I May Be an Addict, But I Have a Gift for You

My mother thinks I’m addicted to my iPhone (and iPad and computer). What can I say? I guess “if the shoe fits…”

It’s not what you think. I rarely use social media. I apologize now to all my Facebook friends for not posting “Happy Birthday!” on your timeline when you were so kind to post on mine.

I NEVER play games. I used to play Words with Friends with my husband, but he quit playing after I slaughtered him three times in a row. Bad sport!

When I text, it’s because I have something important to quickly tell someone. Except when I’m sending a picture that I just know a family member would love to see!

I do not Snapchat, WeChat, Instagram, Pin, Whisper, Tinder or Vine with anyone.

But back to my mother.

I took a trip with her to Portugal this summer. Her treat. Before we left, I was obsessed with finding out whether our hotels and river boat cruise would have W-Fi. I refuse to pay for an international cell phone plan when I know I can do everything I want if I just have free Wi-Fi.

They did and I was as happy as a clam because I could stay connected with my life back home. In the mornings and evenings when we weren’t out sightseeing I’d email, text, listen to voicemails, make calls and look up stuff online – all for free. Except for paying 2.3 cents per minute when I had to call another phone back in the States. That’s basically free to me.

That’s why she thinks I’m addicted. But she certainly reaped the benefits when she was able to talk to her grandchildren!

Using an iPhone for all of this in Europe isn’t hard. It’s just those pesky settings and knowing which apps are best for the way you want to connect.

Here’s what I did.

First, I just wrote down everything I needed to do to prepare for using my iPhone in Europe:

  • Which settings did I need to change on my iPhone before I arrived in Europe to avoid cell phone charges.
  • How to set up my iPhone for free access to my Voicemail.
  • How to set up my iPhone for free texting.
  • How to call any phone, worldwide, for free or nearly free.
  • How to save and use maps for sightseeing.
  • How to return my iPhone to its pre-trip settings.

That led to writing an ebook about my little system which led to developing an online course to teach other travel-lovers how to use their iPhones in Europe for free (or nearly free).

Which leads to why I’m even writing all of this. My new online course “How to Use Your iPhone for Free (or nearly Free) is now live and I’d like to offer it to you, my readers, for free through this Thanksgiving weekend.

It’s on the e-learning site called Udemy and all you have to do is click on this link to register and get my course for free:

https://www.udemy.com/how-to-use-your-iphone-for-free-or-nearly-free-in-europe/?couponCode=FREEINVITE

If you have to re-enter the code it’s FREEINVITE.

Even if you don’t have an upcoming trip but think you might one day soon, go ahead and claim the free course. It comes with lifetime access.

Need more info? Here’s the promo video I created for the course:

And finally, I want you to know how grateful I am for you. For reading my articles or visiting my website.

Happy Thanksgiving!

ios 8: The Disappointments

In my last article, I described some of my favorite improvements to the iPhone’s new operating system called iOS 8. This week I’ll share some of the features that disappointed me and begin an explanation of the new iCloud Drive.

Siri

When I first heard that iOS 8 would let me voice-activate Siri with a simple “Hey, Siri…” I was super excited. I use Siri a lot for dictating text messages, placing phone calls, finding phone numbers and directions. Rather than holding down the Home button to activate Siri, I could just see myself telling my phone on my desk or car console what I wanted it to do.

Alas, it’s not to be. “Hey, Siri” will only work if your iPhone is plugged into a power source. I’m a plug-my-phone-in-when-I-go-to-bed kind of person. I certainly don’t plug and unplug it as I go about my day. Until Apple fixes this restriction, “Hey, Siri…” will only be useful in the car for people who plug their phone into a car charger each time.

Health app

Another much anticipated feature was the new Health app. Theoretically, it can monitor your health and physical activity, share that information with other apps or even a health care provider, and provide emergency contact and medical information in case you are incapacitated.

It’s a great idea but requires a lot of manual user input for things like nutrition and calories and multiple apps or equipment for “automatically” measuring activity, fitness, sleep and vitals. It’s too complicated for most people to get all of that working properly together. If the upcoming AppleWatch is able to do most of the physical monitoring and Apple makes it seamless to connect that information with the Health app, then it will become incredibly useful.

iCloud Drive

Are iCloud and the new iCloud Drive the same thing? No, and yes. iCloud is the storage service Apple has been providing for iPhone/iPad backups and certain types of documents. While most people have tried to stay within the iCloud’s free 5 GB of memory, more storage could be purchased at an expensive price. (As a reminder, Apple’s Photo Stream, iTunes purchases and any shared photo albums don’t count against that free storage.)

Apple’s new iCloud Drive is a service that has been added to iCloud. What’s different about it is that you can now store any type of document or image in iCloud Drive and access it from any device as long as that device has the correct application to open it. Once you need more than your original free 5GB of iCloud space, you can pay a monthly subscription for more. It’s very similar to Dropbox but a bit more expensive. If you like Dropbox, I’d stick with that service for now.

As with so many new technology products, just wait a bit. I believe you will see these “features” improved and perfected in the coming months.