Tuesday, July 20, 2010

have i-phone, will travel

I will now be back to posting more regularly.  We have set up internet and have made most of the administrative adjustments.  For those who don't know, I have recently crossed the ocean and am now living in the Middle-East.  Right before I left, I purchased an ipod touch.  I had previously stayed away from the touch and gone with the classic because the storage on the touch was limited.  Now that they have more storage, and since I had to give up my smart phone when I quit my job and moved, I took the plunge.  I am neither a die hard apple user nor a hater.  For those reading this blog, the travel benefits with the ipod touch/iphone are the point of interest.  Allow me to elaborate on some of my favorite travel apps:

  • All Subway  Maps of every subway system in the world.  There are many apps with specific lines for specific cities which also provide street maps and points of interest. 
  • World Fact Book  This is the app version of the website CIA fact-book.  Lots of country related information.
  • World Cultures and Culture Map  both provide quick country overviews of customs, taboos, laws, etc.  You should already know this stuff, but sometimes your flight gets diverted and you end up somewhere else momentarily.
  • British Airways This is the one I used since I flew with them, but most airlines are creating these apps.  They will let you check in, check flight schedules, baggage claim etc. 
  • Heathrow Airport Again, I used this one because it is where I had a layover.  Most of the larger airports are adding their apps to the lists.  They let you check flight schedules, see terminal maps, store listings, baggage claim, etc.  This is useful if you have a lot of bags or kids or both.  You don't have to just wanted through the airport looking for the bathroom or a restaurant.  Let your fingers do the walking.
  • Convert Bot   There are several variants of this app.  Some just handle currency exchange rates.  This one handles currency and all metric conversions.  This way you know whether to bring a coat or shorts when you hear the weather will be 40.
  • Lonely Planet Guide books and language books  These are a little pricer as far as apps go but can be very helpful.  There are also many dual language dictionaries for most languages.   
  • Priority Club  Track your hotel points, adjust reservations, find hotels.  Hard to beat. 
  • Angry Birds   Kill flight time and layovers with Angry birds.  Just don't blame me once you get hooked!  Also try Flight Controller  
For the uninitiated, there are some differences between the ipod touch and the iphone.  The iphone does everything the ipod touch does + it is a phone and can receive connectivity for the programs anywhere it has a signal.  The downside is that there are issues finding service and there are conflicting and complicated explanations about taking an iphone overseas and making it work.  I opted for the ipod touch which operates via wi-fi.  The upside is that there is no contract or connectivity issues regarding networks, roaming, etc.  The downside is that you have to be in range of a wi-fi network {and have the key}.  There is no perfect solution.  The biggest issue with the touch is that it is lacking a camera.  Apple knew better, they just know that they can cheat the public into buying multiple renditions of their toys.

There are two liabilities to carrying an i-device.  The first is that most places have pickpockets and i-stuff is highly valued since it is easy to turn over.  Perhaps try caution and some travelers insurance.  Half of my friends who have i-stuff have had them stolen, broken, or lost them.  The other liability is that if you do work on the street, having expensive gadgets can form a barrier for a number of reasons.  First, it can make you look rich and you then become a perceived outlet for financial gain.  Second, it makes you look like you don't belong in the poor part of town.  Kinda hard to work at the soup kitchen wearing a rolex.

All in all, it has been a great buy and a great tool.