by Mark Kaelin
Hey, if you win that iPhone 7 from Gogo, it’s a must that you install these apps. Because let’s face it, traveling by air is a wonderful modern convenience, but it’s also a very stressful activity. You have to be on time for your flight, even if ultimately the flight turns out to be late or a no-show. You have to make your way through airport security, which may involve some intimate moments with strangers you’d rather not talk about. And sometimes, despite all that, you end up waiting around for hours in terminals for reasons the airline authorities choose not to explain to your satisfaction.
Luckily for us, we live in an era of mobile computing devices. With the right combination of apps and a creativity, travelers can reduce the stress of air travel and get some measure of peace from the experience.
Here are five-plus free apps every air traveler should have ready to go for their next trip (and for whatever little adventures crop up on the way).
Wi-Fi Analyzer and Rotten Wi-Fi
This first selection is a 2-for-1 special. Wi-Fi Analyzer, available for both Android and iOS devices, will scan the Wi-Fi signals in the area and show you which one has the least amount of interference.
Inexperienced administrators often leave a router’s Wi-Fi channel on the default settings, which is a big mistake. With Wi-Fi Analyzer, you can quickly determine from a simple to read graph which admin is paying attention to detail, which should also indicate which Wi-Fi signal will offer the better connection.
To truly determine how good and how fast that Wi-Fi connection is you will have to run a speed test. The app from Rotten Wi-Fi, also available for both Android and iOS, will do that for free. The results of the test will then be compared to its database of other tests run by its customers so you can gauge the quality of the Wi-Fi service on offer. This is a good way to determine if paying for Wi-Fi service is worth the listed price.
Ant Pruitt mentioned this app in a previous post. Once you are in the air and cruising at approximately 30,000 feet, you might get the urge to see exactly where you are in the sky and perhaps even where you are compared to all of the other flights currently in your area. This is what the app Flightradar24 is designed to do.
The app uses GPS to calculate your current location and then shows you your position relative to other flights. You can even search for other flights to track their progress. Now you can learn in advance whether your connecting flight is on time or not.
Flightradar24 is available for both Android and iOS devices and the paid version offers users more detailed information about each flight.
Many travelers bring their Kindle with them on a flight, but it is still a good idea to have the Kindle app installed on your smartphone or tablet just in case. The app grants you access to all of your purchased books as well as thousands of free public domain books. So, whether you have a Kindle or not, you can always have a book to read, which can be a real stress reliever when sitting through an unexpected 10-hour weather delay.
Another good way to pass the time, whether you are on the ground waiting for a flight or in the air, is with video streaming. And, arguably the best streaming service on the planet and in the sky right now is Netflix.
With a seemingly endless supply of original television series, broadcast television shows, movies, comedy specials, and intriguing documentaries, there is bound to be something worth watching on Netflix for just about everyone. And if you a lucky enough to be on a flight with the new 2Ku faster Wi-Fi service from Gogo, then you can access all of this wonderful video content right from your seat on the plane.
The Netflix app is free as part of the monthly subscription and available on all the major platforms, so, if you have Netflix already, there is really no reason not to have the app installed on your mobile devices.
World Conqueror 3
Another great way to pass the time during a long flight is with games. Most mobile games these days are designed for casual play, but such games may not hold your interest on a long international flight. However, there is one game genre that could grab your attention and hold it for a long time — strategy.
You could go “old school” and stick with traditional favorites like Risk, Empire Deluxe, or a text adventures like Zork, or you can opt for a modern strategy game like World Conqueror 3. A game like World Conqueror 3 takes advantage of the modern mobile devices capabilities to create a better overall experience. And because it is designed specifically for mobile devices it does have any of the odd PC-related artifacts that distract from gameplay in titles ported from other operating systems.
World Conqueror 3 is free to play and it is available for all major mobile platforms.
Preparation Is Key
No matter where you are flying to or how long the trip is supposed to take, travelers should always be prepared for the stress of unexpected delays. Armed with a well-stocked mobile device and a little insightful planning, air travel can be a much more pleasant experience. A few free apps could be all you need.
Mark has been writing and editing stories about the information technology industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.com.