6 Cool Android Apps to Make Use Of Sensors on Your Phone
In addition to these sensors, there are also more practical things that you may want to know about the status of your Android phone and the network and the environment where it is located. To this end, I decided to go out in search of some more cool Android apps that integrate with your phone’s sensors to provide you with some interesting information about the status of your phone.
Check GPS Satellite Status
Many GPS-enabled Android apps simply connect to GPS satellites and initiate the application with your location. However, there are times when you may want to know what the status of your phone’s GPS system is – such as how many satellites are transmitting, your current GPS directly and location and more. The GPS Status app taps into your GPS receiver and provides you with all of that information in a very cool graphical format.
The app displays everything all in one screen – the magnetic field, your current position including pitch/title, your compass direction and of course the location of satellites. It’s actually very cool to watch the location of the satellites as they slowly move across the sky.
Check Your Battery Juice With JuicePlotter
Have you ever wondered where all your battery power is going? Curious what your charge and discharge pattern looks like? One awesome tool that may help you troubleshoot when and why your battery is getting drained is JuicePlotter. JuicePlotter tracks and plots the history of your battery level, allowing you to review when your battery was nearly fully charged, how quickly it drained and when you recharged the battery.
For testing purposes, I let my phone gradually drop from 80 percent down to about 20 percent. As you can see from the graph, it took the battery from 4am to 12am to drain down to that level – not bad! Obviously, unless you have something enabled that’s draining your battery more quickly, the shortening of this graph could represent a battery that needs replacement.
Analyze Your Network
One common use for a mobile phone is to identify local Wi-Fi networks. The Android Market offers a number of cool Android apps that show the current speed, strength and even the volume of transmitted data for the Wi-Fi signals that your phone can connect to. The following are two of my favorite apps. The first is called NetCounter, and it simply displays a tally of the data transfer that took place over either your cellular line or your Wi-Fi connection.
This is a cool way to keep track of your data transfer rates, especially if you don’t have an unlimited data plan through your cellular provider. Another cool app to tap into the status of your Wi-Fi signal is aptly called SpeedTest. The application lets you run a data transmission test to check the transfer speed of the current data network you’re connected to. When you fire off the test, you’ll see the dial launch as the system pings the remote server.
Once the test completes, the dial rests on your current upload speed in kbps, and the application reports both your upload and download speeds resulting from the speed test.
In addition to the data transfer speed of your current network, you might also want to know the general signal strength of the local Wi-Fi network. The Wifi Analyzer app provides a cool graphical display of the current strength of your Wi-Fi connection. The signal strength shown here was the strength of my home Wi-Fi network in dBm sitting across the house from my wireless router.
As I walked across the house closer to where the router is located, the needle gradually worked its way up the scale. I was pretty impressed with how accurate the application appeared to be – every little movement I made either closer or further from the router resulted in a bounce of the display needle.
Turn Your Android Into a Motion Detector
The last app that I’d like to cover that makes use of the accelerometer (if your phone has one), is Seismo. This application basically senses every little shake or wobble of the phone, and plots it out on a graph. I produced the chart below by holding the phone steady, and then very gently bouncing the phone in intervals. The sensor was very sensitive, and caught every movement I made with the phone.
I can think of a number of uses for this application that would really come in handy. In any situation where you need to determine if an object or a flat surface is wobbling or shaking, all you’d have to do is lay your phone down flat on the object or surface and run this application. The motion gets logged and you can save the chart to a log file on your SD card.
This is definitely one of my favorite apps for the Android. It’s especially useful for engineers, scientists or other researchers, but almost anyone may have the need for such a delicate measurement device at some point. At the very least, you can turn it on when you feel an earthquake coming on, and record the size of the quake!
These examples are only a few of the many cool Android apps out there that tap into your Android phone system sensors and report back with data. Do you know of any other cool apps that provide phone or network status? Can you think of any other cool uses for any of these apps? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.