With the British weather being as fickle as always, planning your holiday can be a challenge. But whether you're staying at home to take your chances on a second heatwave or travelling abroad to even sunnier climes, here are my favourite tips and tricks to stay connected and make the most out of your Android phone over the summer.
From finding great family-friendly content to entertain kids on long journeys, to easy ways to extend your battery life and simple ways to prevent high data charges, those of you with Android phones (that's Samsung, Sony, HTC, Huawei, LG and more) should take note:
1. Protect yourself from bill shock
Want to use your phone abroad without the fear of coming home to a huge bill?
- Save music to offline with Google Play Music. Open the Google Play Music app, touch an album or playlist and touch the Download icon.
- Save movies or TV series offline with Google Play Movies. For example, you can save the entire Game of Thrones Season 5 and watch it during your flight.
- The Google Translate app for Android lets you use camera mode to snap a photo of text and get an instant translation even if you don't have a data connection. Simply open the app and choose the language, click the camera action and point. This instant translation currently works for translation from English to and from French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish and many more languages if you do have WiFi.
- Use Google Maps to save an area offline so you can access it without having to pay for data. Open the app, search for a place and click on the menu to select "save offline map".
2. "15% battery remaining"...DON'T PANIC!
Running out of juice and separated from your charger?
- The latest Android phones running our Lollipop operating system (like the brand new Samsung S6) have a battery saver feature which extends device use by up to 90 minutes. Click on battery in settings, click on the menu and turn it on.
- Get handy battery stats - the estimated time left to fully charge is displayed when your device is plugged in and you can get the estimated time your device has left in battery settings.
- Also most Android phones charge with any micro USB cable -- you don't need the specific cable from that particular phone manufacturer. So if you forget to bring your charger, you can easily find one that works.
3. Find the perfect travel app-anion
Use the Travel & Local section on the Google Play store app to browse the top apps for travel assistance, as well as trending up-and-coming ones. Here are a few to get you started:
- With a million downloads, Hotel Tonight is the latest must-have app for last minute hotel deals.
- Belocal puts travelers in touch with independent guides and tour operators around the world offering you a curated selection of the best tours around the globe
- Airbnb - an oldie but a goodie. 5 million downloads later, find unique accommodations around the world
- Tripadvisor - 100 million+ downloads, chocked full of reviews and photos from travellers, plan your perfect trip.
- Expedia - a beautiful app that lets you find hotels and flights.
- Google Earth - the top free app at the moment with 100m + downloads, explore the globe with a swipe of your finger.
- Field Trip - a guide to the cool, hidden, and unique things. it pops up a card with interesting details whenever you get close to a point of interest.
- Skyscanner and Kayak both offer quick and easy ways to book flights.
4. Snap, snap, snap away
Fed up of that message saying you don't have any more room for photos on your phone? Or worried about losing special memories if you lose your phone?
- Download the new Photos app where you can store unlimited photos. Yes unlimited!
- Plus you can easily search for photos (just type in "beach" to find photos from previous holidays) and quickly and easily edit photos and make collages, gifs and movies.
5. Entertaining kids on long car journeys?
No more "are we there yet?"
- You can set up restricted profiles on Android tablets to prevent family members who may have access to your tablet from viewing mature content.
- The new Google Play for Families section also lets you find family destinations across the Play store, with new features for browsing by age and interests.
6. Make your phone work for you
Get the information that you want when you need it most with Google
- View the Google Now cards that are waiting for you at any time, like the weather, your flight and hotel details and what time you need to leave for the airport based on what's the traffic is like.
- You also get cards for currency conversion, translations of useful phrases, and the current time at home.
- Open the Google app and scroll down to see all of your cards. On some devices, you can also access the Google app by swiping up from the home button. Or if you use the Google Now Launcher, you can always find your cards just by swiping to the right from your homescreen.