1. Transport
November 30, 2015

What are the best mobile games to play one-handed while commuting?

By Emad Ahmed

Every time I’ve had to commute to work, killing time with iPhone games has been absolutely crucial to saving my sanity. After all, how long can you stare out of the bus window or look anywhere other than a fellow passenger’s face?

But here’s the thing: it can often be cramped on public transport in a big city like London or New York – and if you don’t get a seat, you’ll need one hand to hang on with, just to stop yourself falling over.

The solution? Games you can totally rule using just one hand! This is going to be the most useful list you didn’t know you needed.


Screenshot from Threes.

I’ll start off with the first thing I select on my phone whilst simultaneously holding on for dear life on the tube. Threes! is a fun, brain-teasing puzzler, forcing you to build blocks with numbers which continuously double from the start point of, you guessed it, the number three. Eventually you’ll run out of space and can compare your scores with friends.

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But this is a perfect example of a game which can be played either for two minutes or two hours – and the brilliant sound effects and music give this game a personality so many others completely lack.

Green Fingers

Screenshot from Green Fingers.

Now here’s something that will keep you in touch with nature when you never get to absorb any of it. It’s the complete opposite of Threes!, in that you have to act fast and drop the seeds, flowers and bees to the right pot in your window. However, it’s rewarding once you do master your reflexes and manual dexterity. I’m so glad I did a biology degree.

Tiny Wings, Gravity Guy and Alto’s Adventure

Screenshot from Gravity Guy. 

I’m unfairly lumping all three of these wonders together here, because each is a side-scrolling “endless runner” – a game that involves tapping an auto-travelling character to avoid obstacles and continue “running”. Each, though, comes with its own unique twist.

Screenshot from Tiny Wings.

Tiny Wings is my favourite of the bunch, with calming music transferring you to a state of nirvana, even when someone launches their shoulder bag – entirely by accident of course – into your back.

Screenshot from Alto’s Adventure.

Alto’s Adventure is also a relaxing alternative as you control a guy jumping between ski slopes, whereas Gravity Guy uses retro music to make you flip the character between running with or against gravity.


This is an intriguing, thoughtful game for our cybersecurity-crazy modern world. You play as an American spy, tapping into the communication of foreign-sounding citizens through a series of increasingly difficult visual puzzles.

Screenshot from TouchTone.

It’s tremendously satisfying just to hear the old sounds from the days of dial-up internet. But it’s also a genius app, as it grapples with the topic of internet snooping in a far more compelling way than most of those long think-pieces you’ve saved in your phone’s web browser. 

Spending a small amount of money on these sorts of games is ideal, especially if you’re constantly commuting or spending a large chunk of your time travelling. If you want to be thrifty, there’s always Bejeweled and Candy Crush. Just beware of becoming addicted to those sorts of free-to-play games in case you end up going down the wormhole of in-app purchases.

Just remember to dial down the brightness so nobody snoops in. And worst of all, for God’s sake, don’t open Snapchat: the thing defaults to picture-taking mode and that’s just a giant no-go when you’re surrounded by people.

Stick with these games. You can thank me later.

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