Most cell phones and all tablets support Wi-Fi connection. So it makes sense to explore useful apps that can be used for the home network. Apps that go beyond something cool to have, but also provide great features and usability.
I’ll explore fourteen Android apps that I feel you need for your home network. Note that all the apps are free. But many have paid versions that provide more features.
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 are port scans of all common ports of devices, pinging devices and running a trace route to the device. [App link]
2) WiFi Analyzer – If you run a home network, keeping your wireless LAN 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 looks like and 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. [App link]
3) Sweet Home WiFi Picture Backup – Although I admittedly have never tried one, I always thought 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 it. 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 found it. SweetHome WiFi Picture Backup 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 my phone seemed to upload either way. 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. [App link]
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. [App link]
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, because 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. [SqueezeDroid link] [Squeezebox link]
7) iMediaShare – iMediaShare is a DLNA app for mobile phones. DLNA-enabled devices can 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. [App link]
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. [App link] [Review]
8) MoboPlayer – With applications like iMediaShare above, you can connect to DLNA devices to watch content. However, while native Android codecs don’t include things like MKV support, MoboPlayer does.
It also obviously plays local media on your phone or tablet. About anything you can throw at it, MoboPlayer can play. [App link]
9) PrintBot – One of the most annoying things for cell phones with home wireless capability is the lack of native support for printing. PrintBot to the rescue! Simply add your home network printer to PrintBot and print documents, PDFs, and images from any application on your phone. [App link]
10) Speed Test – Speed Test is an Android app that uses cloud servers to test your Internet connection speed. Since the measurement depends on many factors that are out of your network’s control, the result isn’t 100% accurate. But, with that said, it is a quick and easy way to see what the quality of your phone’s data connection may be. [App link]
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. [App link]
12) ConnectBot – ConnectBot is an SSH client for the Android platform that can allow you to manage and control machines on your network via a terminal. [App link]
13) IP Cam Viewer – If you have IP cameras on your home network, then IP Cam Viewer is a must-have. 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. [App link]
If you have a favorite Android network-related app that we haven’t mentioned, tell us about it below!