It may be tempting to leave your iPhone at home this summer when you go on vacation.
Or at least to leave it in the hotel room while you’re exploring a city.
But the truth is that the iPhone 4 is such an amazing little computer that it can be really useful on vacation — both for research and logistics and for taking and sharing photos and video.
The first step is to move your iPhone mail app to the last screen, all by itself, so you don't open it by habit. YOU DO NOT WANT IT unless there's something absolutely necessary in there. Use Webmail if you must.
If you're going overseas, you're also going to want to turn Cellular Data and Data Roaming off. UNLESS you have money to blow and want to sign up for one of AT&T's International Roaming packages. But don't try data roaming without one -- that's how people get $10,000 phone bills.
While you're on the plane, do some trip planning with apps like Lonely Planet's city guides. They even include offline maps so you can figure out where you are on the ground (including using the phone's GPS/location services) without using any data roaming.
There are also a bunch of travel guidebooks in Apple's iBooks store and Amazon's Kindle store, but they can be pricey and don't include phone-specific interactive features.
It's also possible to use the iPhone's Google Maps app offline if you pre-load map tiles using your hotel or cafe wi-fi, and then just use GPS to track your location on the cached map tiles. This doesn't always work, and you'll have to deal with annoying error messages telling you to turn data roaming on. (Don't!) But at very least, you could use it to take a bunch of screenshots of the map to look at later.
Take photos, use apps like Instagram to make them look cool, and share them instantly over wi-fi with friends and family back home on Facebook, Twitter, Path, Instagram, Tumblr, or other services.
Use the iPhone 4's camcorder to shoot videos, then edit them in iMovie (on your phone) and upload them to YouTube (all from your phone)
Take cool panoramic photos using the iPhone camera and motion sensor via apps like Photosynth from Microsoft (!)
- Driver's licence.
- Back of credit card (including phone numbers).
This is not very secure, even if you use the iPhone's passcode unlock system. So you might consider an extra layer of protection, such as an app like Stash Pro. And remember to delete the photos when you get back, just in case.
In addition -- or instead -- you might upload a copy to cloud storage services, such as Dropbox. This way you have a copy of the document accessible even if your phone gets stolen.
- Read e-books for pleasure.
- Use it as an alarm clock or world clock.
- Make VoIP calls using Skype or another app over wi-fi. Or just use voice and SMS roaming, it's not THAT expensive in most countries for short calls.
- Check your bank and credit card accounts.
- Buy train tickets using apps for services like the Heathrow Express.
- Check in to your plane trips.
- Convert currencies, weights and measures, etc.
- Check out the news, or, if you must, Twitter.
- Try dating in strange places using apps like Badoo.
- Play games.
Don't forget to lock your phone in the safe when you're leaving it in the room. Some hotel safes like this one even let you charge the phone while it's inside.
And don't forget to take pics of food BEFORE you eat it, so you never forget the amazing meals from your vacation.
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