By Dan Moren
January 31, 2016 11:45 AM PT
What I Use: Hawaii edition
When in Hawaii, do as the Hawaiians do.
In my case, during my ten-day vacation in the Hawaiian Islands earlier this month, that meant stepping away from technology a bit. But in this day and age, you can’t escape it entirely. While I ended up leaving my MacBook Air at home, I still had plenty of gadgets: I brought along my iPhone 6s, my Apple Watch, my iPad Air 2, and a Bluetooth keyboard, just in case the writing mood struck me.
In the end, it was the iPhone 6s that got the biggest workout, unsurprisingly. From taking many pictures and videos (which prompted me to make a return to Instagram after a long absence), to using Maps to get from place to place in our rental car, to relying heavily on Yelp for being able to find great places to eat, the iPhone was indispensable. (And of course, Dark Sky, for being to avoid oncoming tropical downpours.)
Surprisingly not so useful was the iPad, which ended up mostly serving as a watching device during the long flights to and from the islands. My go-to apps on the tablet ended up being GoodReader, in which I stored some videos I’d ripped from my DVD collection, and Transmit, which I used before our return voyage to load up some additional TV shows downloaded from my server at home. The Bluetooth keyboard I used not at all on the entire trip—but better to have it and not need it than need it not have it, I suppose.
The major technological challenge was making sure the iPhone had enough power to last for the day. My 6s really chews through its battery—my girlfriend’s iPhone 6 fared slightly better—but having a cable for charging in the car was key, as was my Belkin travel power strip and its two USB ports. A portable battery pack (the same Limefuel model I took to Portugal last year) proved likewise crucial.
But the biggest help was actually iOS 9’s Low Power Mode, which I gave a workout for the first time. Enabling it via Settings > Battery when I dropped down to single-digit battery life towards the end of the day prolonged my iPhone’s life just enough to ensure that I never actually ran the phone down to empty on the entire trip. Color me impressed.
And while my feelings about the Apple Watch haven’t changed much in the last year, I did find its activity tracking to be a great way to record exactly what we did every day. A few multi-mile hikes is a great way to not only double your activity goals, but also an easy way to rack up those 10,000 steps per day.
I suppose I wasn’t as disconnected from technology as I might have liked—you never are these days, with the Internet at your fingertips; the trick is ensuring that it enhances your experience of the world instead of distracting you from it.
[Any favorite apps when you’re traveling or on vacation? Let us know!]
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The latest novel in his Galactic Cold War series of sci-fi space adventures, The Nova Incident, is available now.]