CS and the City Sean Lynch

A smartphone vacation in Indonesia

I wrapped a two week vacation to Indonesia. I took a factory reset Nexus S along with me as my internet lifeline. It’s been a few years since I last vacationed internationally and the entire experience was radically different this time, thanks substantially to massive penetration of high speed internet and smartphones. A few notes and observations on using both from my trip:


  • I purchased an Indosat SIM card with 6GB of 3G data for the equivalent of $7.50 USD (it also included a few SMS and minutes for coordinating with drivers, the original purpose)
  • Free wifi blanketed us everywhere we went, airports, train stations, every hotel/hostel, and most restaurants. I have 19 wifi networks remembered.

Apps installed

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Dropbox – Used favorites feature to cache itineraries, tickets, and receipts offline
  • Rdio – Offline caching worked great
  • Kindle
  • Instagram
  • Hipmunk
  • FlightAware – Not as good as FlightTracker Pro on iOS but helpful for our Eva Air flights
  • Indonesia Flights – Really great flight aggregator for a lot of the domestic Indonesian airlines
  • foursquare – Surprisingly popular in Indonesia (Jarkarta airport was “swarming” when I landed). Great for finding restaurants
  • TripAdvisor – Good content but app is just a website wrapper and sucks
  • Tap & Say – Helpful phrase book, but despite what the description says, still requires an internet connection. Wouldn’t buy again.
  • Google Sky – Cool toy when spending evenings outside civilization
  • Skype WiFi – Useless. Need to research a better wifi SIP app

Used 4.3 on a relatively old phone (picked it because it had a traditional SIM slot). Experience was slow and rapidly slowed with more apps, battery life was short, many apps performed poorly in low connectivity conditions.

Technology in Indonesia

  • BlackBerry and candy bar phones still popular
  • Tons of tablet use among tourists
  • Nearly every restaurant had its own Facebook, Twitter, and email address (Yahoo popular, occasionally Gmail)
  • WhatsApp, Line, and other messaging apps heavily advertised/bundled with telco packages