Friday, October 28, 2011

Smartphone Apps Redux

Fernandina Beach, Florida
30 43.14 N 081 32.78 W

My friend Don bought a new smartphone.  He asked me to update my list of apps that I find useful while cruising.  Glad to.  Here goes:

Nautical Apps
  1. Navionics USA East -- a full featured chart plotter with the whole USA east coast.  Does things your regular chart plotter can't.  Does not need a cell phone signal to work.  Battery hog but a great backup for only $9.99
  2. Tide Predictor
  3. Weather Bug Deluxe -- great weather centered on your GPS pos.  Doppler radar shows animations of thunderstorms up to 100 miles away.  You can tell if a storm will hit you or not.  Get the deluxe version (I think $1.99)
  4. First aid quick ref in your pocket
  5. Real Calc
  6. Hurricane Hound Free
  7. Bubble level
  8. Sound meter & Vibrometer.  These meters are not calibrated but you don't care.  Just start a log and record baseline values (such as cruising at 1800 RPM with phone flat on deck above the transmission.)  Repeat periodically.  You're looking for sudden jumps or creeping trends.
  9. Tricorder - named after the hand-held scanners in the original Star Trek, but it's very useful.  See gravity/acceleration in 3 axes.  magnetic field in 3 axes.  Acoustic spectrum.  GPS position and satellites.  Cell phone signal and WIFI signal strengths, and solar activity.   Gives you a window on the built-in sensors in your phone.
  10. Nautichart   phone version of  (I don't like it much)
  11. is a primary source for weather.  Go there, and they have a phone app. is similar but better for inland waters.  You can save bookmarks with both passageweather and sailflow for your favorite regions, then put icons for those bookmarks on the desktop for quick access.
Star Gazing
  1. Google Earth.  Centers on your GPS position. See what's behind that bank of trees.  Like having a chopper mounted camera following you around.
  2. Google Sky Map.  Blows everyone's mind.  Point your phone at a bright object in the sky and this app shows you it's name.  
  3. Predisat  -- see times & where to look for ISS flyovers and Irridium flashes.
  4. Meteor Showers -- like predisat but for meteors
  5. ISS Lookup -- see where the ISS is right now.
  6. Sky Eye a built-in planetarium progrem.  (on your laptop get a world class free program Stellarium -- great fun)
  7. ZP Dashboard.  Like a pilot's heads-up display for heading and azimuth.  Useful when trying to locate an object by declination and elevation.
  1. Two touch timer -- timer/alarm clock
  2. Barcode scanner
  3. App2SD -- may or may not work on your phone. Moves apps from scarce memory space to plentiful SD card space.  Makes your phone faster but startup time for apps might be slower.  If this doesn't work, you can fill up your phone's memory faster with too many apps.
  4. Wifi analyzer.
  5. Data quota.  Who's your carrier? I have Verizon.  They provide an app that shows my data use for the month, so I can compare it with my quota.  Vital.
  6. Password Master  I store copies of all my online and phone account names and passwords here.  It is protection if you forget them.
  7. Lookout -- vital, free, antivirus security for your phone.  Also backs up some stuff and has features for a lost phone.  I don't need the premium version.
  8. cab4me    Gives you the phone number for the nearest cab to your GPS pos. 
  9. S2 Calendar Widget -- displays this month's calendar as an icon on my home screen.  Click it to make appointments.
  10. Easy Tether Pro -- My most important program.  It makes my phone into a broadband modem for my laptop.  I'm using it right now to write this email while under way.  At night, Libby and I watch movies or TV shows on the laptop via the phone's tether.  Cell providers and Apple are cracking down on tether programs.  They want to charge you an extra $50/month for tethering service.  My app I got for $9.99 before they clamped down so I'm grandfathered. You should at least try to get it and install it.
  11. Call Confirm  prevents butt calling.  Pops a window that makes you answer YES I really do want to dial this number.
  12. ebay
  13. key ring.  Scan and store the numbers of all your credit/loyalty/membership cards.  Then you don't need those cards in your wallet and/or provide a backup record in case you loose a card.  The app claims that it can show the card barcode on the screen and the store's scanner will scan it, but that part doesn't work.
  14. Shake To Answer -- does what it says.
  15. Quick Settings -- give much easier and more convenient access to phone settings.
Entertainment (whatever suits your taste. I use the following)
  1. Youtube viewer
  2. News - I'm a news addict.  Every day I use apps for Slashdot/NY Times/Drudge Report/NPR/Dilbert/Fox News/USA Today/Washpost/Public Radio.
  3. Google Reader.  Give it the list of blogs/podcasts you follow.  It gives you a consolidated list of new stuff since you last looked.
  4. Music -- MP3 music/podcast player.
  5. Listen -- player for online podcasts
  6. Angry Birds - everyone else on this planet has it already, you might as well do it too.
  7. Bubble buster, Space Physics, Fish Food, Toss it, Quadit, solitare -- fun games
If you have a data cap of 2GB or less, you'll have to watch your use.  Video sucks it up fast, about 0.5 GB per hour of viewing.   Audio takes about 1GB every 6 hours of listening.   If you have 4G, it is so fast you can use up your monthly data quota in 11 minutes!!!  If you have a 256MB cap, you'll need WIFI almost all the time.  Be careful.  I'm lucky to be grandfathered with unlimited data for $30/month.  That lasts as long as my contract. If I ever get a new phone and a new contract, I lose the grandfather privilege.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to hear you made it to Florida as we are getting ready for snow here in Catskill. your blogs will help the winter pass and hope to see you both on your return trip in the spring. I was the guy that helped with the mast that is looking forward to retiring on a sailboat. I enjoy your posts and glad to hear you got your mounts fixed.


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