Tips: Stretching an iPhone 5 Battery Through a 6 Day Hike in Yosemite National Park

This will be a quick one folks! I just wanted to share how I made a stock iPhone 5 battery stretch 6 days on one full charge while using it only as a camera.

When traveling, I really love using my iPhone as my main point-and-shoot. Does it best my wife’s DSLR? Hell no, not even close. But it does take decent photos if you’ve mastered its quirks and the portability of it is second-to-none.

Upper Cathedral Lake

But what about on hiking trips? Not car-camping mind you, but hiking out in the middle of nowhere, where the nearest power outlet is literally days away?

In those cases you could either bring one of the many portable solar chargers that are now available at any camping/outdoor gear store, or even a hand-crank generator, but that’s just extra weight for me to lug around, not to mention misplace or lose. So when my week-long hike in Yosemite came along, I wanted to see just how far I could stretch a single charge on my iPhone 5, all while using it to snap frequent pics of the stunning beauty out there (and man, there is SO much!).

Now, on a typical day I use my phone to such a degree that I rarely get through a full 24 hour period without plugging it in. I am sure many of you can relate. So how did I accomplish 6 days straight? Let me tell you!

Dim Your Screen Brightness

Brightness Settings

Go under “Settings” and tap “Brightness & Wallpaper”. In that menu, use the slider to bring your brightness down to 50% (or as low as your poor eyes can stand).

Airplane Mode is Your Friend!

Turn off Airplane Mode

Tap “Settings” (if you aren’t still in there) and right up at the top you’ll see a toggle for “Airplane Mode”. Turn this bad boy on and leave it. This turns off your cellular service, WIFI and your Bluetooth connectivity. With this turned on, your phone stops continuously looking for something that, out in the middle nowhere, it will never find. If it was constantly searching? Your battery would be dead in way less than a day. So at the very least, switch Airplane Mode to the “on” position.

Turn Off Location Services

Turn Off Location Services

Tap “Settings” again, go down to “Privacy” and in there you will find “Privacy Services”. Click on that and hit the toggle at the top to turn that off. You will lose the geolocation of the pictures you snap, but the accuracy of that gets dodgy anyways when you are that far off of the grid.

Basically an iPod Touch…

That’s all I turned off! With all these services off, you’ve basically got an iPod Touch, but you can still utilize your camera (which I used continuously from the slider on the lock screen), snap a pic, check it out and lock the phone immediately afterward.

So how did this all work? Quite well! So well in fact that I took well over a hundred shots (a bunch of panoramas too) and, with less than 48 hours until I was back in civilization, I still had 50% battery left! I know! Not bad!

I am sure a lot of folks have tried this combo with varying degrees of success, but sometimes it’s good to read about a use case that actually occurred and worked. If there are any other services I missed let me know!

A Bit on Common Sense

I know it goes without saying but… I when I was hiking, I was with 4 other people who all had charged phones, compasses and maps on them… in other words: don’t take chances. If your phone is the only thing you have as a link to possible rescue, don’t try this out. It’s not worth it.

But, if you are properly prepared, I whole-heartedly recommend leaving your iPhone charger back in the car.

Out there it’s not going to do you any good anyways. ;)

Have fun and be safe!

Software: A Wonderful Passbook Experience…

Taken from Apple's Website at -

A great idea…

When Apple announced Passbook with iOS6 I, like quite a few iOS enthusiasts, was very intrigued.

The idea of going to a concert and, when I got to the venue, having my tickets show up on my lock screen a swipe away from being scannable at the door, was not only an incredible concept, but it was also an amazing convenience!

Then when I saw the companies involved, companies like Ticketmaster and Eventbrite, Fandango, major Airlines, Target and even REI… I suddenly had this wonderful feeling that all of that fishing around in my wallet that I do at the register or at a venue entrance, would finally be done with! It was a nice thought!

So what happened?

