: One-on-one communication
Are you and your autre significatif one of those couples that everybody thinks are sickeningly cute? If so, you'll love Avocado (free; iOS and Android). The app is designed to serve as a communication portal for two, providing a private space for you and your love to share messages, photos, and lists ranging from mundane tasks (like grocery shopping) to more exciting things (like date planning). Folks undaunted by the treacherous riptides of extreme cuteness can plunge into a feature that lets them send each other hugs and kisses; and Avocado also provides an archive where you can save special moments and revisit them at your leisure.
Some fun facts about the app name: According to the developers, avocados grow in pairs; the trees bear fruit only when paired with another; and the Aztecs held the fruit as the ultimate symbol of love and fertility. How adorable is that?
Songza: Set the mood with music
Whether you’re savoring a relaxing dinner for two at home, getting ready for a night on the town, or enjoying some special private time, music can set the perfect mood. In a perfect world, you'd have time to put together your own custom playlist; but if real-world demands make that impossible, Songza (free; iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8) has the answer. The service's awesome Concierge feature is geared toward particular moods and occasions, with stations programmed by Songza's staff of eagle-eared experts. It’s easy to find mixes with such themes as Indie Make Out, Candlelit Dinner, and Strictly Lovers Rock (there’s even a section called "Looking at Pictures of Your Ex").
The apps—even the unofficial Windows Phone version—are slick and easy to navigate. You can browse stations as you get ready for your big night, save them as favorites, and then share them with your date or with friends via Facebook, Twitter, or email.
Love Ideas: Woo your lover (Android bonus!)
Looking for a little inspiration to help you show your boo how much you care? Love Ideas (free; Android) is a sweet and simple app that offers various gift ideas, romantic poems (in a range of languages), and creative ways to express your love, such as planning a surprise getaway. The app also provides a section on proposal tips for sweethearts who are ready for the big plunge.
This story, "Eight great apps for Valentine’s Day planning" was originally published by TechHive.