Slideshow

In Pictures: 18 great IT tools for Android

These Android apps, from network sniffers to SNMP MIB browsers to SSH tools, will come in handy for network and IT pros

  • Top tech tools for Android I’ve long wanted to love Android tablets because of the huge variety of apps available to do just about anything I could possibly want. These include things like network sniffers, SNMP MIB browsers, port scanners, and even some SSH tools. Unfortunately, a few of these tools require root level access to your device, and on many Android devices, rooting can be a nasty and mysterious ordeal. But for these killer tech apps, it’s worth it.

  • Fing Fing -- a play on ping -- has almost every common network quick test that you could want, and it’s free! Well written and easy to use, Fing has only two drawbacks. It requires root access, and it will sometimes leave you hanging. I wish it at least had a spinning beach ball to tell me when it’s still searching. Price: Free Developer: Overlook Compatibility: Android 2.1 and up

  • IP calculator (IPv4 and IPv6) IP calculator (IPv4 and IPv6) is not the most sophisticated IP calculator, but it’s handy because it displays subnetting information and whois DNS info on the IP address you’re looking at. If you want a more traditional subnet calculator, try IP Network Calculator by OrbitingPluto. Both apps are free. Price: Free Developer: noir.de Compatibility: Android 1.6 and up

  • IP Cam Viewer I’ve been using IP Cam Viewer for years. Just being able to link to all of my lab’s security cameras has been a godsend. However, IP Cam Viewer is also a great way to check the traffic cams as I’m getting ready for my morning commute. Pay the $3.90 for IP Cam Viewer Pro to get access to more than six cameras and support for a much larger variety of IP-based webcams. Price: Free Developer: Robert Chou Compatibility: Android 1.5 and up

  • Network Mapper Network Mapper is most of all a netscan app, but the reason it’s so useful (and well worth that $1.56) is that it can tell you which network devices are running NAT behind them. Fast and easy, Network Mapper also includes an NIC database that can help you narrow down the search for rogue devices. This app wants root access. Price: $1.56 Developer: Ian Hawkins Compatibility: Android 1.5 and up

  • Screaming NetTools Screaming NetTools is a great network combo tool that absolutely requires you to root your device. It will run without root access, but most of the tools will be grayed out until you give them room to run. I still like the dedicated subnet calculators better, but it’s nice to have this app’s higher-level DNS type tools available on my tablet. Price: $2.99 Developer: shift-eight generation Compatibility: Android 1.5 and up

  • SNMP Manager Neither Google Play nor the developer’s website mentioned that SNMP Manager needed rooting, but it certainly worked better once I rooted my Nexus 7. So go figure. This app is a stripped-down SNMP query tool that, unlike many similar apps I found on Google Play, goes beyond just the wireless network your device is on. (Duh.) I’ve only tried SNMP v1 and v2, but I have no reason to doubt that v3 will also work. Just be careful not to slip as you type in the key. Price: Free Developer: Y. Matsumoto Compatibility: Android 1.6 and up

  • SNMP MIB Browser I’m forced to use a pretty wide variety of network monitoring tools, some better than others. The biggest problem is digging through the MIB to find the OID leaf that actually describes the function/feature I’m trying to monitor. SNMP MIB Browser is a bit clunky, but doing a hierarchical probably would have been worse. This app doesn’t appear to be ready for the Nexus 7 platform yet, as it kept crashing. Note too that it wants root access. Price: Free Developer: Zoho Compatibility: Android 2.1 and up

  • SSH Tunnel When you don’t have an SSL-VPN or IPSec VPN already set up, SSH tunnels will do the job -- and they just plain work. SSH Tunnel absolutely requires root access, but allows you to tunnel just about any app through the SSH tunnel to your destination, e.g. a Linux machine at work. You could point your app at 127.0.0.1 port 12000 and pop out from the Linux box to hit your IIS-based WebDAV server at 10.51.0.200 on port 80, for example. If this sounded Greek to you, just search “how to ssh tunnels” on Google. It’s a bit convoluted, but it's worth learning. Price: Free Developer: Max Lv Compatibility: Android 1.6 and up

