To begin with, I have flashlights -- apps that use the screen or camera flash LED for task illumination. How necessary are apps that turn your $200 to $300 smartphone into a $6 flashlight? Incredibly necessary, because what's always in your pocket when you're delving around in the back of an equipment rack? A flashlight? Nope. Your smartphone? Yep.
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If you have a phone such as the Verizon HTC Incredible which has a camera flash this works great. For other phones, such as the T-Mobile Galaxy S G4, the only choice is for the screen to be the light source, which is still better than no light at all.
My favorite free flashlight, because it's simple, is Mag Flashlight, which looks like what it claims to be, a Maglite Flashlight. Click the on-screen on/off switch to (d'oh) switch the light on and off and click the Dimmer and Brighter labels on the onscreen flashlight to brighten and dim the light. Rating: 5 out of 5.
I also like the free Color Flashlight, which can control the camera flash (if your phone has one) and/or use the screen for messaging. This works great but I'm not sure how and when I'd need to have the screen display a word such as "HELP," act as a strobe, or flash police colors. On the other hand, the animated spiral might be useful for hypnotizing users into believing that everything is working fine and that they should move along as this isn't the droid they're looking for. Rating: 4 out of 5 (I also get 5 out of 5 for my "Star Wars" reference).
An Android utility that I love is Ulysse Gizmos, a free multifunction app that includes a compass, a speedometer, GPS status report, a bubble level, a clinometer and a magnetometer. You can set waypoints on Google Maps and share your location by a number of methods, including Bluetooth, email and other installed communications services (though it doesn't work with Dropbox). I actually used the bubble level to level a 19-inch rack, but what I really love about this app is its terrific user interface and its sheer geekiness. Rating: 5 out of 5 (I'd give it a 6 if I could).
If you are seriously into tracking where you go you will have discovered the wonders of the excellent GPS apps on Android and, for many of them, their excellent integration with Google Maps. Amongst the many free tools I've tried there is one that appeals immensely to me not just because it's incredibly geeky and ambitious in its functionality, but also because it's actually useful. The tool is GPS Essentials.
This app reports on all the stuff you want to know about where you are including GPS, altitude, speed, battery charge, bearing, climb, course, date, declination, distance, estimated time of arrival, latitude, longitude, maximum speed, minimum speed, actual speed, true speed, sunrise, sunset, moonset, moonrise and moon phase.
There's also a "heads-up" display mode the overlays the image from the camera with markers for waypoints you set, so as you pan the camera your waypoints are superimposed on the view, Google Maps integration, and waypoint import and export in Google Earth KML format! Another 5 out of 5 rating.
For the real GPS junkies amongst you, I also have to recommend the free GPS Test app. If you want a simpler summary of GPS measurements, this app is excellent! Yet another 5 out of 5 rating!
Gibbs is located in Ventura, Calif. Come on; tell firstname.lastname@example.org what apps you dig!
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This story, "Five More Android Apps for IT Pros" was originally published by Network World.