At the border, entering the "country" of Transnistria. Photo taken December 8, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Tiraspol, Transnistria...the country that doesn't exist.

Where are they going next? Northern Moldova. Arrive December 11th.

Friday, April 3, 2015

We have an iPhone!

Not very exciting news to those of you who have been using "smart phones" for years, but it's big news for us! Our son Alex got himself a new iPhone 5, so we inherited his old iPhone 4S. Thanks Alex!

When we were in South Korea last October, our friend June lent us her old iPhone to use for the month. This gave us some experience that we could use to decide whether or not we wanted (or needed) to carry around a device like this.

So, while we used it that month, one of the things we learned was that we really have no need to actually talk to people. In other words, using this smartphone as an actual phone wasn't a priority for us.

And while it was certainly handy to have portable access to the internet, that wasn't the number one thing we used it for.

The most important thing for us?

Mapping, and the built in GPS.

So, the first thing I did with this new iPhone that Alex passed on to us was to figure out the best available travel map apps. I spent most of the day yesterday trying out the different available apps and decided on a free mapping app that allows you to use the iPhone's GPS capabilities without needing to be hooked up to the internet at the same time!

When we travel with this phone, we may not have cellular or wi-fi access. Most mapping systems, such as google maps require that you be connected to the internet in order to use the mapping and GPS locator because the maps simply use up to much memory to have them permanently installed on your device.

But I found an app called maps.me that allows you to download a basic world map, and then more detail only for the area you're in. So, the basic world map doesn't take up much space...but when you need more detail, for example Nova Scotia, you then download only the map of Nova Scotia to be used while you're in that area. The detailed map of Nova Scotia is now on your device, and the GPS can now work with that map without being connected to the internet in any way. When you're done, you delete that particular area.

I tried it out yesterday, and it works great!

The other thing we will use it for is hiking. There's a similar mapping system called Gaia GPS that is specialized for tracking and mapping your hiking trips. Only downside to this one is the one time $19.95 fee. However, given that we do a lot of hiking I think it's something that we'll splurge on.

So, most of the time, we will use this device offline, however when we're out and about touring a city it'll certainly be handy for checking emails etc when we're close to a free wi-fi connection.

The other thing we may do is to look into getting it unlocked so that when we're in a different country we can simply buy a SIM card and a pay as you go data package. All of this costs money though, so it won't be a priority unless the price is right.

Thanks again for supporting our travels by doing your Amazon shopping through our links here at Travel with Kevin and Ruth. Every time you buy something this way, we get a small commission and you pay the same price that you would anyhow. So, just click the link and shop as you normally would...

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33 comments:

  1. The GPS feature on our iPhone has saved our butts several times. How did we live without it?

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    1. Keep in mind that most people are connected to the internet when they use their GPS feature, this mapping system isn't so it won't be quite the same but hopefully it will work just as good.

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  2. We love the GPS feature on Suzie's I phone, and she loves it for a multitude of reasons. Plus the texting works great for me mainly because of my hearing impairment, I like to be able to read my messages so I can fully understand.

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    1. We won't be using our iphone as a phone or for texting because most of the time we will be offline. We aren't setting it up for cellular and will only use it if we can access a wifi connection so we will be very limited.

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  3. When we got our new phone, I made sure we got the unlocked version. Figured it would be handy for traveling and adding SIM cards like you mention. Have fun playing with your new phone! Its amazing what you can do with rhem .

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    1. Up here in Canada it isn't quite so simple to get an unlocked version and they charge quite a bit to do that if you want to get it unlocked. We would certainly like to get it unlocked as many countries have very inexpensive SIM cards and pay as you go plans that was part of the reason that we decided to get a smart phone.

      Kevin is definitely having fun with it and I know the more we get used to it the more we will see what it is capable of.

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  4. I agree - The GPS on the phone is the only GPS we use. Used to have a Garmin and a Tom-Tom and finally gave up on both of them. Need to see if the Android apps include your map one above.

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    1. Kevin said that he still wants to have our actual GPS unit in the car or motorhome, First the screen is bigger and he is just happier with it but that might change as we get used to the iPhone more.

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  5. I have the iphone 4S that was new in August 2013. Still going strong. I use it to store a lot of music for long plane rides/etc. I intend to keep it as long as it works. Very nice of him to pass it on as they still have about a $200 value in the resale market.

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    1. Also meant to say if you install the facebook messenger app you can send messages that show up on the face of the phone just like texts - and can use free wifi to make that work when you land in an airport to let your family know you've landed/quick easy way to communicate. My stepdaughter used that a lot as we did not buy a data package for her on an old iphone that her dad had.

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    2. Yes, Kevin was checking the prices and he found them selling for around $150. It was very nice of Alex to let us have his and we will also be keeping it for as long as we can.

      I am sure that Kevin has probably already downloaded that app as we do use facebook a lot to keep in contact with both Lindsey and Alex.

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  6. I'm technology illiterate....what do you mean 'unlock a phone' and what are sim cards. I had one replaced on my iphone because it said 'invalid sim.' I wasn't sure what it was....explain or point to a learning website :-)

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    1. When a cell phone is "locked," it can only be used on the cellular carrier that sold you the phone. An unlocked cell phone can be used on any network that is compatible with the phone's wireless technology, such as GSM and CDMA networks.

