It’s that time of the year, and there are a plethora of tools available for smartphones that ease the burden of traveling. For newer users preparing your smart device (Who uses the phone anymore?) can be pretty daunting. For those looking for a little guidance here are some apps and settings to prepare before you leave home for an extended period.
- Place important files on your home screen.
Most File Managers allow you to place shortcuts to documents on your homescreen. Recently Google Drive added this functionality which is wonderful as I believe it to be the most complete File Managing/Editing App for Android. Perfect for flight confirmations and itineraries, these shortcuts can save a great deal of time and effort. (Mine end up on the screen to the right….i still need a clean homescreen.) Google Drive also offers an offline feature so you won’t need an internet connection to access those files.
- Google Now
Setting up Google now is relatively simple and can make traveling so much easier. It is part of the Google search app and can usually be activated with a shortcut. The purpose of Google Now is to provide the user with pertinent information before you have to ask for it. By allowing the application to scan your email and remember your searches it can do things like tell you if your flight is delayed or whether you need to leave home early to get to work on time.
- Relax with a movie
There are a few different ways to get your cinema fix on the go.
First, you could go the hardware rout and purchase a USB OTG Cable. This allows you to connect a USB flash drive to your device. The biggest caveat of course is whether or not your device allows for this functionality. Most of the newer android phones (At least a year young) will have this capability. OTG cables can be found online for as little as 1.99 before shipping.
Second, Google Drive now provides 15 free gigs of space (Your Drive and Gmail space allocation has now been combined. I recommend downloading some digital movies and saving them to drive. There are of course a number of different file saving options like Dropbox and Box. I use Google Drive because when I chose to stream the movies they play through YouTube which is very reliable at lower bandwidths. Other file saving/sharing applications will also let you stream movies from your account.
- Are you a calendar person?
Enter Your appointments by voice with Google now, by typing them into the search bar widget, or directly in the calendar. Google Now will give you event notifications, so don’t worry about setting them up in the calendar app unless you want multiple ones. The beauty of Google Now’s Notifications when compared to the calendar app’s are that Google Now’s will alert you based on the time it would take you to reach your appointment. (If the appointment has a location)
- Get your camera ready.
This section was going to be fairly lengthy….then Google I/O 2013 happened. Your camera phone doesn’t take great pictures? Who cares! Google Plus will do all the work for you with *Auto Awesome* Just turn on Auto Upload when logging into Google Plus and your pictures will be enhanced, sorted, and more.
- Prep your translator…
Google translator. If you don’t get it….you definitely didn’t get what she just said to you. (The woman in the red dress that is.)
- Prep Your Map
A while ago Google Maps released what might turn out to be their most important update. The ability to cache areas of a map so that you can view it without an internet connection can be a life saver if you’re on a limited data plan or happen to be in a place with less than stellar service. I was able to cache all of Miami for a recent trip so the savable area is actually pretty large. This really takes the pressure off when you’re in an unfamiliar area and need a quick look at the map.