One of the primary reasons I switched to the iPhone 6S when it came out, after years of using Android (and, very briefly, Windows Phone), is the App Store. And while Apple’s home for apps serves as a great host for first-to-market downloads and higher-quality content than its Android counterpart, geographical restrictions have kept some apps out of reach for non-stateside residents.
Take Google’s iOS keyboard, Gboard, as an example; it’s a worthy alternative to sticking to the status quo. Unfortunately, it’s only available in the U.S. App Store. Ditto for Microsoft’s equally compelling Word Flow keyboard. Mind you, there are other cases where having a U.S.-based Apple ID means more and better options.
That said, unless you have a payment option tied to a U.S. address, switching regions isn’t an option. What you can do, however, is create a new ID, this time choosing the U.S. (or any other country) over your country of residence. Again, that method requires a mode of payment in your region of choice. Or does it? Turns out, you can make an Apple ID without keying in a payment option. You just have to know how to do it.
But before we get to the good part, do note the instructions below are for iPhone and iPad owners, though you might achieve the same results using iTunes.
1. Launch the App Store.
High-five yourself; you now have an Apple ID in your desired locale.
There are other advantages to creating an Apple ID that isn’t linked to a payment system, such as not worrying about accidentally spending anything on content and not having to watch your child like a hawk each time he or she borrows your phone or tablet. That said, regardless of reason, it’s probably better to have one than not.
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Netflix knows what you want and lets you watch without buffering
The best binge-watching experience!
Are you one of the millions of Netflix subscribers like I am? If you are (or even not), I have something interesting to share about how Netflix makes their streaming service the best in the business.
For those who don’t know, Netflix is not what they were before. The company started off as a DVD-rental business — just like your favorite local rental stores back when they were popular. It was in 2007 when they launched their streaming service formerly branded as Watch Now. It was restricted to just PCs and you needed the right browser to be able to play their videos.
It was also in 2007 when the first iPhone from Apple was announced, so two pioneers were born that year and they have yet to properly meet each other.
Netflix formally launched their mobile app in 2010 and it changed how we consume content on our phones. Today, more than 60 percent of Netflix members use the mobile app every month. This is why the company is continuously working to make long-form videos more enjoyable on mobile.
When I say enjoyable, it’s not just about showing in HDR, because there’s more to it than just high resolutions.
First, there is personalization. Netflix considers this very important because of the limited screen space on mobile phones, so you have to see the titles you really like first. This feature is not just on mobile; it’s also available on any internet-enabled device you have Netflix on, whether it’s a TV, laptop, tablet, or even game console.
If you can recall, Netflix added mobile previews to their app earlier this year. This lets users get a sneak peek of the content without leaving the homepage and make choosing a show much faster. It works well on mobile since it’s presented in vertical format — no need to turn the orientation of the phone.
Then we have the new feature called Smart Downloads which is currently available on Android phones and tablets. What this does is it identifies the show being watched and automatically downloads the next episode over a Wi-Fi network. It then automatically deletes the downloaded episode after it’s completed. Basically, Netflix makes sure that you can continue watching the next episode while you’re on the road without using up your data plan.
Speaking of saving data, Netflix is also working round-the-clock to make encoding much better. Thankfully, they know how mobile data can be expensive or slow in certain places.
Back then, Netflix streamed their shows in a “one-size-fits-all” bitrate which is great for high-quality streaming but it consumed too much data. Good thing they learned that not all content requires the same encoding bitrate, so they based it on individual titles. 2D animation shows can be compressed at a low bitrate but still be streamed in high quality, while action-packed titles will be meticulously compressed to avoid any compression artifacts.
Netflix didn’t stop there. Their latest innovation called Dynamic Optimizer Encoding now selects the best encoding recipe per shot. Each shot is dynamically encoded to ensure best overall quality which results in, according to Netflix, 64 percent less bandwidth consumption.
Before all this, users could only watch seven hours of content on mobile using 4GB of data. Since the implementation in 2015, viewers can now enjoy 10 hours, and with the per-shot encoding, members can binge-watch for 26 hours with the same amount of data. Soon, this will reach up to 33 hours using the latest AV1 codec which is something Netflix is currently working on.
Taiwan, Thailand, and South Korea get more Netflix original shows
More reasons to just watch all day!
Apart from anime in Japan and a number of films from India, Netflix also has upcoming content for other countries in Asia specifically Taiwan, Thailand, and South Korea. Soon, you won’t be busy just choosing which Western show to watch, but you’ll also get excited to watch homegrown talent from Asia.
Topping the list is Kingdom from South Korea. Produced by Astory, a prominent Korean drama production company, Kingdom is set in Korea’s medieval Joseon period. What sets Kingdom apart from other Korean dramas is that it’s set in a historical period and it’s a zombie action-thriller at the same time. Kingdom will be streaming on January 25, 2019.
Netflix’s first original show with an all-Korean cast Busted! gets a second season. In the first season of Busted!, seven celebrity detectives tackled different mysteries in each episode as they solved a bigger puzzle.