      So for us this means that we wouldn't get dinged with roaming charges if we travel because we could then buy a SIM card for each particular country we travel to and then buy a pay as you go card for data

      Here is a webpage that will tell you more about a SIM card. http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-sim-card.htm

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  7. PS I do use the GPS a lot while traveling to find our hotel or find a good place to eat. I also use it to keep in touch with friends and family via FB messenger or email. Only probably is....my eye sight isn't what it use to be so sometimes it's hard to read written text even though I enlarge it....still have to scroll a lot :-(

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    1. Yes, it will be great for that kind of thing when we are traveling as long as we can access a wifi signal unless we buy a SIM card for that country and then we would be able to access the cellular system which of course would make things even easier providing that it isn't super expensive, if it is then we will just stick to wifi signals.

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  8. Wow, we thought it took us a long time to get an IPhone...we got into the smart phone life about 4 years ago and use it constantly. Jerry still has the 4 and I have the 5 anticipating upgrading both to 6 or maybe both just to 5 still uncertain. We use the GPS, maps, locating nearby things to do, and for most of our networking. Still not fast enough on tiny keys for typing so when we write our blogs we use the laptop and/or our Surface.

    Welcome to the the smart phone lifestyle...hope it is all you expect it to be and more! Just remember...there is no going back!

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    1. Yes, it took us a while to conform to this technology and even then we still aren't doing it the way the normal population does as we will only be using a wifi connection or no connection at all unless we are in a country that has a very cheap cellular system then we would purchase a SIM card and buy a pay as you go package providing that we get the phone unlocked first.

      There is not way we would use the iPhone to do a blog post, it would take forever. Kevin is still researching many of it's possibilities . :-)

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  9. Good info. I'm trying to figure out maps on my phone this week.

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    1. Hope this helps you out then Chris!

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  10. We were just like you, traveled a lot trying to decide whether a Smartphone was really worth the price. On this trip we decided we really needed our own secured Hotspot so we went to the Verizon store, which was our cellphone carrier already and got their Jetpack, and I got an Android phone. We love both! Now we can securely do banking, etc on the road, and one the phone we love the GPS and the ability to locate things along the road effortlessly! Definitely worth it! I will check out your GPS suggestion as well!

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    1. We also have the Jetpack for when we are traveling in the US so we will just have to turn it on and have the iPhone with us and then we can us the wifi network without having to go out and get a SIM card for the phone or have to have it unlocked although I am sure we will get it unlocked for travel outside of Canada or the US.

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  11. I use Map My Hike. It is really cool for telling you how far in miles you went, how long it took and then gives you a diagram of the hike. Enjoy your new iPhone.

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    1. We like Map My Hike but the problem for us with that, is that you need to have either a cellular connection or a wifi connection and many times we won't have any connection, this is why Kevin is trying to find one that will work without having to be connected to anything and strictly uses the built in GPS unit in the phone itself.

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  12. Thanks for the maps link. I am installing it on my Android now.

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    1. You're welcome! We are looking forward to trying it out properly ourselves.

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  13. Congrats on the new-to-you iPhone! Been following your blog religiously for quite some time now and really enjoy it. I highly recommend the app Motion-X GPS, especially for hiking. It's only $0.99 and you can download all sorts of Topo and road maps. I'm a technology geek and recently purchased Gaia GPS, just so I could see if it was superior to Motion-X GPS. I haven't spent a lot of time with it, but at first blush it just doesn't seem as user friendly as Motion-X GPS, and certainly not for the money. Anyhow, you really can't go wrong for less than a buck (albeit a US buck).

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    1. Thank you Pete both for taking the time to comment and for telling us about Motion-X GPS. Kevin has now downloaded it and is eager to try it out. As you said it is hard to go wrong with a price like that.

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  14. Welcome to the world of smart phones (hopefully I'll get it right this time)
    Before you go out and buy any apps see what you have on your phone that's already free
    You could start by having Alex go into Gmail if he has one or Hotmail if he has one
    If he does you can go on one of two sites Type in Google locator map or. https://www.google.com/locationhistory.
    . From there have Alex enter in his username and password
    That will bring you to Google locator map if you get that far (this should work 90 % of the time 90% of the people add this feature inadvertently unknowing). you should see a calendar on the left-hand side of the screen and a map on the right-hand side of the screen
    in the calendar push any previous day on the map on the right side will show where that phone has been in a 24 hour calendar day ( On my phone I have gone back almost 2 years )
    If Alex uses that phone with his Username and password ,,,, do bookmark it,,, you will be able to go back to it anytime without logging in and open it
    This will also work on an android Smart phone as well
    Now sit back and think about it
    ,,, it could be pretty scary, ,,,and then think whoever???????
    Hope you enjoy your day

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    1. Alex totally cleared everything out of the phone before handing it over to us so we are starting with a clean slate and Kevin actually prefers it this way.

      Kevin will however have a further look into this to see what he might be able to find.

      Delete
  15. I have had a droid for 4 years now and like it and google maps MUCH better than Garmin who led us astray much too often. Wish an iPhone were in my budget. This droid seems not to be able to delete anything so I would be really afraid to put maps on it given how slow it already is. But I sure would like being able to map where there is no signal.

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    1. An iPhone wasn't in our budget either but when a used one was given to us we weren't about to turn it down. You could probably still you the above mapping system on your droid, it won't hurt to try.

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  16. You can also download Google Maps for offline use. https://support.google.com/gmm/answer/3273567?hl=en

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    1. Thank you very much Daffy4u, Kevin wasn't aware of this!

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