iPhone Traveler: International iPhone use Pt. 2

This week I’m looking at international iPhone use. There are several ways to use or avoid your iPhone while traveling outside your home country. Our goal is to have fun, benefit from having a phone but avoid outrages charges.

Today, I’m talking about data roaming. Data roaming refers to using the Internet, email and other similar data connections outside your carrier’s coverage. Essentially, you’re “roaming” outside of your coverage zone.

Roaming costs can be quite very high. Even the simple act of checking email once a day can be costly. It’s a good practice to disable data roaming while traveling internationally. Fortunately, your iPhone has it switched off by default.

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The iPhone Traveler Pt. 1 – Pre-vacation planning

iphonepasspordApple’s iPhone is the best computer I’ve ever owned. It’s powerful yet fits in my pocket. It gets fantastic battery life and, with the proper protection, can withstand the bumps and bruises of daily use. It’s always connected to the Internet and can be almost whatever you want it to be, from an email client to a GPS receiver. It’s a camera and a weather station; a jukebox and a concierge. In other words, your iPhone is the perfect travel companion.

In this series of posts, I’ll describe how I use my iPhone to manage every aspect of a vacation. It’ll break down like this:

  • Pre-vacation planning
  • Making the journey
  • Getting the most of your destination
  • Returning home
  • Preserving and sharing the memories

I’ll share the apps that I use, review related products and have a few surprises along the way. I mean the good kind of surprise, not the “your water heater has been quietly leaking into the basement since 2 AM” kind. I’ll also making a few assumptions.

First, I assume you own an iPhone and that it’s up and running to your satisfaction. [1. I’ve got a post on setting up an iPhone from scratch that I can save for the end of the month if people request it.]

[pullquote]As of this writing, there are over 500,000 apps available in Apple’s App Store. I encourage you to consider the apps I’ll describe this month (after all, I’ve listed them because I enjoy them so much), but I also suggest you conduct a search of your own. It’s possible that the “mother of all travel apps” has been released since this article was published. If you find it, install it and love it, and please let me know.[/pullquote]

There are a few other things to keep in mind as you read these articles, other than how handsome and talented I am. First, all prices are US dollars unless otherwise specified. Also, app prices, functioning and availability may have changed since the time of publication. See each app’s online description for up-to-date details. Also, the apps I suggest this month are starting points. I do not believe that any one app is the definitive solution to a given need, even those I personally swear by, because everyone’s preferences and needs are different. Also, the sheer number of iPhone apps available make it impossible to identify any one as a definitive solution.

Finally, this series will focus on traveling within the continental United States of America. Later this month, I’ll share my detailed suggestions for international travel, including dealing with overseas charges. Also, while all of the apps I describe may be purchased through the US App Store, they may not necessarily be available in versions of the store outside the US. With the large number of available apps, you are likely to find a different one that will work well for you.

Now, let’s get started.

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Traveling with your iPhone


It’s a rainy Tuesday evening in Paris. My sister and I are exploring the neighborhood around our hotel. It’s our first time in France and we want an authentic Parisian dinner. We don’t have a guidebook, a map or a smartphone. We’re just walking, enjoying the twists and turns and hoping that a restaurant will present itself.

At last we find La Varanque, known colloquly known as “Philippe’s.” It looks dark inside. so I raise my hand to my forehead and press it against the window. Inside I see a bald man in his late 40’s wearing a white T-shirt and a stained apron. He notices me, points to the clock on the wall and then spreads his fingers wide. Five minutes. My sister and I wait outside.

At last, Philippe opens the door and welcomes us in broken English. We sit and he brings us a carafe of red wine. Later he returns with menus and we ask him to bring whatever is good. Soon enough we’re dining on escargot and beef bourguignon. There’s more wine.


A woman enters, dripping from the rain, carrying a large glass bowl that she bought from a flea market near the restaurant (my sister and I had walked past it during our restaurant hunt). We excahnge a quick “Bonjour!” with her and she begins talking to Philippe. As she does, the bowl slips from her hands and smashes on the floor. I help her pick up the pieces until Philippe returns with a broom and a dustpan. The grateful woman thanks us, pulls up a chair and spends the next fifteen minutes or so discussing her life in Paris and our lives in America. She struggles with English and we struggle with French, but that didn’t matter. We were all laughing together, smiling, eating, connecting. Four human beings who had never met before and, likely, will never see each other again. Enjoying each other’s company. Enjoying being human, alive in the same, temporary moment. It was one of the greatest nights of my life.


That’s why we travel.

There is nothing like experiencing a culture that’s completley foreign. Like connecting with people who do not live as you do, through their music, their food, their clothing, songs, holidays and flea market purchases, both broken and intact. I love travel, because it’s the most life-affirming thing I know how to do.


Starting this Wednesday, 52 Tiger will be doing a month-long series on traveling with your iPhone. I cover everything, including:

  1. Pre-trip planning
  2. Traveling to your destination
  3. Enjoying your visit
  4. Managing the return trip
  5. Preserving your memories

It’s going to be great  and I’m excited about it. I’ve managed everything from a week in Paris to a Sunday drive with my iPhone. You can, too.

So pack your bag, grab your iPhone and get out there. The world is waiting.

This article is part of a series on traveling with your iPhone. You’ll find the other articles here.

