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Gadgets & Home Improvement

How to avoid huge holiday data bills

How to switch your data connection off and save money on data usage
The Straits Times - June 8, 2011
By: Tan Teng Heng
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How to avoid huge holiday data bills

The June school holiday has started. Many of you may be going overseas, so make sure you know how to fully utilise your mobile gadgets while avoiding huge data bills.

Before you set off, get your smartphones or tablets fully charged. You will also need to download e-book and news readers and Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation apps. In my family, we use three smartphones: HTC HD7, iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy S.

Here are tips on how you can use data devices on the road without burning a hole in your wallet.

  • Ensure your apps work offline

    Check if all the news feeds and articles you downloaded can be read on your devices when there is no Internet connection.

    Digital news feeds you can read offline are: BBC News, available on Android, iOS and Windows Phone 7; Pulse News, available on Android and iOS; and Weave, available on Windows Phone 7.

  • Manage your data connections

    Turn off your devices' data connections so that you will not accidentally connect to the Internet while overseas and incur a whopping charge.

    The settings on my family's three smartphones vary slightly but, generally, you would need you to go to the Settings menu, look for Cellular or Mobile Networks selection anduse the option to disable the phone's data connection (or cellular data) and 3G Connection.

    To check if you have data turned off, launch any website. If you see an error message, you have successfully switched off its data connection. If the website launches, it means that you have not successfully turned off the data connection. Try again.

    Another way to disable your data connection is to turn on your smartphone's Airplane mode, which turns off all wireless connections.

  • Get an offline navigation tool

    Some GPS navigation apps work without data connections.

    Using Maverick (Android), MotionX GPS Lite (iOS) or JaefreyGPS Pro (Windows Phone 7), you can record a waypoint as well as a photograph. Maverick and Trip Journal are free to download.

    Using them, you can call up your waypoints and tracks without a data connection. When you call up a waypoint, you will see the coordinates of the location and the photograph. If you call up the track, you will see the track line on top of the map.

    JaefreyGPS Pro lets you call up a waypoint and track without a data connection but you will see only the track line and not the map.

    Once you have Internet access, you can launch the app and display the waypoint you saved earlier on Google Maps or Bing Maps.

    Mr Tan Teng Heng is an IT professional and a DL Facebook fan

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