Rob Reilly: Samsung Galaxy S5 Active Travel Guide

Our Rob Reilly took his new Samsung Galaxy S5 Active for a spin this week. Here’s his short list of must-have apps for the road — plus a Galaxy S5 Active takeaway.

aNewDomain — I picked up a new Samsung Galaxy S5 Active superphone the week before my speaking engagement at OSCON 2014 in Portland. Here’s my travel guide, including some of the best Android apps I took along. Scroll below. Or, for tips on how to extend Samsung Galaxy S5 battery life, just click here.

I’ve been using Samsung’s flagship line of phones for a long time. I’ve always been happy with their functionality and performance. The Samsung Galaxy S5 Active turns out to be a powerful device with seemingly every conceivable feature you’d ever want in a smart phone. It runs the stock AT&T Android 4.4.2 and has not been rooted … yet. Two features that set the Active apart from the regular S5 is that it is waterproof to a depth of three feet and impact resistant to a four-foot drop. The phone also has real, physical hardware application-switch, home, back buttons, instead of the cheesy on-screen ones. A Pelican hard case/belt clip made for even more bullet-proof protection.

So I took it on the road …

Applications To Travel By 

It was great to see that AT&T finally wised up and unlocked mobile hotspot capabilities. Customers pay for data and they should be able to use it however they wish. I typically connect my Linux notebook to the net using my phone’s mobile hotspot, when I can’t find reliable access using regular WiFi.

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WiFi Analyzer for Android

One app I use on a regular basis when I travel is WiFi Analyzer. This little app shows all the access points, within range of your phone. It gives a graph of the relative signal strengths and the channel each AP is using. It can also scan both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands.

Those are a couple of net apps I used on my Portland trip. Now, let me tell you about navigation.

Up-Up-And-Away

GPS Essentials is my go-to app to find my location. Naturally, you’ll have to turn on location services, aka: the GPS radio first. Once you have the app running, go to the dashboard to get latitude, longitude, speed, and altitude readings. If you sit in a window seat, the S5 will easily pick up enough satellites, to give accurate measurements during flight.

My A320 lifted off the runway at about 180 mph, leaving Orlando. Sadly, I was in an aisle seat and at about 5000 ft. lost my satellite fix. Coming back, out of San Francisco, my south facing window seat gave me a steady stream of data, right up through our cruising altitude of around 37,000 feet. We also hit about 560 mph, during our flight to Orlando. Pretty cool.

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GPS Essentials for Android

Google Maps is my other workhorse location app. Both the GPS and cell-network radios need to be on for real-time updates to your location. This program is a constant companion when I travel. At OSCON, I used it on the streetcar from the Portland Convention Center and across the river to the Puppet Labs party. I used it on my 10-mile adventure out into the country to the end of the Blue Line (light rail). And I used it to find my bearings around Pioneer Square and downtown. Google Maps works great on the S5 and it didn’t seem to be particularly bad on draining the battery. I had plenty of power for a few calls, lots of looking at maps and 18-hour days.

One last app that every person who speaks at a conference ought to have is Stopwatch and Timer by sportactive.com. The numbers are big and easy to read, making staying on time effortless. I can easily read the display from 10 feet away, an important factor because I walk around a lot on stage.

Wrap Up

So there you have it. A collection of useful apps that work well for traveling with the Samsung Galaxy S5. And, if you are considering a new Android phone, I highly recommend a look at the Galaxy S5 Active.

For aNewDomain.net, I’m .

Based in Orlando, Rob Reilly is an independent consultant, writer, and speaker specializing in Linux/OSS, Open Hardware, technology media, and the mobile lifestyle. Follow him on Twitter @RobReilly and find his posts on Google + here.

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