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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.