Moving to Thailand, there will be two Thai originals. First is The Stranded เคว้ง which is about an 18-year-old tsunami survivor along with 36 fellow students from an elite private school. They got stranded on a remote island in the Andaman Sea and mysterious events started to happen.
The next Thai original is Shimmers, a drama series about five teenagers at an isolated school in Northern Thailand. It’s a horror series that’ll surely be a hit among Thai audiences and fans of Thai thrillers.
Lastly, we have Triad Princess 極道千金. This is a Taiwanese original series about Angie who grew up in the shadow of her mafia-affiliated father. She defies her father’s wishes and takes a gig as an undercover security personnel for a famous actress.
There are no exact release dates for the new Netflix originals (aside from Kingdom), but expect them to be available for viewing starting next year.
5 apps that help you save money while traveling
Perfect for the budget traveler
They say travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer. This is definitely true. While it can give you priceless moments and unforgettable experiences, we have to admit that it often comes with a pretty steep price. We can’t put a price tag on expanding your horizons, but we can definitely help you make it a little less expensive.
I started young with traveling and my years of experience has led me to some hacks that can keep you from extra expenses. Today, I’ll be sharing with you my nine favorite apps that I use to make sure I don’t overspend and even save a pretty penny while I’m exploring a place far from home.
I truly believe that booking the most convenient flights while staying within your budget should be an Olympic sport. There are so many factors to consider — from someone’s schedule, the comfort that you get, down to the layovers. I use a lot of apps for this to check for the best rates. There’s Kayak and Skyscanner which I’m sure you already know about. And then, there’s Skiplagged. This app finds hidden-city tickets and can give you even more savings if you’re only looking for a short-haul flight.
What it actually does is it books you a cheaper, long-haul flight with a layover at your actual destination. Then, you simply skip the rest of the trip, exiting at the airport of your layover. In fact, the app is so good, it was sued by some airlines.
Tip: When using flight price comparison apps, always turn on the option to “watch” a flight you’re interested in and turn on notifications on your phone to get an alert right away. Sometimes, the prices can drop and you’d want to be the first person to grab that seat.
This is an online banking app that has saved my wallet one too many times while traveling. Some cities can be quite notorious for their money changers that charge commission so high, it feels like legal robbery. N26 lets me withdraw my money for free in most cities and has one of the best exchange rates out there. I have control over my money on my phone and I can also stay on top of my purchases since I get notifications for each transaction. They also make shopping fun and an absolute breeze since they give you a free Mastercard that comes in a nifty, clear design.
One thing to take note of is that this bank doesn’t have a physical branch. You apply for an account online via video chat and you’ll need your passport to prove your identity. To put money in your account, you can transfer funds from your other bank accounts. For cash deposits, you can go to their partner establishments (they’re usually supermarkets or drugstores) to put your money in.
Tip: When swiping any card while traveling, always pay in the local currency. You only go through the conversion once, saving you money.
We’re often told to stop converting currencies in our heads when traveling since it hinders the fun. Well, sometimes, it’s essential to do so. For this, I use XE which gives me up-to-date rates and in more than one currency at that.
Tip: Traveling to more than one country during your trip and eyeing that really cute top from & Other Stories? Price tags in EU countries often have the prices for Euro and countries that have their own currency, making it easier for you to see whether buying that top in Berlin is cheaper compared to buying it in Copenhagen or Stockholm. Save the currencies you’ll be using throughout the trip to make comparison a whole lot easier.
Expenses during your travels can creep up at you, especially while you’re enjoying a new place. From dining out to entrance fees for museums and major attractions, small expenses can accumulate rather quickly. This is why I set a daily budget every time I’m traveling. Sticking to it might be a more difficult task if I didn’t have Trail Wallet installed on my iPhone. It’s an oldie but definitely a goodie. I just set a daily budget and enter my expenses on the app. I can classify them by category (accommodation, food, etc.) and even add notes on them should I need to. It also allows me to set my home currency and that of the place I am traveling to so I know how much I’m actually spending. After a trip, it gives me — with colored graphs to boot — a comprehensive view of my spending, making it easier to plan for next time.
Tip: Enter your expenses as you go so you don’t forget to do it later on!
Another app that’s been around for ages but has proven that it can stand the test of time. If you’re someone like me who takes food seriously, then you’d want to eat at places that are worth your money and the calories. Yelp helps you find a restaurant that has the food you’re craving and is within your budget. Using the map function and veering away from areas that are touristy, while taking reviews and prices into consideration, can even bring you to some hidden gems that are only popular among locals. Want more savings? Download apps like OpenTable and TheFork. Not only can you make your table reservations through these apps, you can also get discounts when you dine at certain times.
Tip: Different city, different dining discount app. While OpenTable and TheFork are popular in more than one city, some countries prefer their localized version. It’s best to research in advance which dining app is the best at your destination to maximize your discount potential.
So that’s it for my money-saving, travel apps! Do you have any recommendations for me too? Would love to learn about the ones that you use in the comments section below!
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