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.
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