This post may contain affiliate links.* Click here to read our affiliate policy.
Your Android phone is one of approximately 1.4 billion worldwide according to a Google Nexus conference in 2015. We’ve come way past the point where all a phone could do was make a phone call and send a text: Now, you can turn your cellphone into a full-on survival kit containing everything from a compass to a real radioactivity counter.
You should always keep a spare phone and solar charger as part of your survival kit: In many cases a phone could be the difference between life and death. Here’s our picks for the essential apps to load it with.
1. Banking Apps
In any kind of emergency event, you don’t want to be cut off from your money; at the same time, many people don’t want to have cash lying around the house for security reasons.
For this reason, make sure your phone – and backup phone – has the latest version of your bank’s app installed should you need to access your money remotely.
Know your surroundings. This sounds easy enough, but an emergency situation might cause a need to change your environment. In an event like that you’ll have to know where you’re going. Maps.me seems to be one of the apps that comes highly recommended, because it allows you offline access to both maps and route planning.
Navigating with the stars is an essential survival skill, and one of the first things you should teach yourself. Not everyone has the time to cram an entire solar system into their memories, though; for that, there’s a little app called SkyMap: Just point it at whatever you need to see and the app will tell you exactly what you’re looking at.
Available on Android.
4. Compass Apps
Part of finding your way around means you might be forced to turn to a compass for direction; Android phones already have a built-in compass, and there are a couple of great apps to make it work. For Android, the simplest is Android Compass.
If you’re running an iPhone, switch to Commander Compass Lite instead – it’s free!
5. Edible and Poisonous Plants
Do you trust yourself enough to be completely sure whether or not that plant is poisonous? If not – and most people aren’t – download this handy guide to Edible and Poisonous Plants. According to the app’s description, it contains details on over 100 useful plants, 15 poisonous plants, flash cards, and even a quiz so you can make sure you’re staying on top of the most vital survival information.
Their information is sourced from the US Army Survival Manual and “open source public records”; it goes without saying that you shouldn’t trust just one app with your safety but confirm any and all information with several sources.
Available on iPhone.
6. Pl@ntNet Plant Identification
Pl@ntNet is another spin on the plant identification app, but instead of just being a catalog, you can point your camera right at what you’re trying to identify and the app uses photo recognition tech to tell you what it is. There’s some serious backing and research behind this software, so you can trust it.
7. Survival Guide
Familiarize yourself with survival guides as a rule: They are filled with information that has been collected through the trial and error of others so that you don’t have to. The first one on this list has most of its information coming from the US Army’s survival guides, and it’s a quick and easy way to find out what you’re dealing with or to just study up on your survival knowledge when waiting in line somewhere.
8. Radioactivity Counter
This is one of those things that you don’t think you’ll need until the day you do – and then you’ll really, really wish you had it. In the event of a nuclear accident or any kind of exposure to radiated material, keep this radioactivity counter for your phone handy. (Yes, it works; while we’re not exactly sure of the gritty tech behind it, you can read more about the radioactivity counter app from its creator here.
Zello is the go-to app for turning your phone into a walkie-talkie; this is essential for keeping in touch with your family through a secure channel. You pick the channel, and anyone with the channel details can access that channel and join the group discussion via voice – just like a walkie-talkie works normally. You might want to set up a specific channel for your survivalist contacts, emergency evacuation group or family.
Available on iPhone.
10. SAS Survival Guide
The second of survival guide apps on this list, the SAS Survival Guide app is based on the hugely successful survival book the SAS Survival Guide by former soldier John “Lofty” Wiseman. The app is filled with crucial survival info that, quite frankly, you could find yourself dead without. According to the app’s description, it contains the book’s full text, sixteen downloadable instruction videos, checklists, a sun compass, a morse code signalling device, photo galleries of edible and poisonous plants… This is the survival app.
Available on iPhone.
If you’re into cool gadgets, this is a great one to invest in. Take a look at this app called Therm-App; you’ll have to buy the special thermal-imaging camera that comes with it, but you’ll be glad to know that it’s Android-capable. Therm-App is basically the Android version of a thermal imaging camera – gear that could normally cost you a whole lot more.
What are your essential survival apps for keeping your head together in the urban jungle? Use the comments to let us know. And, as always, stay safe.