Please help me get the best out of my Android tablet when offline
September 4, 2013 5:38 PM   Subscribe

I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 tablet running Android version 4.1.1. It's a great device to use -- when I'm connected to wi-fi. When I'm out of wireless range, it's currently mostly useless. I'd like to get more use out of it when it's offline.

When I'm connected to the wi-fi, I can watch Netflix and other video streaming services, listen to Pandora, of course I can go on Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, Metafilter and other sites, Skype, etc. When it's offline, basically all I can do is play a few games. I can't even read any of my Kindle books unless I've remembered ahead of time to sync up my books.

So what else can I do with this when I'm away from wi-fi? I know I can load up some mp3's and play them locally on the device (I have winamp installed). Netflix doesn't offer an "offline mode" for viewing movies or TV shows, and I can't use my Amazon Prime account on Android so I can't rent and pre-download movies from them. Are there other ways available to rent and download movies, to watch on an airplane for example? This is something that I'm particularly interested in doing since I have a plane trip coming up and would like to watch a movie or two if possible.

What other fun or productive uses are there for my offline tablet that I haven't thought of? What do you use your Android tablet for when you're offline?
posted by stennieville to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Crossword puzzles, mainly. I also send long articles from the internet that I can't read just then (e.g. I came across them on Metafilter at work) to Pocket, where I can read them later. I read a lot on my Kindle app too, but I do have to remember to sync beforehand.
posted by brainmouse at 5:41 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I load books from Calibre and read with Moonreader. (I use Kindle a lot as well).

I put on comic books and read with PerfectViewer.

I copy over dvd rips of our movies and play them with Moboplayer.

The Play store also sells books, magazines, music and movies too. It's very similar to the Kindle/Amazon experience, and can be stored on the device for later playback.

There are quite a few good games. I'm a fan of adventure games. Many of the best point and click ones have been ported over to Android: The Bards Tale (currently on sale), Broken Sword; Broken Sword II Smoking Mirror. these are all point and click right from the Play store.

However, if you want to go down this route, the ScummVM is available, which means many of the old Sierra games (including King's Quest, Leasure Suit Larry) and Lucas Arts games (The Curse of Monkey Island, Full Throttle, Sam and Max hit the Road) are playable (you have to supply the games though). Here's a getting started guide.
posted by bonehead at 6:05 PM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

You can buy or rent movies through Google Play and the built-in android apps can sync the,m for offline use. You can also just copy over movies you've torrented although sometimes you may need a different player app, like xvideo.

The Play store has books too and you can upload your own PDFs/epubs via thePlayweb UI and then sync them for offline storage too.
posted by GuyZero at 6:54 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding Pocket. Springpad also works offline.
posted by cnc at 7:35 PM on September 4, 2013

I also have a Galaxy Tab 2. I haven't even turned the WiFi on in 2 months or so now, and the Kindle app certainly retains my place in the several books I am reading. I don't know exactly what you're saying about Kindle.

Also, there are various ways to convert DVD's on your computer to a format useable by the Galaxy (such as AVI or MP4). I've watched several movies and TV shows that I've rented on DVD this way. There is no need to be online to enjoy the Galaxy.
posted by RRgal at 8:00 PM on September 4, 2013

I use Instapaper, alternative to Pocket. There's also Readability. Here's a good comparison of the 3 services. Instapaper App is $3-- I assume the others are similar.

I too use MoboPlayer, and I use a youtube video ripper (Freemake Video Downloader) in my case to download some longer videos for offline viewing. You can download the videos at high quality since you're getting them for later viewing. In the case of my Android Tablet (Galaxy Note 8, so roughly what you have, compatibility-wise), the software offers to convert the videos to known good format, but I find that isn't always required; so be sure to test videos out before you establish your habits for loading up the Tablet.

Also, this is a bit niche (that's a lie, it's niche in the extreme), but the Tab and similar tablets support Bluetooth, which in turn supports OBDII (that's On-Board Diagnostic 2) bluetooth gadgets which are about the size of your first smartphone and plug into a universal diagnostic port in your car (above the driver's footwell). Load up the app called Torque, and you then build custom dashboards with dials, codes, and all sorts of computery data that your car is willing to offer. Check-engine light is on, but you're all out of electric tape to cover it up? You can read, google, and, if necessary, clear out the computer code that's causing it. It'll help you tell the difference between a major car problem, and a minor light-bulb problem. Forewarned is forearmed against predatory mechanics. OBDII bluetooth readers are cheapish-- $25 at most, and maybe half that.
posted by Sunburnt at 8:37 PM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

I have a couple of Android tablets and live with irregular wireless. I use an app called Feedr, synched through Feedly, to follow a couple hundred RSS feeds. As long as I have a few minutes of decent network every couple of days, this keeps me in fresh reading for all of my bus rides and diner breakfasts and weekend afternoons.

Rdio lets you store albums locally on mobile devices, so I keep a cache of listenable stuff that way.
posted by brennen at 11:24 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm using Duolingo to learn Spanish, SuperCard to memorize Morse code, and DraStic to play Animal Crossing on the go.
posted by evoque at 5:42 AM on September 5, 2013

I installed an epub reader on my tablet and downloaded books from Project Gutenberg. This app doesn't sync with anything else, so I always have something to read on my Kindle Fire. Pronoiac's Ebook Index of the Magic Catalog is helpful for finding picks.

Also, have you tried audiobooks on your device?

I like Pocket and Evernote on my tablet a lot.
posted by dragonplayer at 6:42 AM on September 5, 2013

« Older Neil Young, "On The Beach"   |   One-off online personal ads? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.