Archive for January, 2012
The FEMA Android app is the official emergency preparedness resource provided by the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency.
- Version: 1.1.0
- Size: 633KB (no apps2SD)
- Category: Reference
- Price: Free
FEMA’s mission is to “support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.” Regardless of where you might be from (U.S. or not), the information included in this app is quite universal.
The first section of this Android app addresses the most important question, “Are you prepared?” To be able to confidently answer “yes”, you’ll want to review the information provided for what to do before, during, and after a disaster. The app includes fairly comprehensive instructions for the most likely disasters, e.g. earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. The purpose of this section is to help you understand what you can do now to protect yourself and your family. And if one of these scenarios were ever to occur, you’d have the basic knowledge to handle the situation.
Additionally, the FEMA Android app includes a checklist for creating a Basic Emergency Supply Kit. Included items are things like a flashlight, battery-powered/crank radio, batteries, whistle, and one gallon of water per person, per day for at least three days. Use the +Add button if you’d like to customize the list with personal items, e.g. medications or pet supplies.
The app also lets you save emergency meeting locations you’ve setup with friends/family in advance. The default page includes a primary and secondary in-town location along with an out-of-town location. Examples are places like the end of a driveway, a large tree, or a local community center.
If you are a disaster survivor, the FEMA app even includes the proper channels for applying for assistance through the web and over the phone along with recovery advice and support.
- Detailed disaster safety tips
- Emergency kit checklist
- Recovery assistance and centers/shelters
- Offline support for reference information
Areas for improvement:
- Recovery center maps need Google Maps integration for directions
- App does not always respond correctly with hardware Android “back” button
Conclusion: The FEMA Android app offers an excellent starting point for you and your family’s emergency preparedness plan, along with serving as a resource in worst-case scenarios. As Miguel de Cervantes (author, Don Quixote) said, “The man who is prepared has his battle half fought.”
The AccuWeather for Android app offers accurate and localized weather all wrapped together in a beautiful, straightforward interface.
- Version: 2.0.10
- Size: 9.08MB (no apps2SD, necessary for widget functionality)
- Category: Weather
- Price: Free
The AccuWeather app includes one of the best weather widgets in its class of weather Android apps. The 4×1 horizontal widget includes a graphic for the current weather conditions (e.g. partly cloudy/sunny), along with the current temperature (plus the RealFeel® temperature), location, and today’s high/low temperatures. Like most other widgets, tapping it launches the full app.
After initially downloading the app, the first thing you’ll want to do (even before creating the widget above) is to set your current home location. You can also manually add as many other locations as you please, and can quickly switch between them with the drop-down arrow. Each location’s page displays the information described for the widget plus humidity, visibility, UV Index, sunrise/sunset times, and wind conditions. An extremely useful feature here is the ability to swipe through the hourly forecast for the next 24 hours without having to switch screens.
For an extended forecast, use the calendar icon in the bottom menu to see what to expect for the next 14 days. The satellite icon adjacent to the calendar icon displays a time-lapse, radar view of your surrounding area on the map. This view is best used to visualize when and where a storm might be coming from. If you’re l00king for even more detailed information, the clapboard icon lists local/regional weather videos to watch.
Basic settings let you set your preferred units (e.g. °C/°F, time format), choose whether or not you want notifications, and decide the color of the app’s theme (nice for those who like to “theme” their entire Android device).
- Accurate and localized weather forecasts for locations around the world
- Current weather conditions updated every 15 minutes
- Unlimited locations can be stored, plus 10 “favorites”
- Elegant, informative homescreen widget
Areas for improvement:
- Increase length of time-lapse progression for the radar/map overlay
- Option to display both °C and °F simultaneously
Conclusion: AccuWeather for Android is one of the best weather apps available because of its attractive interface, informative widget, and up-to-date weather forecasts for locations around the world.
The Airbnb Android app offers a trusted community marketplace for searching and booking unique accommodations anywhere in the world.
- Version: 1.0.1
- Size: 7.21MB (apps2SD enabled)
- Category: Travel
- Price: Free
The Airbnb Android app lets you discover unique travel experiences in place of the standard, uninspiring hotel rooms many of us are accustomed to. Whether you’re looking for an “apartment for a night, a castle for a week, or a villa for month,” this app has you covered at any price point. Currently there are over 100,000 listings across 19,000 cities in 192 countries!
To get started, you can search through the available listings either by types of places (a.k.a. Collections) or by the specific city you’re interested in visiting. After your initial search, the filter feature is a convenient way to narrow potential places by things like price, # beds/bathrooms, check-in/out dates, and whether the place is a private room, shared room, or an entire residence. Results can then be viewed in either list format or my preferred method of pinpointed on a map. The latter method lets you quickly see how far you’ll be from things like public transportation, restaurants, and main attractions.
One enticing reason to use the Airbnb Android app is that the hosts (the people who you “rent” from) interact directly with you the entire time; from your check-in, to supplying your amenities, to offering up a local’s recommendations for where to go and what to see. From the many reviews I’ve read for countless locations, the hosts were almost always rated like a 5-star concierge. Note: once you’ve signed up, you can list your own abode directly from the Airbnb website.
All in all, Airbnb gives you a way to branch out and try something different (something worth sharing to family/friends).
- Uncover one-of-a-kind accommodations around the world
- Search by location, price, dates, amenities, and more
- Sleek, polished user-interface
- Book, confirm, and pay all via the app itself
Areas for improvement:
- Ability to list places from within the app would be a plus
Conclusion: The Airbnb Android app offers a new and exciting way to spice up your travels by letting you discover and book privately owned locations all around the world.