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A Day in the Life of a Smartphone

Why you really don't want to leave home without one

Since my friend is railroad buff, we checked the Android to see if the Skunk Railroad between Fort Bragg and Willets was still operating.

iPhone screenshot of Trapster, an app that shows upcoming road stops and speed traps

The Trapster app uses crowd sourcing to share the location of speed traps. — Photo by Gary M. Kaye

Good news: It still runs. Bad news: We'd get to Fort Bragg too late to see the last run for the day. 

After Fort Bragg, we consulted the map on the Android to figure out how far we might travel before sunset. We set our sights on Bodega Bay, the setting for Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. Once again we went to to find a place to bed down. 

Next morning, it was the last stretch down to San Francisco for an early afternoon flight back to New York.  As we headed through the back roads of Marin County, we once again turned to the iPhone for a convenient Starbucks. After the stop, it was over the Golden Gate Bridge and down Route 101 to the airport.  And it was there that my friend got nailed with a speeding ticket. We probably should have used the "Trapster" app.

Trapster uses crowd sourcing to share the location of speed traps. Maybe next time.

Smartphone surrounded by app icons, showing many of the items used in a day in the life of a smartphone.

There are hundreds of thousands of apps out there. Is a smartphone all you need? — Photo by iStock

Does this mean you need not bother taking a map, lining up reservations or doing any of those traditional trip planning chores? Not really. It does mean that, with a good smartphone and the right apps, you can probably accomplish just about everything while you're on the move. One big caveat, though. The farther you get from a major city, the more likely you'll have some problems getting consistent cellphone or data service.  So you may want to hedge your bets.

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