We’ve got a friend staying with us for a couple of nights. In my concern to make sure that she got to the station at the right time this morning, my usual routine (such as I have one) was broken, and I left home this morning with my Samsung Galaxy perched on our kitchen worktop.
It wasn’t until I reached for my phone to tap into Hampton Wick station (having long since shifted from Oyster Card then Visa Pay As You Go to Android pay for my travel in London) that I realised my mistake. A fumble for my wallet and the old flexible friend was used to start my journey.
Being without the phone on the journey into town wasn’t particularly strange as I was chatting with Lottie all the way in. She’s a GP. The state of mental health care provision in Suffolk these days is terrifying. That’s a story for another blog.
We went our separate ways at Waterloo, and I headed down into the tube. Not having a phone felt odd now. London tube platforms are mostly WiFi-enabled. I could have got my iPad out and connected, but it was too busy and not important enough to worry about.
I had a bit of coffee bar surfing for the start of the day, so arriving at the Caffe Nero on Tottenham Court Road I was able to connect with the tablet, and spent an hour using Trello. I was then into meetings for the bulk of the day, with WiFi on tap in the offices in which we were working.
Preparing for the trip home, I downloaded a playlist onto the iPad’s Spotify, and then used my Bluetooth headphones for entertainment on the hour long return leg. The phone was waiting for me back at home – 64% power remaining after not being used for the day (a reflection on the steel cage that makes our house an effective Faraday cage).
So what have I learned?
There are only two information services for which I am totally reliant upon my phone: text messages and 2-factor authentication.
Using HulloMail for voicemail gives me email notifications of any missed calls and an MP3 version of any voicemail. I received precisely no calls or texts today. I could set up a IFTTT rule to email any SMSs received, but with little or no mobile signal in the house it’s a moot point if that would be worthwhile (my phone gets SMS via WiFi on my network provider’s custom app when there is no signal, but I don’t think that’s IFTTT-able).
Thankfully 2FA wasn’t required at any point today, but that could have been a sticking point. I have it enabled for every service on which it is available. I did once have a phone die on me on the same day that all of my Google 30-day 2FA tokens expired. That was a long afternoon.
Ultimately, though, the thing that I really rely on my phone for is network access. But today in London the places where you can’t find an alternative to 4G are few and far between (and mostly places like between stations on the tube where at present there is no alternative connection anyway).