The Nokia Ecosystem: Travelling made easy and fun!

Having just returned from a two week visit to Australia, I am grateful for the valuable services provided by the Nokia ecosystem. Before leaving South Africa, I loaded the Australia road network onto my Nokia N8 using Nokia OVI Suite (now called Nokia Suite). Using, I created a number of favourite places such as airports, hotels and popular tourist destinations. I also created a number of routes from the hotel I was staying at to business-related meeting venues, selecting toll roads where possible to decrease travel time. I then launched Nokia Maps on my phone and synced the waypoints and routes that I had created online. I could now access these using either Nokia Drive or Nokia Maps. I drove a total of 660 km in Australia, and lever got lost once!

Since Vodacom’s voice and data roaming charges are insane, I SMS’d ROAMON to 123 before departing for Aussie. This disabled voice and data services on my Vodacom SIM card and only allows SMS to be received (free) and sent (R2.75 per message). I then loaded my Vodacom SIM card into my old Nokia N82 and switched the phone on in Australia. The phone automatically selected the Vodafone network and I began receiving SMS notifications of all credit card transactions for accommodation, taxi fares, ATM cash withdrawals and petrol purchased in Australia. Isn’t technology great!

When I landed at the international airport in Aussie, I immediately purchased a Vodafone Flexi Cap recharge voucher for AU$49 (~R400). The 128 Kb SIM card was free and was simply activated by dialing 1555. I cold now make calls totalling AU$350 and had 3 Gb of data to use! For more information, click here. I loaded the Vodafone SIM into my Nokia N8, switched it on and connected it via a USB cable to my laptop running Nokia PC Suite (v7.1.40.1). I then SMS’d my temporary Vodafone cell number to all business contacts in Australia as well as friends/family back home. I then connected to the internet via PC Suite to access e-mail and my favourite social networking sites. With 3 Gb of data usage, I could use Nokia Maps, Google Maps, Google Street View on my laptop to explore the world around me and decide how best to spend each day site seeing.

Before I left South Africa, I also visited Nokia Music Store and purchased R500 credit and purchased R600 worth of new MP3 tracks. I loaded these onto my 16 Gb external microSD card and remembered to pack my Nokia BH-505 bluetooth stereo headset. I listened to alot of music on the trip, especially when waiting in airports or travelling on buses and ferries.

I also purchased a waterproof pouch for my phone so that I could take my N8 everywhere in Australia. This came in real handy when I took an hour’s ride on a 500 HP jet boat out to sea! I was able to capture this amazing experience using the N8’s camera. I took many wonderful photos and HD videos of my trip. Since the N8’s built-in 12 MP camera is so awesome, there is no need to carry a standalone camera. During the festive season, its great knowing I always have a great camera with me at all times. Steve Litchfield echoes my sentiments in his recent article titled: Camera phone? Why not a standalone?.

I scanned my passport to PDF and created password-protected PDFs of other valuable travel documents (itinerary, visa, e-ticket, travel insurance policy etc.), before storing them on my Nokia N8. This proved valuable when I unfortunately sprained my ankle whilst hiking and was able to provide the hospital’s emergency room with the necessary details of the travel insurance policy.

I downloaded and installed LeControl v1.11 from Nokia Store onto my N8 before I left for Australia. This fantastic Homescreen widget allowed me to enable/disable WLAN and GPRS/3G connections with a single button press. This widget prevented other applications from accessing the Internet, thus saving valuable data bundles from being eroded by “free” apps with built-in advertising (especially games!). LeControl also allows you to activate the phone’s Powersave mode and has a built-in traffic counter.

Finally, the world time widget built-into SPB’s Shell 3D user interface proved invaluable in determining the most reasonable time to phone home to catch up with family and friends. Furthermore, SPB Time provided me with a trusty alarm clock and another world time calculator. Best Jotter by Smartphoneware allowed me to record information such as my temporary Vodafone cell number, the PIN code, access codes for gates into hotel complexes, car mileage, expenses etc.

When I returned to South Africa, I SMS’d ROAMOFF to 123 to re-enable voice and data services on my Vodacom SIM card, which was still installed in my Nokia N82. I was invited by friends to a braai to share my experiences. We perused the photos and videos I took in Aussie using Nokia Big Screen and my N8 connected to an LCD TV via an HDMI cable. I played some tranquil background music, whilst we watched a custom slideshow of my best photos, pausing here and there to answer curious questions.

The ecosystem provided by Nokia (Nokia Store, Nokia Maps, Nokia Music, Nokia PC Suite, Nokia OVI Suite etc.) and the simplicity provided in purchasing applications and music is the main reason why I am still a Nokia fan! Coupled with brilliant hardware such as the Nokia N8 smartphone, I will remain loyal to Nokia for the coming year (2012). To conclude, I suggest reading the Tech Bishop’s article titled: A celebration of hardware and why I still choose the N8.

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