A Traveler's Guide to webOS | webOS Nation

A Traveler's Guide to webOS

by Tim Stiffler-Dean Sun, 10 Apr 2011 12:59 pm EDT

As I write this, my bags are sitting next to me and ready to go on quite a long trip (56 hours on a bus) across most of the United States. Since I have made this trip several times already, I thought it would be best to share some of the best tips I've learned in the last year for being efficient with your webOS device. If you plan on heading to any events that are coming up, these tips could mean the difference between having a phone that will keep you well occupied during your travels, and having a dead one that sits in your suitcase.

To be honest, a lot of these tips can be useful for day-to-day activities as well. Especially if you are prone to doing such things as killing your battery halfway through the day or want to keep track of places you've been recently. If you use this article as a checklist before you go travelling, you'll be happy with the experience you have through the trip, and people you meet will be glad that your device is around for finding directions, places to see, translate languages and whatever else you want. Jump on over the break to to read more about how to make the most out of your trip with a webOS device.

Battery Life

Perhaps the number one concern for travelers as they are getting ready to leave is the amount of time it will take for their device batteries to die before they have a chance to charge it again. If you take trips like the one I am about to partake in, your device will need to last 10-15 hours at a time before you get just one hour to juice it up a bit. If you've been a fan of webOS for any amount of time, you'll know the battery life on these devices are not the greatest; though admitedly, the Pre 2 is much better at managing battery life than previous generations were. If there was one tip I could give you that would solve many of your problems right away, it would be to just go ahead and buy a Pre 2. As it is, though, that's easier said than done, so here are a few other ideas on how to expand your battery life:

Take multiple batteries.

No matter where you are going, having an extra battery (or two) is always a great idea. If you have several devices already that use the same battery (as I do), then just keep one device on and use the other for charging that spare battery whenever you get a chance. For those of you that will need to buy a spare battery on its own, check out our accessory store here to get a better deal than even HP is able to get you. You can buy a standard battery for $10 less on PC, or even get an extended battery for less than what HP is charging in their online store.

To be honest, the standard Palm battery works fine for me, even in longer trips, since I do some other tricks as well. While the Seidio Innocell 1350 might be nice so you don't have to worry so much, the 17% increased life isn't too noticeable when your away from a charger for so many hours in a day. And the Innocell 2600 makes the phone a bit bulkier, which is too annoying to deal with. So I just stick with a few standard batteries and save the extra money for buying apps.

Cut back the lights

Dimming the brightness on your screen will see a huge increase in battery life, so make sure you do that early on. Besides just using the factory utilities for dimming the screen, you should also check out some of the patches in preware to turn off the gesture area lights, the keyboard lights and turn off some of the built-in alerts. You'll be surprised how those three non-intrusive actions can greatly affect your battery life. If you do need the screen brightness up a bit so that you aren't straining your eyes to read the screen, then by all means do so. But at night when everything is already dark, turn the brightness down again - trust me, the screen will be bright enough for you to see clearly at night.

For media lovers

Keeping your music in the cloud is an easy thing to do, since it essentially allows you to take all of your music everywhere that you go. However, doing so will also drain your battery quite well in your travels. If you love to listen to music and podcasts as I do, make sure that you get the files directly onto your device so that you don't need to connect to your network's data so often. Before you leave on your trip, take the 10 minutes required and download all of your music and podcasts that you want to listen to into the music folder on your device. You get the same music, without the hassle of killing your battery. Plus you don't have to worry about losing that data connection while travelling in the middle of nowhere, cause you have everything you need right on the phone.

When listening to music and podcasts, I'll have to recommend sticking with the Amigo Music Player for its insane resource management. It may not have as many features as other media players, but it doesn't need as many resources to work either. In my own trials, the Amigo Music Player has even used less resources (and performed better) than the default media player.

Wifi and Airplane Mode

While switching to a wireless network is better for battery life than constantly staying in your 2G/3G Data connection (which might not work the whole time you're travelling anyway), turning on Airplane mode is even better. Since your phone will constantly be looking for a connection (and thus wasting valuable battery) while data is turned on, and since no one will ever be doing some task that requires the internet 100% of the time while on a trip, there's really no reason to leave it on. Tap that top right corner phone menu and put on Airplane Mode for a much needed boost in battery life.

Keep charging cables handy

Lastly, don't forget to take a couple of charging cables with you. Yes, one is really all that you need to actually charge the device, but having two does come in handy. If you only have one device that needs charging, keep one charger in your carry-on bag and one in your larger bag for storing underneath. This way, just in case you lose the first or want to leave one at the hotel while you visit the city that you're at, you always have one available.

