Trav­el­ling with an An­droid de­vice


TechLife Australia - - WELCOME - [ CHARLES HANDMER ]

SMART­PHONES HAVE BE­COME an es­sen­tial travel item – pro­vid­ing in­for­ma­tion, nav­i­ga­tion, book­ings, board­ing passes, cam­era, trans­la­tion, and more. Within Aus­tralia there’s not much you need to or­gan­ise, but when you head over­seas things get more com­pli­cated.


In­ter­na­tional roam­ing is a big sub­ject, so we are only sum­maris­ing some key points here.

How your phone works over­seas mainly de­pends on your mo­bile ser­vice provider, whether your phone is locked to that provider, the fre­quen­cies your phone sup­ports, and which coun­tries you visit.

Most coun­tries use the same GSM sys­tem as Aus­tralia, but the USA and Ja­pan, for ex­am­ple, also use CDMA. The USA’s Ver­i­zon and Sprint use CDMA so Aus­tralian phones can’t be used on these net­works for calls or text.

What about data? As long as your phone sup­ports 4G it can po­ten­tially con­nect to 4G LTE data net­works world­wide, but cov­er­age can be patchy. Ba­si­cally, you have three main op­tions: * Use in­ter­na­tional roam­ing on your ex­ist­ing phone and SIM to re­ceive calls and texts on your own num­ber while over­seas – this can be ex­pen­sive, although if you are with Voda­fone you can add roam­ing for $5 per day. Be sure to check that your mo­bile ser­vice provider has in­ter­na­tional roam­ing to the coun­tries you need. Buy an in­ter­na­tional SIM to use in your phone – buy­ing a SIM in the coun­try you are vis­it­ing is cheap­est, although buy­ing lo­cally can be more con­ve­nient. We had a good ex­pe­ri­ence with a Europe SIM bought from https://sims­di­ This means you will have a dif­fer­ent phone num­ber, with a dif­fer­ent coun­try code, while trav­el­ling. You might be able to re­di­rect your calls to this num­ber, but not SMS texts. * Rely on Wi-Fi rather than the mo­bile net­works for some or all of your com­mu­ni­ca­tion – you can make calls and send mes­sages through apps like Viber, What­sApp and Mes­sen­ger.


Phones from sup­pli­ers such as Tel­stra tend to have in­ter­na­tional data roam­ing set on by de­fault. This can lead to a big bill shock if you haven’t pur­chased a roam­ing data pack

(which is also ex­pen­sive), be­cause the phone may be us­ing data in the back­ground. So make sure to go into the set­tings of your phone and switch data roam­ing off – search for “roam­ing”. Some­times it needs to be switched off un­der mul­ti­ple set­tings - check care­fully.


There is more chance of your phone be­ing lost, stolen or dam­aged while you are trav­el­ling, so make sure it is fully backed up. Our re­cent TechLife ar­ti­cle on the Easy Way to Back up An­droid makes it re­ally sim­ple. In sum­mary: Google Backup and Re­store lets you clone your phone set­tings, con­tacts etc. to a new phone if re­quired. It’s in your An­droid smart­phone, so just make sure it’s en­abled.

Go to Set­tings/Google/Backup (or search for Backup to find it) and make sure “Back up to Google Drive” is switched on.


Of course you will be snap­ping away cap­tur­ing mem­o­rable mo­ments on your trav­els. Your phone prob­a­bly al­ready has the Google Pho­tos app in­stalled. Ac­ti­vate it and link to your Google ac­count to ac­cess un­lim­ited photo and video stor­age for free.

Un­less you have a big in­ter­na­tional data al­lowance, set Google Pho­tos to up­load on Wi-Fi only. Then re­lax, your lat­est pho­tos are be­ing up­loaded when­ever you are con­nected to Wi-Fi.

Re­mem­ber that if you want to delete pho­tos on your phone but keep them in the cloud, use “Delete De­vice Copy” or “Free up De­vice Stor­age” on the Google Pho­tos app menu.

There is more de­tail in our Easy Way to Back up An­droid ar­ti­cle, in­clud­ing how to back up your SMS mes­sages.


Nav­i­ga­tion apps such as Google Maps or Waze can trans­form an un­known city into one where you can find your way around, lo­cate ev­ery mu­seum or gallery, find and get feed­back on bars and restau­rants, and much more.

These apps are de­signed to work on­line, and can use a sig­nif­i­cant amount of mo­bile data, but you can use Wi-FI to down­load Google maps of the ar­eas you are go­ing to, and use them off­line. The process is: Open Maps and search for the city or lo­ca­tion you are in­ter­ested in. Tap next to the place name in the bar at the bot­tom of the map. Tap “DOWN­LOAD” and a popup screen will ap­pear. Ad­just the map size to the area you need and tap the DOWN­LOAD but­ton. An off­line copy of the map will be avail­able on your phone for 30 days. To ac­cess these maps, open Google Maps and tap on the menu bars at the top left, then se­lect “Off­line maps” from the menu that opens.

Note that you can also set “Wi-Fi only” on this menu to avoid us­ing mo­bile data.

An­other fea­ture of Google Maps is shar­ing your lo­ca­tion. Tap on the blue dot that shows where you are on the map and the op­tions will come up. Your lo­ca­tion will be vis­i­ble to the con­tacts you se­lect. Very use­ful for meet­ing up in a crowded city – just home in on the other dot!


There are a num­ber of trans­la­tion apps avail­able, but it’s hard to do bet­ter than Google Trans­late, which is also down­load­able to work off­line. Just get the app from the Play Store, set it up, and down­load the lan­guages you want avail­able.

Apart from text trans­la­tions, Google Trans­late does a good job of voice recog­ni­tion and lets you have (some­what stilted) con­ver­sa­tions in dif­fer­ent lan­guages.

There is also the clever cam­era trans­la­tion op­tion, that dis­plays ap­prox­i­mately trans­lated ver­sions of signs, menus, park­ing me­ter in­struc­tions, any text in fact. This can be in­cred­i­bly use­ful, as well as very amus­ing!


As long as Lo­ca­tion is en­abled in your An­droid de­vice (in Set­tings/Google/ Lo­ca­tion) and the de­vice is switched on, you should be able to lo­cate it through Google’s Find My De­vice:


Sam­sung pro­vides a sim­i­lar Find My Phone func­tion, plus there are many apps avail­able to help se­cure your phone or tablet.

One of our favourites is Lock­watch - Thief Catcher.

Lock­watch stays in the back­ground un­til some­one tries to un­lock your phone with the wrong PIN or pat­tern. Lock­watch then se­cretly takes a photo with the front cam­era and emails it to you along with GPS co­or­di­nates and a lo­ca­tion map.

All of the above ser­vices also give you op­tions to lock or erase your phone re­motely.


Other apps to con­sider in­clude Tripad­vi­sor for in­for­ma­tion on ev­ery­thing, Moveit for pub­lic trans­port info, Spo­tify for mu­sic, for ex­change rates – there are end­less op­tions once you have our es­sen­tials in place.

Open Google Maps and search for where you are go­ing.

Back­ing up to Google is built into your An­droid de­vice.

Tap the top left menu bars to get this view, then tap Down­load.

Make sure you turn data roam­ing off if you don’t plan to use it.

You can trans­late text or voice, even have spo­ken con­ver­sa­tions.

the ac­tual sign at top, and how you see it in Google Trans­late cam­era mode.

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