Over the last few years I have become utterly reliant on the internet. I now rarely buy newspapers and read almost all my news online. I subscribe to a number of RSS feeds and blogs. All my banking is done online. I work with email every day. And of course, Twitter (which has become a bit of an addiction).
We have recently returned from a holiday visiting my husband’s family in Wales. Clearly I was going to need my regular online access to avoid withdrawal symptoms. My in-laws don’t have wi-fi and I didn’t fancy having to plug in the MacBook everytime I just wanted to check Twitter. Luckily I have an iPhone and what with the 2.0 software update a few days before we left, I was all set.
I was fully prepared – I had my mains charger of course but I also bought a car charger which turned out to be essential as the battery life seems so poor since 2.0. (It also doubled as a charger for the children’s iPod Nano. We filled it with Wallace and Grommet and Sean the Sheep episodes. Kept them amused for hours.)
For most of the time I was relying on the standard GPRS signal. I found the O2 signal to be patchy, especially on the motorways. I rarely picked up EDGE and the only time I found wi-fi (via The Cloud in MacDonalds) it didn’t work. So I was generally relying on a super-slow connection. But better than nothing.
The 10 hour drive was made much more pleasant than previous trips thanks to my trusty iPhone. I was able to read the news, check the weather, read blogs and keep up to date with Twitter and email. The Maps app also proved extremely helpful, especially as it was able to update itself to show our current location. Not as good as the GPS on the new iPhone but useful nonetheless.
I was disappointed to find that the O2 signal is virtually non-existent where my husband’s parents live in West Wales. I was however able to get 1 bar sitting sideways on the toilet and leaning towards the window!
I use NetNewsWire on my Mac to access RSS feeds. I’d previously used NewsGator on my iPhone but thought I’d try out the iPhone version of NetNewsWire. Syncing wasn’t perfect but it was really useful to be able to download feeds whenever I was able to get a signal and still be able to read them later if I was out of range.
Another iPhone app I’ve tried is Twitterrific. Again, this is something I’ve come to rely on when at home on my Mac. However I felt the iPhone version didn’t stand up well against Hahlo. Hahlo’s main advantage is that it supports pagination. This was important to me as I might go hours without getting a signal and would then have a couple of pages of tweets to download when I could finally get online.
Despite the lack of wi-fi or a decent phone signal the iPhone did a good job at keeping me up to date with my online life. My family were relieved as they didn’t fancy putting up with me moaning for a fortnight if I could get my blogs and Twitter fix. (And my in-laws were very polite regarding my hogging the bathroom!)