Of course, if you have more than one device that you can keep for charging your batteries, then having two chargers makes for twice the amount of charging at each opportunity you get. Those short stops now get twice the effectiveness. Again, you can get a second charger for pretty cheap in the PC store. You might also be interested in grabbing a Solar Powered Charger by Solio if you are into that kind of thing. But for immediate money savers, just grab a simple charging cable with wall adapter.

As for traveling apps

While you're travelling, you'll want to have these apps set and ready to go to make the most out of your trip. These are some of the ones that I've downloaded, and there are other alternative choices you might make as well. Just be sure that you download all of them before you start your trip, otherwise you'll be killing your battery needlessly by waiting until later.

  • Cabbie: You never know when you're going to need a Taxi in a strange city, even if you do have your own transportation already available. Cabbie is a great app to keep on hand when you need to get somewhere and don't have a car to drive nearby. Cabbie is $0.99 and developed by David Strack.
  • FlightPredictor:  If you're flying somewhere (or are waiting for someone else who's in the air, grab Flight Predictor so that you can keep up with delays and cancellations. Saves a lot of troubles later on. FlightPredictor is $2.99 in the catalog, and developed by Greg Stoll.
  • Foursquare: If you're already a fan of zhephree's work with Foursquare, than you know why having this fun little app is important for travelling. Keep track of places you've been in a region, see what events might be going on nearby, and check in on your friends who you might be visiting. This app is free in the catalog and built by Geoff Gauchet.
  • TripThat: A fairly new app by Syntactix, TripThat allows you to forward your trip itenerary to the tracking service, TripIt, and at any moment lets you see what is happening next on your trip. This works great for me as I watch what the next stop is going to be on my bus trip, and can even add meetings and such to the agenda so that I don't miss a thing. TripThat is $4.99, and comes from the guys at Syntactix.
  • White Noise: When travelling long distances at one time, falling to sleep is probably the best thing that you'll want to do, but it can sometimes be difficult with so much noice and bustle from the people around you going on. White Noise makes it easy to kill off the noise and get you sleeping soundly, if only until your next stop comes around. White Noise is $2.99 by TMSOFT, and is well worth the cost.
  • Weather Window: It might not be the most full-featured weather app available (there are a ton of other options), but I like this one because it sits in your dashboard with a nice little way of telling you what the whether is like at any given moment. Good for any day, but especially good when travelling. Weather Window is $1.49 by Hidden World Hut.
  • Molo Photo Filers: Everyone loves to take pictures while they're traveling, and MOLO Photo Filters makes it a lot more fun. With a similar purpose as Instagram, MPF allows you to make quick, fun edits to your photos to give them that 'epic' look before sharing on your favorite Social Networking site. MOLO Photo Filters is $1.99 and is built by Chinchilla Tech.
  • And of course, we would be remiss if we didn't mention the many various guides out there for each city that you might be visiting. Just do a search for the city you're going to in the app catalog, and you'll be sure to find something about those places (tourist tips, public transportation routes, emergency info, etc...)

Other tips for travelers

On a non-webOS-related note, there are some other tips to keep in mind while travelling. Don't think of this as an extensive list, but they are things you may want to keep in mind. If you want to find a more comprehensive list, check out this website that I recently found.

  • Don't drink caffeinated drinks before or during your travels - you want to be comfortable, not antsy.
  • Wear layers if you are unsure what the weather will be like any particular day. It's easier to shed layers than go through your bags and put some on. This is especially true on Trains, Planes and busses, where your bags may be packed away in an inaccessible location.
  • For your snacks, stay away from candy bars and chips. Rather go with foods with peanuts (they make you feel more full and don't give you much energy), maybe grab some beef jerky for the flavor (and cause it takes a long time to eat), and drink fruit juices (I like V8 Splash - mixes fruits and veggies) or water to stay hydrated. This will keep you happy, healthy and comfortable.
  • Whenever you get a chance to, get up and stretch or walk around. Unless you're sleeping, don't stay in just one spot (sitting) for a very long time. Otherwise you'll be pretty sore once the trip is over.
  • If you would rather not be taken advantage of by thieving locals, try not to look like a tourist. Put the fanny-pack away and wear clothes similar to those around you. Don't just ask any stranger for directions; talk to police or other municipal officials. The less you stick out in this way, the better. 

What other tips would you have for people who are looking at traveling this season? Did I miss any important tips that someone should know about before leaving on a big trip?