Most articles on pocketnow.com offer news, tips, and rumors about our favorite handheld and pocketable gadgets. This article is a little different. In this article I’ll walk you through using an Android-powered T-Mobile G1, 3G, Google, and some very handy apps to get through what should have been a traditional night out with my wife.
As you’ll discover, what started as a typical date-night turned atypical quickly and the G1 came in particularly handy!
Last Friday, my wife and I finally got some time away from the kiddos. We opted for the traditional “dinner and a movie”.
I pulled out my trusty Android-powered G1, fired up Sherpa, and tapped on the “Dining” tab to see what kind of restaurants were in the area. Having never tried Indian food before we opted to try one of the two results. I tapped on the “Route” icon which fired up Google Maps which provided distance, driving time, and directions from our current location. I tapped on the Navigate button to bring up Google Maps Navigation’s turn-by-turn GPS directions.
Moments later we were seated and had ordered our food. I launched the Fandango app, and discussed movie options with my wife. We watched a few trailers right on the phone to help nail down our choice, then purchased our tickets, right there in the app.
Dinner was wonderful. The food was fabulous. The owner was friendly. We had to cut-short dessert so we could make our movie on time.
When we got to the movie we gave our Fandango confirmation number to the clerk, picked up our tickets, and were seated two minutes before the show started. (Just enough time to set the G1 to vibrate mode by holding the “down-volume” button.)
A couple hours later we headed back to the car. I opened the door for my wife, then headed around to the driver’s side. My door wouldn’t open. I pulled out my G1, turned it on, and used the backlight as a flashlight to find out why my door wouldn’t open.
Apparently, while we were in the theater, someone had hit my car, denting the front fender and the door. What’s more, they didn’t stick around.
I did a quick sweep of the area to see if I could identify the culprit or any possible witness, but found none. After updating my wife she called the baby-sitter to let her know we’d be late. I grabbed my “insurance & registration packet” from the glove-box and pulled out my G1 again to call the police and get the report started.
Who to call? It wasn’t an emergency, so 911 wouldn’t have been appropriate. I tapped the microphone icon and said “police” into my Google Search Widget on my desktop, then tapped “local” on the resulting web page. Since Android’s web browser has Google Gears (and GPS location detection) built-in, it knew the city I was in and tailored my search results accordingly. (I added this link to my bookmarks for future reference, and it should work no matter where I am in the world, thanks to Google Local Search!)
I tapped on the phone number of the local police department and was connected through Google Voice. Moments later, my information relayed, I was told an officer would be en route.
Back on the the G1′s home screen I tapped the Google Search Widget’s mic icon again, this time I spoke the name of my insurance provider. A moment later one of my contacts as well as some Google web search results were displayed. I tapped on the contact and was connected via Google Voice. Several minutes later the claim had been submitted for follow-up the next business day.
Having completed all the necessary steps I started the “non-necessary” stuff. I tried to take some pictures using the G1′s camera, but was thwarted by the darkness (how I longed for the Nexus One with it’s super-bright flash). My efforts turned to identifying the culprit. I opened TweetCaster and immediately fed the details of the hit-and-run to my friends and followers, asking for any information. I opened Evernote and began typing notes of the incident while they were fresh in my mind. A few “suspicious” vehicles drove by; each time I popped open an Evernote Audio Note and recorded the vehicle description, plate number, driver description, direction of travel, and why I thought they were suspicious.
Within the hour local police had responded, taken the report, taken photos of “the crime scene” and wrapped up all the loose ends. I used Evernote to take pictures of the report for backup purposes.
Later I made a “hit-and-run” folder in my desktop copy of Evernote and have compiled all my notes, photos, and voice notes from my G1, and input telephone logs with insurance agents that have transpired since. It’s amazing to have all this organized in one spot, index, searchable, and organized.
A Sunday Surprise
I’m a subscriber to Dave Ramsey‘s theory of getting out of debt and holding a liquid emergency fund, so although this incident was going to be an inconvenience for me, it wasn’t a terribly huge deal.
No one was hurt, my car was still drivable, I got to use my G1 in new and unique ways, and I got a cool idea a pocketnow article (which you’re now reading).
Then something astounding happened: I got a call from the police department. A man had come in reporting that he had “bumped” a light-colored car in the same parking lot, the same night, at the same time, and although there was no damage to his vehicle he thought he ought to follow-up to see if anyone had reported being hit. He turned himself in. Wow. That almost never happens!
Within 20 minutes I was the next town over, exchanging information with the other driver, and thanking him for coming forward. He was very apologetic, but he was credited with being at fault.
We shook hands and parted amicably.
The Phone Calls
Monday was the first business day after the incident, which meant my insurance company would be calling me, I would be calling his insurance company, and the police would likely be calling back to make sure the insurance exchange went well (and to make sure his insurance coverage was valid).
Luckily I had given everyone my Google Voice number, so each phone call was routed the the right place (home, work, cellular, VoIP).
Could I have done all this with a Windows Mobile phone or an iPhone? Sure. For the most part the apps that I used and the added functionality are available across the various platforms. The fact that the whole incident was made easier through the presence and use of a smart phone is what I intended to get across.
What about you? Do you have a story about a real-world event that was made easier due to the presence of a smart phone? If so I’d love to hear about it!