When Tech Gadgets Can’t Connect — Observations and Thoughts From the Offline World

Using a device in airplane mode can be a source of surprises and frustrations. This blog post is about my experience on a 5-hour flight to Mexico.

When Tech Gadgets Can’t Connect — Observations and Thoughts From the Offline World
Using an iPhone while in Airplane mode
Using an iPhone while in Airplane mode

I recently went to Mexico for a vacation, which is a 5-hour flight from home. In this blog post, I want to share some observations while using an iPhone, an iPad, or a MacBook in an offline world, for the flight duration.

  • Getting ready for the flight required thinking ahead of what I will do. Will I watch a movie, or will I prefer to listen to music? What if I want to do some photo editing in Lightroom? In any case, syncing content locally to all my devices is mandatory to prevent any frustration in flight.
  • Lightroom CC provides an easy way to mark an album for local storage. Apple TV application provides a way to download before going offline. The same goes for Apple Music. But for apps like Matter, things get trickier.
  • The first thing that failed me was ATV+ which could not play a downloaded episode of “For All Mankind” that I previously started to watch on another device at home. I couldn’t make it work, regardless of what I tried. Big fail.
  • The read later application, Matter, couldn’t save my readings. There were no visual cues that I was working offline. Speaking of user feedbacks, in general, offline statuses are inconsistent from one application to another. Most of the applications will display something like “Can’t fetch data” instead of “You’re offline, can’t fetch any data for now.” Even within Apple’s News widget offers an inconsistent feedback from “Couldn’t Load Stories” to “Apple News is Offline”.
  • Apple’s Photos is terrible. With iCloud Photos Library syncing, I cannot count on this to be able to edit photos on my MacBook Air while on the plane, even if the option to keep originals local.
  • Timery couldn’t start any time tracking counters because it relies on Toggl, a web service. It was a good occasion to stop tracking my time for the duration of my vacation, which I resumed once back home.
  • I’m not a big gamer, but I wanted to play Cut The Rope, the Arcades+ version. Upon startup, I was granted with an iCloud Error message saying that my game progress might not be saved.
  • The excellent Flighty application mostly works, but flight tracking of my own flight looks to be an estimation rather than an actual tracking.

Overall, the offline world can be a source of frustration, depending on the use cases and applications. Apple Music provides an easy way to look for downloaded music. Lightroom provides an easy way to keep a photo album locally for edit. Other than that, the experience varies quite a lot.