A couple of weeks ago, I told you about a new job that I had started and that it requires a lot of traveling out of me. Even before I took this new job, I still did a great deal of traveling. Therefore, I needed (and now need even more) some good tools (mobile apps) to carry with me on the road. I have gathered a handful of apps I would like to share with the rest of you. All of the apps I am listing here are for Android. But, I’m sure there are similar apps or even the same for iPhone. In fact, work has issued me an iPhone that I will be carrying with me from now on. So, it’s probably a good idea that I begin looking for good tools for iOS when I get a chance. But, until then, here is my list of cool Android apps for traveling geeks.
Google Maps Navigation (link)
To begin with, if you are using Android, you should already have Google Maps installed. But, I thought I would mention it here anyways as no traveler (even non-geeks) should leave the house without this app. I have used it quite a few times and it has really helped out in several circumstances. For example, two weeks ago I traveled to Dallas, TX for work. There was a lot of road construction going on near my hotel. The GPS in my rental car kept telling me to turn onto roads that were either closed for construction or didn’t even exist anymore. So, I pulled out my cellphone, fired up Google Maps Navigation, and drove straight to my hotel. Even though in-car GPS units can be updated at any time, Google Maps Navigation provided real-time traffic updates, even road construction, traffic jams, and accidents. The tool is completely free and even provides spoken driving directions.
If you run a WordPress blog that gets a lot of traffic and attention like the one you are on now, then you definitely need the WordPress Android app for when you travel. The tools is free and works with any WordPress blog. It has a very simple and easy to use interface with big buttons which are great when on-the-go. As soon as you open the app, you are presented with quick links to any part of your admin console. The first screen even tells you if you have any new comments that need your attention. If you do, you can quickly tap the “Comments” button and head over to moderate your comments. You can also create new posts and pages or edit existing ones. The tool even allows you to quickly take a photo or video and upload it directly to your blog where it becomes immediately available.
Pulse News (link)
If you are truly a geek, then you have plenty of geek websites and newsgroups you like to follow. Visiting each of those websites can become extremely time consuming. But, Pulse takes all of that site hopping out of the equation. Instead, Pulse allows you to select the newsgroups you want to follow and it places all of the news from those sites into a single user interface which makes it extremely easy to view all of your favorite sites at a single glance. The tool provides you with the top picture for each article if one is available and overlays the title of the article on the picture. To view other articles or websites, all you have to do is scroll up and down or left and right. It’s a very clean interface and provides a great way to access all of your favorite sites at once.
I’m not sure what “Aloqa” means, but it’s still a really cool app and worth the mention. Aloqa is an app that reads your current location and offers suggestions for all kinds of things that are nearby. For example, I have the app open right now and can see that there are several coffee shops, restaurants, events, and other things within driving distance. It even provides nearby Groupon deals and Yelp reviews. While I was in Dallas a couple of weeks ago, I used this cool little app to tell me where a nearby ATM was at as well as help me locate some cool restaurants that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise.
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Compass is exactly what the name implies. It’s a simple, easy to use compass app, great for getting your bearings when in a place you aren’t familiar with.
XE Currency (link)
XE Currency is an app that really comes in handy when traveling internationally. It shows you what all of the major currencies are and helps you with exchange rates from your home currency to the local currency. This app really came in handy while my fiancee and I traveled to places like Jamaica and Mexico recently.
Fing – Network Tools (link)
If you are responsible for any kind of network administration and / or monitoring, Fing is a great app to have in your mobile arsenal. It provides you with all kinds of great networking tools such as ping, traceroute, DNS lookup, etc… It even provides you with some cool utilities for scanning Wi-Fi networks and other devices that are on those networks. It really comes in handy when you’re in a new location and need a quick internet connection.
Keeping with the networking flow, ConnectBot is another great utility for network and system admins. It provides you with a nice (albeit small) shell interface for remote administration of servers and networks. ConnectBot provides support for Telnet and SSH connections. I had to use this tool recently to change the iptables of one of my servers so that I could access it from the network I was currently connected to with my laptop. I just fired up the app, connected to the server using SSH and my cell provider’s network, added the rule, restarted iptables, and I was back in business.
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Taxi Magic (link)
Taxi Magic is a cool little app that helps you locate and call for taxis that are close by. It shows you the all of the nearby options as well as the rates for each. I haven’t had the need to use this app yet, but I’m still glad I have it installed for when I do.
Weather Bug (link)
I don’t think I need to explain what Weather Bug is or why it is so important to have. But, I still wanted to list it here as it’s another one of those apps that no traveler (or non-traveler) should ever do without.
Scanner Radio (link)
This is an app that some will like and others will hate. It just depends on what you get out of it. Scanner Radio is an app that allows you to listen in to police, fire, and other non-emergency radios over the internet. You can listen to nearby radio broadcasts as well as broadcasts from anywhere else by simply selecting the location and station you want to hear from a list. While I was in Dallas, I turned on this app just to see what was happening near my hotel. Less than a block away, a convenient store was robbed just minutes before I got to my hotel. Police were still onsite when I turned on the app. Also nearby, I heard reports of several cars being vandalized. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy with anything I was hearing about the area I was in.
However, I have heard some good things out of this app. Last week, I flew to Chicago for a meeting with my manager. While sitting at Ohare International airport, waiting for my return flight home, I loaded up the app and heard about a family that had an accident on a highway near Schaumburg. Hearing about an accident wasn’t fun to listen to. But, I am glad that I heard that no one was seriously injured. The five year old son was in the back seat and had a few scratches on him. But, everyone in the car was smart enough to wear their seat belts. I heard one of the on-site police officers say that the car was pretty much demolished and that the seat belts definitely saved the family.
Anyways, that’s all of the apps I want to share with you at this point. But, you can be assured that I will definitely be sharing other cool mobile apps with you in the near future. If you have any apps you would like to share with the rest of us, please list them in the comments below. Also, if you have used any of the apps I’ve mentioned here and have something to add, please leave that in the comments below as well.
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