The question I ask most frequently, and the one that has had the most impact on my life is "but, will it work internationally?" Every time a new piece of tech is released or a super awesome website debuts my judgment of it is totally beholden to its portability and usefulness on a global scale. This is part practicality and part a total, all-consuming personality flaw.
No matter how awesome something is I find it impossible to get behind it if I have even the slightest feeling that I would have to leave it at home on my next adventure. Why get used to something or even fall in love with it if you're just going to have to abandon it, right...right? (ok, that might be a bit of the personality flaw peaking through but you at least sort of understand what I mean).
To drive home this point a little further, here's a list of some of the things I've had to give up in the name of international adventuring: friend dates, Hulu, Netflix, my best coat, facebook, easy access to my reading collection, my cell phone, my favorite breakfast, my significant other, my favorite newspaper...I could go on but I'm getting a bit depressed and I think you get the point.
As technology (and my hacking skills) improve and global awareness grows I've slowly been able to keep hold of more and more of my favorite things as I travel, but that doesn't keep me from being cautious as I choose what to integrate into my daily routine.
Before my last major trip abroad I decided to invest in an iPod touch and it made all of the difference in the world. There were countless apps for reading the news and books and when I was in an area with wifi I was able to use the Skype app as a phone (for a slight fee of course). I was also able to receive text messages at my own U.S. phone number (!!!) absolutely free, thanks to a handy app called text free.
These text messages became my direct line into the life I left behind. No more paying crazy fees on my local mobile phone every time my parents thought of a new emergency to contact me about, no more having to wait 3 weeks for full details of the awesome date my friend hinted about in her facebook status. Yes, this iPod touch and the amazing app developers had absolutely changed the way I traveled.
I soon began recommending iPods to everyone I knew going abroad and guaranteed mine was my most useful investment next to my circle scarf. I maintained that position until yesterday when I learned about Mac's new operating system iOS 5 and the amazing iMessage.
If you've been reading the news at all you've heard all about the new iPhone 4.S and its mobile assistant Siri. Having a little phone monkey to do your bidding is all well and good but Siri's capability to understand what I'm asking of it (her?) is not nearly as impressive to me as being able to send messages across platforms for free. Did you hear me, for FREE. That means that if you have a device running iOS 5 (a computer, an iPod, or an iPhone) you'll be able to send messages to ANYONE also using a device running iOS 5.
I'm going to let that sink in for a moment.
This means that your friend in Philadelphia can send you a text from his phone (to your normal number, no special apps required) and it will pop up on your iPod in real time. This means that you can "text" back and forth with your brother while you're sitting in class on a laptop and he's staring at his phone on the metro. In case you aren't seeing it, this is a game changer people.
I've been an Apple devotee for years because I've been able to drag their products around the world with minimal problems but thanks to iMessage and the handy fact that all iPhones will now be world phones, I think I just added one more item to the short list of things I won't leave home without.
Click here for more information on iOS 5 and iMessage and keep your eyes peeled for my review of my very first iPhone!