travel postcards, practical advice, images and snippets of randomness

I am sometimes asked how I have managed to do something from the phone; annotate a photo, publish to ark3 whilst on the road etc. If published via the ‘phone, apps are usually instrumental in the end result, so here is a list of what I currently use, all Android of course.

These are tried and tested by me and suit my needs, there may be better ones that suit other users, let me know if you find a good one.

I have provided links to the Google Play Store as some of the App names are fairly generic and I am recommending specific Apps.

 

Productivity Tools

AVG Anti Virus – exactly what it says, Virus activity doesn’t seem to be big problem on phones yet, but worth the small fee to prevent any potential problems.

PasswdSafe – tool for storing your passwords, the HUGE advantage of this app is that there is a PC version as well. The encrypted password file/ vault can be dragged from your PC to your phone (or vica verca) and thereby keep both in sync.

Touch Calendar – tool for viewing your calendars, free and paid for versions.

Google Drive – cloud storage.

Exchange rates – multiple currencies can be added; put in a value to one of them, the rest automatically update… Live updates with current market rates.

Google Keyboard – with language packs. Slide over the keyboard instead of tapping. There are other similar tools, but having tried them (including paid for versions) I prefer this one.

Opera Browser – After several updates I have given up on Chrome and Firefox as mobile browsers, Chrome is very heavy and not a very useable app. Opera seems faster, offers better bookmarking and faster loading (via a Turbo mode) and even allows offline page saving – very handy if travelling and you need access to information.

 

Photo Tools

Camera Zoom FX – best camera app I have found, add on frames and effects available too. Free and paid for versions. As built in cameras get better this may be overtaken as a required tool.

Photo Editor – quite simply the best phone picture editor I have found, does everything you could need on the move including crop, resize, adjust (contrast etc), annotate with text and save as (non destructive to original).

Photocaddy – advice on photo taking; suggested camera settings etc.

SunSurveyor – sun and moon positions for any location and time; can be very useful if you want to know the best time to be at a given spot.

 

Communication

Skype – video and telephone tool.

Voip Calls – (voice over internet protocol). There are 2 parts to this kind of service: an internet Voip account and then a tool to access the account for actually making calls/ SMS etc. I have found the quality of the following to be considerably better than Skype and it can operate more like a normal phone:

I’m currently using Connexin for the account side (they offer very good call rates, exceptional quality calls and you can have a UK local number assigned; this UK local number can they be forwarded to another number of your choice – foreign, local or mobile –  and will even take messages; or calls can be accepted on your smartphone or PC via the interface below.
For the phone and PC interface (application) I’m using Zoiper, which allows access to the above account and has a very simple set up.

I used to use ‘Internet Calls’ for this kind of service (I think they licence and/ or trade under other names as well), but had to abandon the account due to very poor call quality and lack of response to complaints – check reviews before you sign up with a provider, and start with a small credit on the account whilst you test quality from your location.

Messaging tools, useful if you have international contacts, sort of an international SMS without the charges.  Whatsapp is popular in Europe, there are other, similar tools, usage is often favoured geographically; Line is popular in the Far East, and is more comprehensive than Whatsapp; offering sound and video calls from within the app – quality is very good and I have found it to be better than Skype.

Social & Blogging

Google+

Tumblr

Facebook

Tweetcaster Pro

500px – photo sharing site, very high quality.

 

Travel, Information & Language

Booking.com – check availability, make bookings and store bookings made.

Skyscanner – air fare and routes checker.

Mapdroyd – superb off line map tool, you select the areas of the world you want (goes right down to street level) and then download them to the phone (advise you store to SD card and download using WiFi – some files are huge), the chosen areas are then available off line so save you roaming charges.

Dictionaries – Bitknights – Selection of dictionaries.

Thai Pro – talking thai phrase book, free and paid for versions.

Talking Thai Dictionary – the above is great for quick look up and some everyday phrases, but this is the top end of talking Thai dictionaries, expensive, but if you are serious about learning the language its a must.

Starchart – star map, I prefer this to the Google one.

 

Games

Backgammon

Chess

Mah Jong Pro

Simon Tatham’s Puzzles – great selection of old style games and puzzles.

Wordsearch

Pocket Yoga – keep fit on the move.

Sports Tracker – record and share your activities; will satellite track you on your run/ cycle/ walk etc. Then work out distance, speed, calories etc. You can add photos along the route too.

Poweramp – music player.

 

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