Traveling with a smart phone for some is a simple question. For business people, it’s probably a big ol’ yes and for the casual backpacker probably a simple no. What about the rest of us? What if you don’t fit into either of these categories? You might be asking yourself if you want to try and pay the massive per minute chargers just to make a simple call. Thankfully there are a few options for us backpackers and RTWers.
Below are 11 of my favorite Android apps to use while traveling. The good news is that almost all are totally free! Some will help you capture that amazing sunset in ways you may have not thought and others will save you some hard earned cash and still allow you to talk all you want. I know Mom gets upset if you don’t call and check in once in awhile.
Most phones these days have the option to turn off your cell broadcast so your phone isn’t trying to connect to local towers. If it doesn’t, you can turn your phone’s airplane mode on. On my HTC G2 I turn Airplane mode on which shuts off the cell broadcast. This saves my battery and give me a piece of mind I won’t accidentally make a $3.99 a minute call. I then turn my wireless on and all is well.
I put Skype on the top of the list because I feel it’s probably one of the most valuable apps while overseas. With access to a decent wireless connection and for a few bucks a month you can have unlimited calling to any phone in the United States.
If you’re trying to save every last penny, you can opt to not get the calling plan and just use Skype to Skype calling which is free. This would require the person on the other end to have a mic/speaker setup. Ideally they’d have a headset with a mic.
Next up on the list is TweetDeck. I’m big into social media and keeping up with not just my friends but what is going on in the travel and photography industry. That is where TweetDeck comes in handy. Not only does it handle all of my Twitter feed, it also handles my Facebook and Foursquare feeds.
Money and money exchange can be a total..well…you know what. XE Currency is totally awesome for this. You can choose the currencies you’d like watch and use and you’re set! Long press on one of the currencies and enter an amount and it’ll automagiclly convert it to the other amounts. No more wondering how much USD you are spending. It also auto updates every time you open the app if it detects an internet connection so you’ll have update to exchange rates.
Have trouble with conversions? Pounds to Stones or MPH to KPH? ConvertPad is where it’s at. ConvertPad will convert pretty much anything from Heat Flux Density to Magnetomotive. Don’t worry, it does the basic too. The app also do currency exchange but personally I prefer XE due to their simple interface.
Are you a hipster? Do you even know what a hipster is? Well if not, you can have cool retro photos that look like they were taken with old hip cameras. Even though I’m not a huge fan of the hipster scene, I do enjoy the old style photo look which is where Retro Photo comes into play. It’s simple to use, takes decent photos, and adds a bit of styling. I would suggest you take two shots, one with your regular camera and one with Retro Photo for instant gratification and street cred on Facebook.
For me, time lapse is totally freaking awesome. I love being able to see how things move that normally I don’t have the option to see. Up until recently shooting a time lapse required some expensive gear but now a smart phone will do just fine. The overall image quality of the time lapse video will be lower than that of a DSLR but you can still shoot in 720p and have it look fairly decent. I wish I had something like while in Thailand to capture a few of the sunsets.
My guilty pleasure? Checking in on FourSquare from awesome locations while my friends and family back home are in the dead of winter sitting their cubicle. Not much else to say about this app! Check in on 4sq and make sure to post to Facebook and Twitter to make everyone jealous.
Google+ is the latest from Google’s social team. It’s suppose to rival Facebook but come on, Facebook is so deeply rooted it’d be a tough task. That being said, G+ is actually pretty awesome. Their use of circles is very cleaver and I like it better than Facebook. The bad part is that the user base for G+ isn’t as large as Facebook.
Facebook for Android. Not much to say here. I get most of my Facebook feed on TweetDeck but sometimes it’s nice to upload a photo or two.
You’ve taken all these cool photos and maybe even a time laps. What now? You’re phone is filling up and there isn’t much space left. Dropbox to the rescue! There are a lot of buzz words floating around but “the cloud” is pretty popular right now and that’s exactly what DropBox is. Simple online storage. Upload to Dropbox and the next time your turn on your computer, Dropbox will sync and you’ll have your files waiting for you.
My final app is from Digitally Imported. This sweet app allows you listen to all you favorite electronica. Me? I’m a DnB and Dubstep fan. This one requires you to have an internet connection all the time. This app was mostly used while trying to fall asleep in the hostel dorms.
The smart phone is an amazing piece of technology. Small, powerful, and as long as it’s used for good everyone wins. They don’t take up much room and all you need is a small USB cable to charge it. Next time you’re getting ready jet off into the sunset, maybe you’ll think twice about whether or not to leave you phone behind.