July 28, 2008

Cool Keitai Gadgetry

We have blogged previously about the mobile phone (aka keitai) culture here in Japan. (Well, mostly about the phenomenon of cell phone straps and do-dads, but...) Some of the gadgets used in cellphones here are indeed very handy. (In fact, here is an article about how the iPhone might be less than well received in Japan, because it doesn't have many of the standard features of Japanese keitai; as best as we can tell, it got a pretty enthusiastic reception regardless.)

Anyway, here are a couple of our favorite handy features that you just don't get back home...

First, it seems that every cell phone is equipped with an application that can tell you every way to get from point A to point B by subway, train, or bus. With Tokyo's labarythian subway system (and Osaka's smaller but still intricate one), this is an incredibly useful tool. Our friends in Tokyo consulted their cell phones for the optimal route and timing information anytime we wanted to go anywhere. And the other day in Osaka, when one of the train lines unexpectedly shut down, Mike was able to enlist the help of another stranded passenger, who (with the assistance of his handy dandy cell phone) was able to provide an alternate route on other lines.

(Although we don't have this on our cell phones (the system is in Kanji and is unintelligible to us!), we do use this website version of the same service; it is - hands down - the most useful website we have found since moving to Japan. You can use it for travel anywhere in Japan and it tells you all your public transportation options, how long it takes, when and where to switch, etc.)

The other striking cell phone feature on full display on trains is people watching broadcast TV on their phones. Somehow, we just haven't caught up with this in the States. Video iPods, sure. But how cool is it to be able to flip open your screen, slide it around to the 16:9 aspect ratio, and watch a live baseball game?

Finally, the ability to use cell phones as e-wallets or tickets to events is another neat feature. For example, when you get an airline ticket, the boarding pass has a boxy bar-code on it that you scan as you enter the plane. But some people just purchase tickets with their phones and the same boxy bar-code appears on-screen. It can then be used as a boarding pass; just scan as you walk in. Pretty cool, huh?

3 comments:

Alexis Jacobs said...

I have always read that the Japanese culture is light years ahead of us back here in the states.

I have enjoyed reading your blog and your adventures while in Japan. :)

The Kasdan Family said...

Thanks! We're always glad to "meet" people who enjoy our adventures...

Lisa said...

We'll catch up....someday!