A quest to tame technology-driven interruptions and distractions in my daily life.

Lost Offline

This post goes out to Caroline Giegerich over at Daily Marauder, who like many of us is trying to live her life while sticking to her sense of propriety about values, autonomy, tech, and human decency.

We were recently commiserating about the professional and personal challenges of limiting one’s gadget usage, and the ability to access maps on the go was a shared complaint. While not looking at social media, internet searches, etc. are easy enough to do without, weaning oneself off of GPS is a bitch.

That said, this weekend in Dallas, I remembered a trick that I thought worth sharing. Without getting into the technical mumbo jumbo behind it, which would require me to Google the answer anyhow, the GPS location services on our phones use a combination of the (normally) always-on data plans and the wireless signals – the latter which uses triangulation of nearby cell towers.

In any case, as it turns out, the built-in Maps program (and perhaps others… I haven’t checked) work well enough with no data plan. Your mileage may vary, but here’s how it works for me:

The key is that you can’t interrupt the Maps app when you are en route. Under Settings, set the Auto-Lock to 5 minutes. Then make sure you touch your screen every few minutes so it doesn’t lock. Start your trip when you have an available wireless signal. If you are lost, find a library or coffee shop or someplace with free wi-fi and then open the app. Search for what you are looking for and then tap on Directions.

Now, just leave the app open and you can even zoom in to see roads you need to reference or turn on. Works like a charm provided you don’t try to search for a new spot or take a call or something.

Happy navigating!

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