  • Wifi Analyzer Wifi Analyzer is one of the must-have apps for any network geek. Being able to quickly tell who’s the bozo on an overlapping channel can make a significant difference in everyone’s Wi-Fi throughput. Just beware that not everyone thinks this awareness is a good thing. At one hotspot, I almost got my head taken off by a guy that was trashing channels 1 and 6 in the 2.4GHz range. He seemed to think my nicely asking to move his channel setup was an intrusion on his privacy. Price: Free Developer: farproc Compatibility: Android 1.5 and up

  • VoIP Bandwidth Calculator Setting up QoS profiles typically means having to know how much bandwidth the stream will take up. The handy VoIP Bandwidth Calculator can be a godsend in Cisco shops, where QoS is a black art. Just make sure you count all of your VoIP devices on each switch so that you have the correct sum of all your VoIP streams. Price: Free Developer: Savagelands Compatibility: Android 2.1 and up

  • Google Authenticator Google Authenticator is a software implementation of what the RSA folks have been doing for years with those SecureID keychain dongles. Just seeing what happened to Wired Magazine’s Matthew Honan should be enough to get anyone interested in multifactor authentication. The Google authors have also made a PAM authentication module available so that you can use Google Authenticator for your Linux-based server apps. Price: Free Developer: Google Compatibility: Android 2.1 and up

  • SplashID Safe Do you have too many passwords? I sure do, and I use SplashID’s password vault to manage them. SplashID Safe for Android synchronizes to my desktop, scrubs the database if someone tries to break in, and password-protects the backups. A USB thumb drive version is available too. The best part is, SplashID even has a version for my Nokia Lumia 710 running Windows Phone. There are lots of password vaults, and some of the free versions are pretty good. I chose SplashID so that I can have cross-platform support for the 2,000+ passwords that I need to keep track of. Price: $9.99 Developer: SplashData Compatibility: Android 1.5 and up

  • Daylight Zone I used to have an office in the Pentagon, and those daylight clocks were one of the first pieces of furniture I put in. Daylight Zone is the app that I check before I do any international calling -- something that I wish others would do to. My boss had a nasty habit of calling me at his start of day (8 a.m. Eastern), but that was just a little ahead of my mornings in Hawaii (2 a.m.). The early bird catches little sleep. Price: Free Developer: sacnoth Compatibility: Android 2.1 and up

  • Electrodroid Of all the Android apps, Electrodroid is by far the one I want most on my iPad -- but alas, it’s Android-only. Other electronic reference apps are a pale imitation of this amazing work of art. Simple and elegant, Electrodroid is the app for the Maker community -- or any Maker wannabe. Price: Free Developer: Iero Compatibility: Varies with device

  • DLNA Server DLNA is fast becoming the standard for sharing multimedia, and DLNA Server does the trick nicely. It just tickles me to think that I can stream movies from my tablet to any DLNA-enabled TV or other device. If you’re looking for AirPlay streaming, the only video AirPlay app I could find for Android is AppleTV AirPlay Media Player. It works, but only sometimes, and for some goofy reason it forces you to create an account on their system. Price: Free Developer: Ice Cold Apps Compatibility: Android 2.1 and up

  • ES File Explorer File Manager If you passed on ES File Explorer File Manager in the past, take another look -- it has improved in leaps and bounds over the last year or so. It now can browse files on LAN-based SMB servers as well as cloud services including Amazon S3, Dropbox, Skydrive, Google Drive, Ubuntu One, Yandex, SugarSync, and Box. It supports Bluetooth and FTP, and it will open Zip archives, tarballs, and other compressed files. It does a great job of helping you find stuff on your device, and does a pretty good job of displaying images, video, and PDFs too. Price: Free Developer: EStrongs Compatibility: Android 1.6 and up

  • Bubble Bubble -- a pure and simple bubble level -- is an app that should be on every device. I use it almost constantly for leveling racks, server rails, cameras, desks… the list goes on and on. A spirit level app in your pocket is totally a must-have. Price: Free Developer: Ben Zibble Compatibility: Android 1.6 and up

  • Google Nexus 7 Toolkit Rooting Android involves modifying the device through the developer interface and installing the Superuser app (Android with an eyepatch) that serves as the gatekeeper to root access. The problem is, there are too many rooting solutions from too many different places, all with varying levels of competency (and trustworthiness). If you’re lucky, you have an Asus/Google Nexus 7 tablet, which can be rooted with the Google Nexus 7 Toolkit. Other platforms may require odd incantations and animal sacrifices during the blood moon. Price: Free Developer: Mark Skippen Compatibility: Android 4.1.1

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