• The top 13 Android apps you NEED for your home network

    We've come a long way with home networks and cellular phones. With most cell phones now having wireless network capabilities, it only makes sense that we explore useful apps that can be used for the home network. Apps that go beyond just something cool to have, but instead have great function and usability. In this article I'll explore the top 14 Android apps that I feel you NEED for your home network.

    1) Overlook Fing - Overlook Fing is probably THE best Android app you can get for your home network. Within a minute it will have mapped out your network, including IP address, DNS resolved name, MAC address, and ethernet vendor of each device it discovers. Once devices are discovered they stay on your network list until you delete them. If subsequent scans show them as inactive they'll simply be grayed out. This is useful for Overlook Fing's Wake On LAN functionality, which we often use to wake up our PlayOn box. Other things you can do Overlook Fing is port scans of all common ports of devices, pinging the device, and running a trace route to the device. You can find Overlook Fing on the Android market.

    2) WiFi Analyzer - If you run a home network, keeping your wifi healthy is crucial to having everything operate at peak levels, and it keeps your family happy too, this is where WiFi Analyzer comes in. Granted it's not a full spectrum analyzer, so you won't detect interference from microwaves and baby monitors, but it will show you what your wireless network congestion in the neighborhood looks like, and it will help see if someone chooses a rogue channel beyond 1, 6, and 11 which could be causing you headaches. WiFi Analyzer can also graph signal strength over time and show signal strength of specific APs, helping you to decide just where to place them. You can find WiFi Analyzer on the Android market.

    3) SweetHome! - Although I admittedly have never tried one, I always thought the Eye-Fi memory cards were a great idea. I liked the idea of syncing pictures over wireless simply when in range of the wireless network, without pulling out cables or even thinking about. I wondered why no one had ever come up with an Android app that would basically do the same thing. Turns out someone had and I just hadn't searched for one. SweetHome! is an Android app that, when your phone gets in range of your wireless network, starts uploading all of your pictures to a predetermined share. Options include only uploading when connected to a charger, although with my phone it seems to upload regardless. I also had some small trouble with user authentication that took some finagling, but overall it's a great app that does the job well. You can find SweetHome! on the Android market.

    4) AndSMB - Your phone is on your home network, so you should be able to browse files just like you do with your home computers right? That's where AndSMB comes in. AndSMB is a SMB (Samba/CIFS) client for Android devices. It allows connecting to shared folders hosted on Windows or Samba servers. Not only that, but you have upload and download support, you can rename, delete, get file details, and create folders. I often use this app to ensure our VortexBox has ripped a movie correctly before moving on to the next. You can find AndSMB on the Android market.

    5 and 6) SqueezeDroid and Squeezebox - Both SqueezeDroid and the official Squeezebox app from Logitech are great apps to run your Squeezebox music systems or computer on SqueezePlay. I often use my phone if the Squeezebox Duet remote is not handy or when syncing players, as the audio control is more granular. I like SqueezeDroid a lot, however it does not have a Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down option for Pandora. Consequently the official Logitech Squeezebox app has this functionality, however I sometimes get overlapping of text with it on my EVO 4G. For this reason I use both apps. You can find SqueezeDroid and Squeezebox on the Android market.

    7) iMediaShare - iMediaShare is a DLNA app for mobile phones. What DLNA does is allow any DLNA-enabled devices to seamlessly share content with each other. For example, say you want to share pictures on your phone with the whole family. Simply start up iMediaShare on your phone and then go look at them on any DLNA device, such as many TVs. You could also watch videos from your VortexBox or Hulu from PlayOn, directly on your phone. That might not be the best scenario, but that's another question all together. You can find iMediaShare on the Android market. A close runner-up, and maybe better in some respects, is Skifta. Skifta does the same thing and it's DLNA certified, seeming faster in some applications. You can download Skifta at the Android market.

    8) MoboPlayer - With applications like iMediaShare above, you can connect to DLNA devices to watch content. However, native Android codecs don't include things like MKV support, MoboPlayer does. It also obviously plays local media on your phone. About anything you can throw at it, MoboPlayer can play it. You can find MoboPlayer on the Android market.

    9) PrintBot - One of the most annoying things I have when it comes to cell phones with home wireless capability is the lack of native functionality for printing. Simply add your home network printer to PrintBot and print documents, PDFs, and images from any application on your phone. You can find PrintBot on the Android market.

    10) Speed Test - Speed Test is an Android app which uses external internet servers to test your internet connection speed. Using external internet servers you should be aware that the result is not always entirely 100% accurate and it should be used as a gauge more than anything. With that said it is a quick and easy way to see what the quality of your phone's data connection may be. You can find Speed Test on the Android market.

    11) Remote RDP - Remote RDP is an Android client for Remote Desktop Connection. I always find doing Remote Desktop Connections via the phone a little bit frustrating, but in a pinch this app works very well. You can find Remote RDP on the Android market.

    12) ConnectBot - ConnectBot is an SSH client for the Android platform which can allow you to manage and control machines on your network via a terminal. You can find ConnectBot on the Android market.

    13) IP Cam Viewer - If you have any IP cameras on your home network, then IP Cam Viewer is a must have for you. It can support multiple cameras in either single or matrix view and can even control PTZ cameras. Perfect for seeing what the cat is doing at night, all from the comfort of your bed. You can find IP Cam Viewer on the Android market.