Friday, May 19, 2017

Friday Favorites: My Phone

Well, this seems to be a thing that blog people do on Fridays, so I thought I'd join in, partly because I like lists, and partly because I think it will be interesting to see how my answers change in the years to come. 

This week, I'll write about some apps I really love right now and use all the time. They're not really that exciting, so skip this post if you're looking for something riveting! 

First up, White Noise Free. When we were first married and lived in Washington, we didn't have air conditioning, so we bought a cheap and ugly box fan that has somehow made it through the years and now lives in our storage unit in Tallahassee (if we'd known then that it would last 7 years, I would have gone for a prettier one). Anyway, now I have a hard time sleeping without the noise of the fan, but sometimes it's freezing cold, or I'm not traveling with the fan, so I downloaded an app to substitute for it and drown out the birds that chirp all night long here (WHY? Probably to avenge their American brothers, ceremoniously evicted from the hole outside our window by yours truly). I use it in hotels when it's too quiet to sleep, or on nights where Carson's snoring. In short, this is a very helpful app and I get more sleep because of it! I think I just searched "white noise app" and downloaded the first one that came up. It has several different sound settings and I use the fan or airplane ones... I don't think I'd sleep well to "rushing waterfall" or whatever.

Google Photos - Chances are that if you've spent time with me in the last year, I've sung the praises of this marvelous service. There are loads of clouds for storing photos, but I love this one. Instead of plugging my iPhone into my (non-apple) computer, I can just open the app and upload all my pictures and videos into the cloud. Once they're backed up, I can delete the files from my phone to clear up space, but I still have access to them. I can create movies on the app, edit my pictures from its interface, and share albums. I can also download the files I've uploaded and still back them up on my external hard drive when desired. 

Notes App - Does everyone else use the notes app on their phone religiously, or is it just me? This is definitely, definitely one of my favorite apps of all time. I currently have 44 notes, one with a list of things I want to bring from Germany to the US, one with a list of gift ideas as they come to me, things we need, things we want, entire blog posts I've hammered out on the little phone keyboard while sitting on a train, grocery lists, meal ideas, a list of cultural observations, and my personal favorite - a list of ideas for two truths and a lie, with nothing that spectacular, but I'm not very good on the spot.

IMDB - I am that person who reads the spoilers. I have read the ending of a book more than once, and I feel comforted knowing what will happen if I'm reading or watching something with a lot of plot twists. I also like knowing whose voice that is in an animated movie, and just how many episodes of a show my least favorite character is in (if I know they don't make it the whole series, I rest easier). I'm also that annoying person who loves behind the scenes stuff, so I read the goofs and the trivia for each thing and spout the facts out as we watch. If we're trying to decide if we'd like a movie, I read the Parent's Guide for language and rating stuff, and I can watch the trailers too. Mostly I use this for the spoilers though.

Amazon - I LOVE Amazon. It exists in Germany, but I don't have German Amazon Prime, so I haven't used it much. Back in the States though? I price check things in Target by checking on Amazon. I do most of my birthday and Christmas shopping on Amazon, and I LOVE that you can make secret wish lists because I have a bunch and one of them is full of gift ideas for the people in my life, which I reference often and update whenever I read a blog post with gift ideas. 

Feedly - I used to use Google Reader, until they got rid of it a few years ago. Now I have all my blog subscriptions through this app, and I can scroll through and catch up without going to the individual blog posts, and I can also star the posts and save categories of things (like posts of gift idea lists). 

Apps I rely on overseas: - This is a translation app, and I love it. It's not perfect and it mostly gives synonyms and not definitions, but it's helpful and I can use it without data when I'm traveling. When I go to different countries, I download that language pack and use it to get around, and so far, so good (Spain was hard because the translation wasn't in Catalan).

Google Maps - I use this one back home anyway, but I especially rely on it over here. I can star places I want to visit, download the offline areas of cities we're in, and navigate even on airplane mode. Thank you, Google!

DB Navigator - Deutsche Bahn is the big train company over here, and I use their app to figure out train schedules, book upcoming trips, and store my tickets. Very helpful.

FlixBus - Sort of the same thing as DB Navigator, but for FlixBus. I downloaded this because our payment information wasn't working on their website and finally did work here, but I can also check schedules and book cheap bus tickets, and store my booked tickets here to scan. 

Other things about my phone:
I sort the apps on my phone by color. I like to be able to see all the apps on my phone at once, so I've always sorted them into folders. I used to do it by category, but I felt like some of my apps didn't work well in the same category, and I like it a lot better now that it's color coordinated. 
Here's my phone right now. The background is a google image of a Rifle Paper Company Notebook. I liked the background but didn't see it available online, so I screenshotted it when I first got my phone and never changed it. I do own those notebooks too, thanks to my sweet friend Jillian.

I don't know if I've talked about what we're doing for phones here, but we still use our American iPhones (unlocked). We ported our US numbers to Google Voice back in August, so if you call the numbers we used to have in the states, we will get the memo that you called, just by way of email instead of phone or text. Carson accidentally ported his number to my email and mine to his, so I get an email with his Jersey Mike's Subs coupon texts every Monday, and all his FSU Campus Alert texts. We use Google Hangouts to call the States, and we can either use it to do a video chat from our computer or phone, or we can call a phone number and our numbers pop up like a real phone number when we call. 

We use Vodafone over here, and I think the reason we chose that network is because we were told it's the highest quality and works in most of the EU. It's more expensive than other networks like O2 or AldiTalk (we pay 15 a month soooo still not that expensive) and we do pay as you go and get a crappy amount of data that we don't really use, and a phone number and SIM card over here. I know people who have moved overseas and not gotten phones, but I'm glad we have the ability to use data and calling, just to track each other down if we're going to meet up!

While I've got you talking about phone stuff, I'll tell you about the charging cords I bought and love. I bought THESE on Amazon and had Carson's mom bring them over when she came in January. They are woven and came in a pack of three and I really like them. The color is nice, but I don't care about that. I like that they're woven and therefore sturdier than my sad iPhone cords were, that they're longer (it says five feet), and that they work! I went for the cheapest cords with the highest reviews and at the time, these were the winners!

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