Daily Tip: Create a station in Apple’s Podcasts app

Apple released version 1.2 of Podcasts for iPhone and iPad with several big changes, including custom station creation. I like this feature a whole lot, as it lets you group podcasts however you like and moves between new episodes across shows automatically. I’ve already made several, including science, drama, fun and tech. Here’s how to create a custom station in Podcasts for iPhone and iPad version 1.2.

  1. Subscribe to some podcasts. Enter the store and pick a few that you like.
  2. Tap My Stations and then New Stations.
  3. Enter a name for your new station. A list of your subscribed podcasts appears.
  4. Tap those you’d like to add to your station. When you’re finished, tap Done.

That’s it. While on the My Stations screen, tap Edit to re-order your stations. You can delete a station (but not the podcasts it contains) by swiping across its title.




This post is part is one of 31 tech tips I published in March, 2013You’ll find the rest here.

Daily Tip: Use Alt to resize Finder windows

Today’s tip comes from Robb Lewis, who notes that if you hold Alt while resizing a window in OS X, the window will resize while staying centered on the screen. Very nice. Add the shift key to keep everything proportional.

Note: I tested this in Mountain Lion and it worked, but it didn’t work in Snow Leopard. I did not test in Lion. If you do, let me know what happens.

This post is part is one of 31 tech tips I published in March, 2013You’ll find the rest here.

Daily Tip: Option-click menu bar items for additional information

The menu bar items Apple puts in OS X are pretty useful, but you can make them even more so by holding down the Option key when clicking on them. Note that this trick doesn’t work with all menu bar items, just Apple’s (as far as I’ve found. I haven’t tested every app, of course!). Here’s a look at the result of several items with and without an Option-click (note that I’m using Snow Leopard in these screenshots).

Battery, right-click
Battery, Option-click
Battery, Option-click
WiFi, right-click
WiFi, right-click
WiFi, Option-click
WiFi, Option-click
Volume, right-click
Volume, Option-click
Volume, Option-click
Bluetooth, right-click
Bluetooth, right-click
Bluetooth, Option-click
Bluetooth, Option-click

The odd thing is there’s a difference in the Time Machine menu, too, but OS X won’t let me take a screenshot of the Option-click version. When you Option-click, Back Up Now turns into Verify Backups, and Enter Time Machine becomes Browse Other Time Machine Discs.

This post is part is one of 31 tech tips I published in March, 2013You’ll find the rest here.

Daily Tip: Change iPhone folder names to emoji

This one’s a bit of fun. You can change the name of an iPhone folder to an emoji icon, or combine emoji and text for a fun, nice-looking change. The first step is to enable emoji, then alter the folder name. Let’s get started.

Activate Emoji

iOS treats Emoji as a distinct keyboard, so you enable it in the keyboard preferences. Follow these steps:


  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Tap General, then Keyboard
  3. Tap Keyboards, then Add New Keyboard
  4. Scroll until you find Emoji, then tap it
  5. Exit Settings


Change your Folder Names

You’re all set. To activate the Emoji keyboard, do the following whenever you’re entering text:

  1. Tap the globe icon to switch to Emoji (or tap and hold for a pop-up list of active keyboards)
  2. When you’re done, tap the globe icon again to switch back

Now that we’ve got that sorted out, it’s time to add icons to your folder names.

Open and folder and tap-and-hold any icon to enter “jiggle mode.”


  1. Tap the folder’s label field.
  2. The keyboard appears. Tap the globe icon to switch to the emoji keyboard and find a descriptive icon.
  3. Tap the home button when you’re done.

That’s it. You can combine letters and emoji if you like, or use the icons alone. I think it looks cute.

This post is part is one of 31 tech tips I published in March, 2013You’ll find the rest here.

Daily Tip: Find draft emails quickly on iPhone

Here’s a trick I found quite by accident. You can jump directly to a list of your draft emails in Mail for iPhone by pressing and holding the compose button:


Jus hold your finger down and this list pops up. Tap any one to jump right to it. I just happend to press and hold the compose button and up popped the drafts list. Excellent.

This post is part is one of 31 tech tips I published in March, 2013You’ll find the rest here.

Daily Tip: Export your feeds from Google Reader

Google has given Reader its walking papers. It’ll be gone as of June 1, 2013. Here’s how to export your feeds to an OPML file:

  1. Log into your Reader account at google.com/reader
  2. Click the gear icon and then select Reader Settings.
  3. The settings screen appears. Click the Import/Export tab.
  4. At the bottom of the screen, click Download your data through Takeout.
  5. You may have to sign into Google again.
  6. A new screen appears. When your file is ready, it’ll say “100%.” Click Create Archive.


At this point, the process begins. How long it takes depends on how many feeds you subscribe to. If you don’t feel like waiting, opt to receive an email when your file is ready. Otherwise, click Download when the process is finished (you might have to sign in yet again). Your file will download.


The result will be a folder on your computer with files that end in .json and one that ends in .xml. Now you’re ready to find a new client and import your feeds via that .xml file. But that’s another post entirely.

This post is part is one of 31 tech tips I published in March, 2013You’ll find the rest here.

Daily Tip: View long titles in Music for iPhone

Apple’s Music app for iPhone does a nice job of playing back your songs, podcasts and audiobooks. Unfortunately, the iPhone’s small screen prevents you from seeing a long title — be it a song, album or artist — at a glance. Fear not! There’s a simple fix.

Just tap and hold on any long title for a pop-up that displays everything in full, no matter how lengthy.


This post is part is one of 31 tech tips I published in March, 2013You’ll find the rest here.