By Señior Tech on the Winter 2022/2023 Edition
Have you ever wondered if you could do more with your smartphone? If you are retired, there is a very good chance that applications you needed in your profession are no longer applicable for your current lifestyle. Telephones used to be used solely for communicating. Now they are computers that you always carry. A smartphone can be used as a camera, video camera, GPS, music player, game console, information gathering device, as well as a communication device.
In this article I will be discussing applications that I have found to be useful as a full-time resident of Manzanillo. Education, safety, security, and entertainment applications are the topics I will focus on in this article and are available on both major platforms, iOS and Android.
For safety, I recommend apps that monitor potential major disasters: hurricanes, earthquakes, volcano eruptions and tsunamis. If you live here year-round, these or similar apps should be installed on your smartphone. There are many others in the app stores, but these are the apps that I prefer.
- Two apps, Windy and Weather Live, display the local weather as well as provide real-time detailed hurricane forecasts. The information is displayed on maps of the region and indicate the direction of the tropical storms or hurricane. The apps are free, but I have purchased the
Windy Premium for $25.49 annually. The premium version has everything you need to become an amateur meteorologist.
- For earthquakes I have purchased the PRO version of Earthquake for a $5.49 one time fee, two years ago. This app will alert the user to earthquakes near and far. The free version works but does not allow the user to set filters. I set local filters to alert me of critical quakes within 100 Kms at intensity 4.0, Mexico is set at intensity 5.0, and worldwide any quake over 6 . 0 intensity . the app also provides tsunami warnings, which I think is important if you live near the ocean. All quakes worldwide are displayed as a table or graphically on a map. Additional data can be viewed by clicking on the highlighted quake. Earthquake data is usually displayed 10-15 minutes after the event. In the case of the 7.6 earthquake in Michoacán on September 19, 2022, we felt it before the
- confirmation arrived.
- Volcanoes can also be monitored. Manzanillo is located 87 Kms away from the Colima volcano that has a status of potentially active. I use an app called quite coincidentally Volcanoes. I purchased the PRO version many years ago. The Pro version provides ash alerts. As with the weather and earthquake apps volcano eruptions are graphically displayed on world maps.
We have been living full time in Manzanillo for six years, so it is important for us to learn Spanish. Although it is possible to get by only speaking English, we feel it is better to speak the local language. There are numerous language apps that are available, the one my wife and I use is Duolingo. She has a 1510 day streak, while I am lagging behind at 689 days.
I have tried a few other programs, but this is one that I have stuck with. We also pay for this app. The cost is $149.00 annually but can be shared with up to 5 other people, essentially $25.00 per person. The user gradually learns new words and phrases as the lessons progress. There are speaking and listening exercises that help with understanding and pronunciation.
The free version has all the same features as the paid version except the user is limited by mistakes they make. Every day, there are several hearts allotted. Once these are depleted, the program stops for the day; the user can earn additional hearts or wait until the next day to continue.
Learning another language is also a good way to keep our mental acuity as we age. The free version is a good way to determine if you want to continue with Duolingo; if it is not for you, check the Apple App Store or Google Store for other alternatives.
For entertainment there are millions of games for various interests. My wife likes Words with Friends which she plays with several of her friends. She sometimes has over 20 games in play. I like simulation games and poker. I am not sure how many hours I have invested over the years, but hey, I am re-tired! There are millions of gaming apps on either the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Do a search for the type of game you desire and read the reviews. Most games are ad-supported which are free or pay to play without the distractions.
Social media sites like Facebook and Instagram can also pro-vide an entertainment outlet. My suggestion for these sites is to lock down your security to only your friends. The only people that will see your posts will be your friends. It will be very hard for bad guys to hack into your account. The downside is that your posts cannot be shared to anyone except your friends. But if you are not trying to go viral with your posts, this is a small price to pay. If you are on Facebook and a site asks you to login, leave; this is one way your credentials are stolen, and your account can be hijacked. This is not 100% foolproof, if one of your friends has been hacked, the bad guy can collect all your friends’ names and try to spoof you. The way to avoid hackers is not to friend someone who is already friended by you.
A good site for entertainment and education is YouTube.com. Search for any topic and there is sure to be a how-to video available. There are also millions of music and documentaries for free viewing and listening. YouTube has an ad-free version for a fee, but if you don’t mind the occasional interruption, the free version is okay.
If you have purchased a current model car or truck, there is a good chance the vehicle comes equipped with a monitor that will connect to either Apple Carplay or Android Auto. Once you have connected to your smartphone, you can wirelessly listen to music, get navigation instructions, and talk hands free (although I don’t recommend talking while you drive).
Toll-free calling to Canada and the USA from Mexico
Calling American or Canadian toll-free lines require special numbers. As with regular long-distance calls from Mexico, you must dial 001 before the 10-digit phone number. For toll-free:
• 800 numbers – replace 800 with 001880
• 866 numbers — replace 866 with 001883
• 877 numbers — replace 877 with 001882
• 888 numbers — replace 888 with 001881
You should also check the company you wish to call; some companies now have social media chats available such as WhatsApp and Messenger, or chat on their websites.
Internet Service Providers
There are five major Internet providers currently operating in Manzanillo.
Telcel Internet at Home – currently has a maximum of 10 Megabytes download speed and 100 Gigabytes per month us-age for $399 pesos per month.
Wizz (formerly known as Telecable) also has 10-megabyte service for $399 pesos a month, no cap on usage.
TotalPlay offers Fibre at high speeds, but you must be in their service area. Plans start at $550 pesos per month for 100-megabyte service.
Starlink offers satellite service in the Manzanillo area. Download speeds are between 100 – 250 Megabytes. You will have to purchase their satelite kit for 8300 pesos and monthly fees currently are $1,100 pesos monthly. But if you are in a remote area, this is a good option. Self-setup takes less than 30 minutes to have high speed internet.
Telmex advertises 50 Megabit download speeds, but actually deliver 10 Megabits, I have three years of speed tests and many hours of tech support calls to prove it. If Telmex fibre is not available in your area, choose another provider. Over the past few weeks, I have visited 4 friends and did speed tests of their service and coincidentally found they were getting the same results (less than 15 Megabytes download speeds). When I talked with the Telmex representative, he told me 10 Mega-bytes download speed is fine and I shouldn’t complain. So, I cancelled my plan after five years.
All the apps and services I have discussed are ones I use and like. Search the app stores and you may find one that is more suited to your liking.
Señior Tech is a technology addict that loves to share tips. He lives in Manzanillo full time and helps keep the community up on the latest tech tricks and toys.