Well, I don’t go to too many Ticketmaster-based shows (and my experience so far, a lot of Ticketmaster venues don’t even support scanning tickets on phone screens anyways). I like seeing movies in independently owned theaters. I rarely shop at Target. REI’s implementation is pretty weak (it only displays my member card number), and my main Airline (for better or worse, US Airways), has somewhat of a “if you blink, you’ll miss it” integration of Passbook. So when I do occasionally fly, I completely overlook it.

With the exception of one concert that had tickets setup through Eventbrite (which worked quite well by the way), I had yet to have that quintessential Passbook experience: where several tasks in one outing were completely handled without me having to unlock my phone or print something out on paper.

Not until this last weekend that is. :)

The Situation…

I was getting away for the weekend, for a self-imposed writing retreat in Charlotte. I booked a flat in the downtown area through AirBnB (I’m a HUGE fan of the service) and found the fares for a round trip ticket from Durham on Amtrak to be surprisingly cheap. I knew AirBnB had Passbook integration but I was honestly surprised when I found that Amtrak did too!

Two train tickets, one accommodation reservation and just like that: I finally had my test case!

The game was afoot! :)

All my info in one place!

I added both train tickets and my AirBnB reservation to Passbook a week prior and went on with life until the weekend came for me to leave.

My expectations were fairly basic. I wanted to arrive at the train station in Durham (and Charlotte on the way home), get a notification, swipe the notification on my lock screen, have the conductor scan the displayed ticket, and board the train. Upon arrival to where I was staying, I wanted another notification to pop up when I got close to the address and have all of my reservation info readily accessible, with clickable phone numbers and addresses (postal and electronic).

In fairness, I already knew that the info I needed for where I was staying would be displayed on the AirBnB Passbook card. But what I didn’t know, was if it would show up on the lock screen automatically when I got close to the address.

That all said, how did it work?

Amazingly well! The day of my Amtrak departure, as the time got close, a notification came up telling me the time that my train was supposed to leave. Not only that, it also told me that the train station I was leaving from was nearby (info I already knew, but still)!

Passbook Lockscreen NotificationPassbook Amtrak Ticket to Charlotte!
When the train got to the station and the conductor started asking for tickets, I swiped the notification on my lock screen and there was my ticket, with my name, order number, departure/arrival time and a scannable bar code that worked perfectly with their scanners. I showed the conductor my phone, he scanned my lock screen and I hopped aboard. It was that easy! No questions were asked and many other passengers had the exact same experience.

Next up? My arrival at my accommodations for the weekend.

The place I was staying at was within walking distance from the train station in Charlotte, so I hoofed it. As I got within a half a mile from the address (give or take), I took my iPhone out and, lo and behold, there was the AirBnB reservation notification on my lock screen! When I got to the location, I swiped right on the notification and it instantly gave me my reservation info, including phone numbers to reach the owner and instructions on how to check in and check out. After I settled in, I texted the owner as a courtesy to let him know that I arrived (and on the day I left), but other than that, I never spoke to, or saw him.

Honestly, it couldn’t have worked better! The train ride back to Durham worked just as well as the train ride to Charlotte: without a single hitch.

Such Potential…

The idea behind Passbook is an experience that is totally in Apple’s wheelhouse. They have always thrived on making those mundane, “everyday life” experiences that we simply put up with, easier and better.

With a such a great Passbook experience under my belt, I was instantly left wondering why it had taken me this long to experience it (hard to believe it’s been 8 months since iOS 6 was released into the wild). Though I am sure there are totally rational reasons why so little companies have added Passbook integration to their respective apps, I do think it’s a shame and a total missed opportunity. Because these two companies did, I have even more love for AirBnB’s service and I absolutely look forward to riding Amtrak again. For the first time ever, I went on a trip away from home and didn’t have print a single sheet of paper before I left. I mean, how cool is that?

Until more adoption takes place, I guess we’ll just have to take these great and ultra-convenient moments when we can get them.

