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The year 2012 is poised to be a lot of things.  A leap year, for one. The year of the 2012 Olympics, for another.  And the year that will see the landing of the new Mars Science Laboratory rover on Mars. But the thing 2012 is most known for (besides being the namesake of an unfortunate John Cusack movie) is that it’s forecast to be The End of the World.

Whether that takes the form of all of our technology being knocked out by the solar maximum, the Earth’s poles magnetically reversing, a collision with Planet X, a doomsday scenario as (not really) predicted by the Mayans, an invasion of zombies, or absolutely nothing, no one knows.


What we do know is that it can’t hurt to be prepared. Not necessarily for Doom itself, but for the mere fact that if anything even minor happens this year, the general populace is likely to overreact and start, as Morrissey says, panicking in the streets of London, Birmingham, and everywhere else. So we’ve put together some apps for your iPhone that should prove useful when the lava’s blocking your street, the zombies are chasing you around the block, and you can’t find your last can of beans.

You won’t need a virtual lighter or a series of disco balls in the apocalypse (well, not unless you’re trying to appease a zombie with a cigarette or a little vogueing.) But you will need to be able to see your way around, whether you’re in abandoned buildings, the countryside, or your own powerless house. Flashlight by Henri Asselly is a great free one, as it’s also free of irritating ads and opens quickly. The iHandy Flashlight ($1.99 and free versions) has a few too many options (glow sticks?) but does offer a flashing ‘police light’ which could be useful for emergencies; red lights, which will assist your night vision; and a faux candle, which will help your iPhone feel less lonely.

Maps that are cached – we repeat, cached, as in stored on your phone – are going to be essential, as you may not be able to access the network. Galileo Offline Maps (free) and OffMaps ($2.99) take care of the neccessities, although you have to do some downloading and setup ahead of time. Gaia GPS ($9.99)    includes topographic and altitude info (and lots of other features) that makes it perfect for off-grid and off-road trekking , and The Cartographer ($3.99) is our favorite, as it handles the map info with a little extra flair and also lets you take notes within the app itself.

The best defense is information, duh – if you’ve at least been storing up a few cans of food and flashlight batteries, you’re already two steps ahead of the people who have been completely scoffing at 2012 all along and who will be caught with one packet of Ramen noodles and zombies living in their car. But you can amp up your info arsenal even more with apps like Survival Guide (the Max version, actually a U.S. Military Survival Manual – free), which has categories for everything from shelters to firecraft, medical assitance,  and finding water and plants that might make a decent dinner.  The iSurvive Military Grade Survival Manual ($1.99) is even better, with info on traveling in all manner of weather conditions, radio signaling, wild food info, and more.

In the event that the hospitals are overrun, it’ll be prudent to at least avail yourself of some basic first aid information. If you’re the panicky type, then ResQr First Aid Coach ($6.00) is a good choice, as it presents a color-coded group of icons that ask yes or no questions to guide you toward the proper treatment. You’ll probably also want to install the Centers for Disease Control’s CDC News Reader app (free) which will keep you informed so you can avoid places that are having breakouts of… well, whatever scary thing they’re warning you about. And don’t forget about Fido and Mittens – Pet First Aid ($3.99) will help you take care of their medical needs, too.

Whether you’re making a rope ladder to traverse a steep hill, or simply trying to prevent your shoes from falling off, you’re going to need some knot knowledge. Knot Time ($3.99 or Lite version for free) offers 33 knots for a variety of needs, and, even better, videos on how to tie them. The Knot Guide (free) is a little more basic, with photos instead of video of each step needed to tie the knot, but the price is right.

Don’t think that all of those 7-11s and Tescos are going to stay open – or stocked – when panic ensues. Your best bet is to start as early as possible after the disaster to find your own food sources. Starting with the Gardening Toolkit ($1.99) is probably a smart move, as it helps you figure our what plants and foodstuffs will grow in your ‘zone’ and how to keep them growing. Wild Edibles (by WinterRoot $7.99) might seem a little pricey, but you won’t think so once you’re dining on five varieties of fruits and veggies that you’ve foraged, while your neighbors are trying to figure out how to cook tree bark. You might also consider a recipes app, as cooking without packaged ingredients might be challenging for most of us; the App store has a million of ’em, but we like Coleman’s Camping Cookbook (free), Whole Foods Market Recipes (free), AllRecipes (free), and for a little doomsday gourmet flair, Gordon Ramsay’s Cook with Me ($7.99.)

And after the initial fright and flight has died down (no pun intended), you’ll need to settle in to your new routine, a new version of your home (or a new home entirely), and you’ll start getting bored with all of that gardening, water collecting, and setting zombie traps. So – just as a general rule – make sure you’ve left some room on your phone for games and as many downloaded videos as it’ll hold. Plants vs. Zombies ($2.99), of course, is a good one to practice your tower defense skills against appropriate enemies.

Okay, just one more. The 2012 app by Mathieu Gravey (free), features an eerily pleasant background of galaxies and Mayan Calendars – and conveniently counts down the days until the specifically-predicted date of the apocalypse: December 21, 2012. Pencil that one in. – Kristi Kates