February 9, 2017

Additional Smartphone for your Family for free? (Well, almost)

I will admit first hand that this blog entry has the click-bait smell written all over it.  I will also acknowledge the free in this case largely relies on the fact that I have a spare/older smartphone laying around.  But I am really onto something here, here we go!

So here is the story, my daughter is getting to an age where a mobile phone may be helpful in some limited cases.  But I really do not want to get a dedicated phone and plan for a 9-year old.  From around the house, where WiFi is available, between the family  iPad,  iPod Touch or laptops, the kids are already familiar with the power of mobile computing.  For school work (Google Docs), for communications (Skype) and for media consumption (Netflix Kids or Youtube).  Whats missing is the ability to stay connected while WiFi is not guaranteed.

If you have been following my postings recently, I have been extremely pleased with how Google’s Project Fi has contributed to my lifestyle.  And I have just found one more.  By requesting an additional data-plan only SIM card (Free $0) and reformatted an old NEXUS 5; with this setup I am able to get 90% of the function of a smartphone for free (only paying for the portion of data usage on a pro-rated basis of $10 per GB).  The phone was reformatted with the latest firmware updates.  I only added the necessary applications for her to use (Hangout, Skype, Google Drive, etc.).  I customized the contact list within Google Hangout so it only has family members on there, essentially functioning as SMS for limited pool for people she can reach.

Keep in mind that I also took this opportunity to provide a lecture on the basics of mobile responsibility, login and passwords.  Also having a discussion about not abusing the data network and stream movies only within the house where we have WiFi (and of course under our permission).

In the end, I am able to provide a smartphone with all the capabilities except for SMS/Phone calls but arguably capable of just about anything anyone needs.  (ie. if she needs to speak with me, she can always do it via Google Hangout or Skype via Data Network).  What is cool is that all of the homework and etc. stored on the cloud via Google Docs can be viewed or edited on this device.  It was the perfect opportunity to explain basic cloud computing.


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