If anything, I just wanted to share my experience with you all, so that you know these kinds of textbook “Apple moments” do exist. That they don’t just look cool in the commercials.

What do you think? Have any of you had good experiences with Passbook? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear about them!

Software: iOS “Do Not Disturb” Mode

So, half of the holiday season has come and gone (I hope it all went well for everyone!) and, with the constant barrage of digital ways to stay in touch with everyone, it reminded me of an iOS feature that’s become my favorite in iOS6.

It’s called “Do Not Disturb” and it is wonderful. :)

Full disclosure: I absolutely adore the people in my life. I really do.

But, there are some times when we all need a break from those little popups that beep and blip, begging for our attention.

And sometimes it’s not even people! I also have a few weather apps that send along severe weather notifications that, while interesting, aren’t exactly worth being woken up at 3AM for.

So with all of these helpful notifications, how do we block them out when we don’t want them interupting our lives? Well, luckily with the advent of iOS6, we have the ability baked right into our devices.

Cool! So where do I find it?

DND Settings screenshot

Head into “Settings” and, fourth from the top, you will see “Do Not Disturb”. To turn it on, just toggle the switch from “Off” to “On”. A little crescent moon icon will show up to the left of the clock up at the top of your iOS device screen, signifying that it’s activated!

So, how does this work exactly?

When “Do Not Disturb” is switched on, absolutly no notifications will come through. This includes emails, texts, Twitter updates, Game Center updates, anything in notification center, even phone calls.

This sounds great and all, but what if someone needs to get in touch in an emergency and I forgot to turn it off?

DND Settings screenshot

Really great question! If you go into “Settings” and then “Notifications”, you’ll find another “Do Not Disturb” section (which is really un-Apple-like, but I digress). In here, dwells the secret sauce that makes “Do Not Disturb” (I am just going to refer to it as “DND” for the rest of this post) so great. In this settings menu, you can schedule when you want DND automatically turned on and off! For me, this is great because I hate getting disturbed by my phone while I sleep, so I set it for 10PM and 5AM every day. Once scheduled, the DND mode is enabled everyday during that span of time until you opt to turn it off.

DND Settings screenshot

The emergency phone call dilemma is handled with the “Allow Calls From” option. I personally set it for “Favorites” so the folks I have listed as favorites in my “Phone” app come straight through whenever they call. You can also set this to “Everyone”, “No One” (if you really mean business), or you can even set it for a specific group you have setup in your Contacts app. Again, this only pertains to phone calls, all other notifcations from apps still will not come in when DND is scheduled/enabled.

DND Settings screenshot

The last setting is for “Repeated Calls”. When this is turned on, a person will have the ability get through your DND setup if they call twice in the span of 3 minutes. Personally, I LOVE this setting, as I often tell people if there is ever a true emergency, please call us twice repeatedly if we don’t answer the first time. It’s a small thing, but the fact that Apple threw this option in, is just genius in my humble opinion! This way, if for whatever reason, someone important to you is calling from a phone that isn’t theirs, they’ll get through.

Oh yeah! One thing to remember…

When scheduled/enabled, DND mode blocks ALL ALERTS, including third party alarm clock apps! So if you are using one (unsurprisingly, Apple’s “Clock” app doesn’t get blocked) make sure you schedule DND mode to turn off before your alarm goes off. Otherwise you may be late for work and we can’t have that can we? ;)

So that’s it! Go enjoy some quiet time!

We all love being connected (maybe we love it too much), but sometimes the act of unplugging can be a nuisance. With the new DND option, it’s a lot easier. So, turn on DND and take that mid-day nap you’ve been promising yourself! You totally deserve it!

UPDATED: Jan 1, 2013 – Ever have one of those days when you think you are being watched?  Just two days after this post Apple released this advertisement into the world:

They also, unfortunately, had reports of this (which I actually fell victim to) so watch out for it.  I fixed mine by turning DND on an off.