Life with MS

On the Road with Technology

By Joanne Fortunato

If you are not at home, but find yourself needing or wanting to use your mobile device, rest assured it is very easy and can be very useful. The first consideration is whether or not you need to be connected to the Internet. It is necessary to have a Wi-Fi or cellular-enabled device to connect. All smart phones have cellular and Wi-Fi  capabilities. Whether you can take advantage of these capabilities, especially while traveling, depends upon your carrier and plan.

You can also purchase other devices, such as a tablet, with cellular capabilities. Your device must have a cellular antenna built in when the device is purchased and will be more expensive than a non-cellular device. It also requires service from a provider. You can’t add this function after purchase. However, Wi-Fi-only devices can get Internet service via a cell tower by sharing the cellular connection with a phone. Be aware that you are still using data from your cellular plan. Check with your provider to learn how to use this feature.

Almost all mobile devices can connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi. In order to use Wi-Fi while away from home, you need to be in range of Wi-Fi service that is generally provided by a third party. These sites are often called hotspots. Many places allow you to connect without any security, but for some connections you need a password. Check at each location to learn how to connect. Be cautious, though. This service, while often provided free or at a nominal fee, is often not very secure. Think carefully before entering or sending personal information while using such a service. It is possible for unsecured connections to be hacked and your information used by others in a way that is nefarious.

There are many useful apps that can help with travel such as those for planning, navigating, or booking flights, hotels, and attractions. Some require an Internet connection, but many do not need online access while using them. They are available from iTunes or the Google Play Store. Many magazine and travel guide websites provide a comprehensive list of useful travel apps. An Internet search of “best travel apps 2015” will yield excellent results.

The camera is one of the most popular apps, especially while traveling, that does not require an Internet connection. It is worth noting that if you use the camera while connected to the Internet, the date, time, and location will be embedded in the photograph if this feature is not turned off. It is usually turned off in settings, under location services. If connected while using the camera, you should be aware this information will be included when you post or send the picture via text or email. This is known as geotagging.

Games are probably the most used apps that do not require an Internet connection. Games range from word puzzles to arcade types. Games are very useful when you need to pass time in an airport, on a plane, or in a car. Many “free” games only provide limited functions and you need to pay for additional features. They are often called “lite” versions.

There are several apps that can be used without an Internet connection if you preload the information on your device using an Internet connection before you travel. A good example of this is borrowing ebooks, audio books, and digital magazines from your public library. The lending policy for digital material is usually very similar to the nondigital policies. Digital material can be downloaded wherever you have a Wi-Fi connection available. You can also download maps and use the built-in GPS without an Internet connection.

Communicating with family and friends while traveling is convenient and simple with a cellular device, though this becomes a little more challenging and expensive if you’re traveling outside the U.S. If you are using an Apple device and have a Wi-Fi connection, texting or using FaceTime with someone who is also using an Apple device is free. Skype can also be used to communicate in a similar fashion on an Apple and/or Android device. In order to send or receive communication all parties need a free Skype account. Check the Skype website for more information.

Whether you are on a plane, in an airport, or in a train station almost everyone is using a mobile device. Mobile devices make traveling easier and more fun. Internet connections are readily available in many locations worldwide. Keep in mind when using a mobile device, even at home, you need to always be conscious of security and privacy issues.
Joanne Fortunato, BS, MA, is a retired computer technology teacher in Troy, N.Y. She has a master’s degree in education and has been teaching technology to teachers and students for 30 years. She has published several articles and books on educational computer technology, including several articles with the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). She was diagnosed with MS in 2006 and uses technology to aid in coping with the many difficulties that MS can present. She is excited to share this information with others that deal with the same and many other issues on a daily basis. Contact Joanne at