As many of you are aware I am currently on a Windows Phone Hiatus. Back in June I wrote about using a Galaxy S4 as a daily driver and then choosing to get the LG G4 to use as my phone for the next year or so.
The last three months have gone well with the G4. The availability of so many Microsoft apps and services on the platform has not left me wanting for anything back on my Nokia Lumia 1520 that I was using.
Microsoft has really nailed the entire mobility of the experience with their apps on Android. In addition, the first party app experience for niche areas of my smart phone usage such as banking, insurance, package tracking and security has been tremendous and something that was sorely missing from Windows Phone.
All of this does not mean I will not be back on Windows Phone in the future. With the rumored October hardware event on the horizon and the expected reveal of the Talkman and Cityman Lumia phones we seem to have some high end flagship devices for Windows 10 Mobile on the way.
However, in the interim I am learning a lot about the Android platform and the app ecosystem.
This past week I have been on the road with my motorcycle on a short trip between Florida and Virginia of about 1,400 miles. Making a trip on a motorcycle introduces a certain element to traveling – specifically the elements – weather.
Stops along the way, especially when I am on my own like I am this week, also means those stops for gas, snacks and meals tend to be very brief because I just like moving down the road.
So mobile apps become very important for quick glances and checking into what is happening in my normally connected world and I wanted to share with you a list of those apps that I find valuable on these road trips.
I mentioned weather earlier and so that is the focus of my first app – Raindar.
Since I am very exposed on the motorcycle to any weather I encounter I like to stay aware of what is brewing in the next 100 miles or so ahead of me. While I do not mind riding in the rain, I have proper rain gear, I prefer to avoid it if I can without impacting my travel time.
Raindar can give detailed info on thunderstorms, hailstorms, rotating thunderstorms and tornadic activity including projections for the path of the storm in 20, 40 and 60 minute increments. If I can avoid a heavy downpour by waiting for an extra 15-20 minutes ahead of a storm then I much prefer to do that then plowing ahead through heavy rains or severe weather.
The next app I check when I am on the road is INRIX Traffic Maps and Alerts.
Glancing ahead for traffic issues along my planned travel route may not get rid of traffic but it will certainly let me know what to expect.
This app can also be configured to alert me about police, accidents, congestion and hazards on the road ahead. The alert radius can be adjusted from to a maximum of 10 miles so you can decide to come off at an exit ahead of the incident and wait it out instead of being on the highway at a snails pace.
Although I travel with my HP Spectre x360 that never comes out of the bag when I am on the road for quick checks of email until I am at an overnight destination. The Microsoft Outlook for Android app is a quick way to take a peek at any emails during a stop and determine if I need to fire off a reply to someone. Since my accounts are synched to their host server anything I send will be in my Sent Items when I turn on the Spectre later that evening for easy access and follow up.
I also use the official Facebook and Twitter apps to share my progress along the way with family and friends. It is an easy way to let folks know at my destinations when to expect me and the family back home aware of my current location and safety.
My LG G4 is my alarm clock - not only on the road but also at home. I choose to use Alarm Clock Extreme because I like the crescendo alarm pattern and snooze features.
When an alarm begins it takes 60 seconds to reach full volume and it helps the alarm to be less jarring. For snoozing, and who doesn’t love the snooze button, I can set a decreasing time between each subsequent push of snooze to increase the frequency of the alarm sounding which helps me wake up faster over the course of a few snoozes. The initial time between the first sound of the alarm and when it will alarm again after pushing that first snooze is also adjustable.
The last app that I find indispensable is HERE for maps and directions.
Whether I am looking for a particular place to understand its location or instructions for reaching a certain destination, HERE provides all of that and a terrific search feature that eliminates the need to use a separate search engine to find where you are going. Once I have looked up the destination it is just a matter of tapping on it and starting the trip. I have an auxiliary cable for my motorcycle so I can also get the turn by turn voice instructions of my Harley’s sound system to hear them easily and not have to focus on the G4’s screen.
So what apps, platform agnostic of course, do you find invaluable when you are on the road?