Do Apps = ‘appiness?

I have to say, if it hadn’t been for the excellent guidance from a neighbour, and my earnest need to solve a technology issue on my last cycling expedition (New Zealand and Australia), I probably would never have entered the world of smartphones.



My day-to-day need for a mobile phone is very limited. Like many, I carry one around for convenience and safety. Only a handful of people know my number, so I expect few calls. However, in my quest to keep my luggage super-light on the bike, I jumped into the smartphone environment and, to my surprise, I found I could (learn to) do all the things I needed to do on this tiny hand-held device: email, blog, facebook, skype, take photos, read e-books, use GPS, send SMS texts, surf the net, listen to the radio, catch up with the news headlines…….. In fact, though



called a smartphone, the least useful facility turned out to be the phone itself……..

Many of the great mysteries of modern communication can be solved by the burgeoning App market.  It would seem that, whatever you want to do in life, there will be some App to provide a solution. Although ‘Latitude’ is now a ‘retired’ facility on Google, my wife could track me on my journey on the sub-continent via this layer in Google Maps. When my phone was connected to 3G, she could see where I was (though a weathermargin of error was detected when, one night, she thought I was somewhere offshore!).

From the tiny confines of my tent, in a remote corner of New Zealand, if I could pick up a 3G signal, I could communicate with the world. And it required no more than the touch of an App to call up my blog and write the day’s post; to open Facebook and catch up on the latest messages; to open Google Maps and find my way to a friend’s house in Sydney; to log on to the BBC and read the news headlines, and get a weatherBBC-News- report for the following few days. Instead of carrying books, I connected my phone to my Kindle archive; with a built-in camera I could take photos and directly upload them to my blog or Facebook; and with WiFi connection, I could Skype home without incurring any cost.

For those of you long-distance bike riders who feel bereft if you aren’t carrying (in addition to a smartphone) a netbook, GPS, SLR camera and MP3 player, with all the required leads and transformers, learn to detach yourselves and have faith in that small hand-held device that goes

Translation App

Translation App

with you everywhere. You will experience a surprising level of liberation.

And if you have a challenge with a local language, the Google Translate App has VOP (Voice over protocol) which allows you to say something in English and will provide a written version of what you say in the foreign language. Though frequently inaccurate in its detail, it should be readily understood by any sympathetic listener. Try it. It is surprisingly good.

About Frank Burns

Looking for the extraordinary in the commonplace………taking the road less travelled……..striving for the ‘faculty of making happy chance discoveries’ in unremarkable circumstances. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on October 7, 2013, in Cycling UK, Miscellany and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Karon and I were very dependent upon our iPhones during our five and a half week LEJOG. I, too updated our blog almost daily and we booked almost all our accommodation online as we went. I also had OS maps of all the areas we passed through with the route marked and had the phone mounted on the bars so we could check our route whenever we needed. We carried a solar charger but never needed it. Good job really as it rained most days!

  2. Reblogged this on appyhourspecials.

  3. Sheila Cakebread

    Hi Frank, did you find a cost effective way of paying for the data? Did you buy a local SIM and do Pay As You Go? I assume that WiFi wasn’t available too often in the more remote parts of NZ.

  4. Hey Frank, it’s been a while. Have you used mapmyride? You might like it…helpful to see what hill profiles await you on your upcoming rides. It’s best if you build your route on a computer first, and then use the app as a ready reference.

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