iPhone As Survival Gear
Well, I went and did it. After years of being somewhat of a Luddite when it comes to cell phones (I still have a yearning for a Jitterbug with only the "home" "911" and "Operator" buttons), I went ahead and upgraded my old flip phone for the iPhone4 today. Verizon is ending its unlimited data plan next week, so I had to get in now to be grandfathered.
In addition to replacing my flip phone, I'm also replacing my iPod Touch. I hadn't had that a week when I dropped it and it fell flat on a sidewalk, cracking the screen in several places. Scotch tape has worked wonders holding it together, and hasn't interfered with the functioning at all... but I wanted to protect my new phone, so I got the Griffin Survivor military-grade case for it. The Griffin has a two part "unbreakable" polycarbonate shell and a rubber frame case. The touch screen is still perfectly usable, and the rubber case has flip out openings for the charging port, rear camera, and earphone port. It is supposed to be protective for up to a 6' drop onto concrete, and also protects from water, dust and shock. Plus, it looks pretty cool.
I've started adding some apps to it. So far I've got Survival Guide - based on the military's FM 21-76 manual; Emergency Radio Free; and the iHandy Flashlight.
Survival Guide has 19 chapters, including shelters, water and fire, animals and plants, and survival in different environments. It also has 8 appendices with lists and identifying information for poisonous plants and animals, ropes and knots, and other topics. All-in-all, it seems easily navigable, and some good useful information.
Emergency Radio Free has real-time access to police, fire, rescue, and other emergency radios around the US and in several foreign countries. Not every agency is accessible, but it is easy to scroll by state, then alphabetically by city or county. I'm not much on listening to a scanner for fun, but it would be good to have during an emergency, or even in a heavy traffic situation.
iHandy Flashlight allows the use of the camera flash as a pretty bright flashlight. It can also, with a choice of buttons, display like a glow stick, flash SOS in Morse code, flash as a strobe, plus a number of more useless styles of light. The flashlight is bright enough to check a breaker box, find a pistol in the dark, or get through the woods without tripping on a root. I'm not sure how much of a battery drain it is, but I can't see using it for an extended period of time anyway. I had to move the rubber flap over the camera lens/light aside to use the flashlight, but it was no big deal.
I'm going to do my best to add only useful, survival-oriented apps to the phone. I'm not much of a video game guy. As I find good apps (or ones that aren't so great), especially free ones, I'll let you know. If you have any good suggestions, please pass them on.