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Life in Airplane Mode

The Simplicity of Voluntary Isolation

Take The “Airplane Mode” Challenge

“It’s not practical to live in the modern world without a smart phone.”

This statement may seem bold for those thinking this project is about the rejection of the devices of modern technology.  The reality of today is that our phones are the exclusive means for each of us to catalog and organize our lives – from photos and contacts to maps and messages.

Now, more than ever, our phones serve as the gateway to the outside world, which often prevents us from seeing the world in front of us. Turning a phone on silent or vibrate no longer keeps our compulsion to check for alerts at bay. Nearly every app and phone function is designed to disrupt and disengage us from our rare moments of calm, reflection, and peace.

Fortunately, each of our phones has a built in feature that affords us the opportunity to leave the house without having to leave our phones behind. Airplane Mode.

Take the Airplane Mode Challenge:

Finding Moments of Productivity By Using Your Phone in Airplane Mode

For most of us, technology doesn’t have the wonder it once had, but our reliance on our phones over the years has replaced the once easy access we had to the traditional analog tools we depended on. What most people forget is that the most used apps on our phones work just fine without internet access.

Driving Challenge
Put your phone in Airplane Mode every time you get in your car to drive.  You can still find your way and it may just save your life.

Turn your phone to airplane mode the next time you go out for a walk, hike, dinner, or other social activity with friends. Here are a few useful tools on your phone you can still use in airplane mode:

1. Camera

The latest generation of iPhones include a 12-megapixel multi-lens camera that not only takes incredible photos, but records pretty amazing 4K video.  Just a few years ago, this package would have cost you thousands of dollars alone (and been pretty hefty to carry around). Never miss a photo-worthy moment with your family or friends, but do so without annoying alerts and unnecessary access to digital distractions.

2. GPS Maps

Most people don’t realize that Google Maps works just fine in airplane mode (provided the map was previously downloaded). This is great for finding your way around town, or simply exploring a new area without getting lost.  A paper map would be more fun, but finding them can sometimes be an impossible task.

3. Voice Memo Recorder

Long ago, when I would stay up late enough to see live music shows, my friends and I would sneak  audio devices in to get recordings of the concerts. We got busted several times due to the large size and bulkiness of the recorders, which was part of the excitement. While we’re not advocating for starting your own bootlegging operation, using the audio recording function of your phone can be used for personal notes, recording interviews and calls, or simply capturing something to share or enjoy at a later point. Make sure you let people know you’re recording – unless you’re an undercover cop or

4. Notes

If you don’t have a pen and paper (which I never do), the notes function on your phone is perfect to put those random thoughts somewhere.  It can even be stuff that you need to google later (we don’t judge). No more lost post-it notes, scraps of paper, and forgotten thoughts.

5. Music + Videos + Audio Books

Streaming services have slowly removed the need and ability to have localized digital music.  The good news is that several of these apps now have “offline mode” which allows you to listen to music no matter where you go, or if you’re at 30,000 feet.  Last time I took a long international flight I learned that Pandora has an a “thumbprint radio” option which is a playlist of all the songs I hit thumbs up on.  Turned out to be the best playlist I’ve ever had.  Netflix even has the ability to download a few movies for that longer road trip or night under the stars in a tent.

6. Regular Books

Ok, technically you could read a book on a phone.  I mean, if you reeealllly wanted to.  But … let’s be honest, nothing can replace the experience of reading a real book, cracking a spine, turning pages, and folding over the corners to mark our progress.  In the instance where you can’t pack a book, or you finished the one you brought with on a long flight, having an ebook collection can save you from rambling conversations with your seatmates.

7. Calendar

Afraid of missing something important?  Making plans for a trip and need to know if you may miss a haircut?  Your offline phone calendar will give you access to everything previously synced, so there’s really no stress for going offline for a few hours, a day, or a long weekend.

8. Clock/Alarms

Many people tell us they keep their phones on their nightstand because they no longer have an alarm clock. Having your phone within arms reach of the world will eventually wake you up, keep you awake, or create unnecessary anxiety. If you need to be somewhere, your phone in airplane mode will work just fine.

There you have it.  Simple ways to use your smartphone in airplane mode.

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