Keeping in contact with the U.S. while in China: iMessage?
Replies: 15 - Last Post: Dec 2, 2012 3:47 AM Last Post By: SoloHobo
Nov 30, 2012 5:04 PM
Keeping in contact with the U.S. while in China: iMessage?I'll be in China for a while this spring/summer as part of a bigger backpacking trip. I've been told I need to check in somehow every few days. I understand Facebook and Twitter are blocked and I'd rather not break foreign law to try and use them. I don't want to pay for a phone data plan. So I was wondering, since I'll be bringing my iPhone, can I use iMessage/Facetime to contact my parents/friends assuming I find WiFi? Forgive my ignorance if this is a silly question. If I can't use iMessage/Facetime what is a good free way to simply let people know where I am?
Edited by: drewfromutah
Nov 30, 2012 5:15 PM
1You are not breaking any law by trying to use FB or twitter in China, you just cannot use them (unless you get technical and use services to get around the block).
I'm not sure what "iMessage/Facetime" are, but assuming you have a wifi connection, then you have access to the Internet, so you could simply email someone your location (although gmail can be very slow). Many hostels and guesthouses have free wifi, while hotels have a cable connection, or pay-for wifi.
Or, are there 'location apps' on the iphone that will simply identify where you are when you have a wifi connection? This can then be shared with family and friends.
Nov 30, 2012 5:18 PM
2As far as breaking the law, that's what I meant, I don't want to use a proxy or anything to get around the restrictions.
I was told everything Google was blocked. If Gmail works, I should be just fine though! Thanks!
Facetime is basically Apple's version of video calling which uses WiFi. Some people online say it's blocked in China, and some say it works. Same goes for iMessage which is basically text messaging over WiFi (or a data plan).
Edited by: drewfromutah
Nov 30, 2012 5:31 PM
Nov 30, 2012 5:33 PM
Nov 30, 2012 5:39 PM
Nov 30, 2012 7:53 PM
6"As far as breaking the law, that's what I meant, I don't want to use a proxy or anything to get around the restrictions."
Well why not? Your questions aren't silly, but this statement is. However, I will assume that this is because your understanding about how China works on a day-to-day basis, is very rudimentary. What are you afraid of, that you'll be clapped in jail or deported?! (um, no, unless you're trying to phone the Dalai Lama).
Nov 30, 2012 8:02 PM
7China might block some websites, but its not hard to get around them with a Proxy/Vpn, everyone does it, and all the multi national companies operating in China have a VPN, so all employees access Google and FB anyway, its not a big deal. As for the IPhone, yes you can use Facetime, Apples version of Skype for Apple to Apple users, but you may have issues with a decent connections fast enough for the video feeds, so good luck with that.
As far as your family, you cant be serious, China is about as safe as it gets, especially for a foreigner, its far less crime and violence than in the USA by 100 times, you really have nothing worry about, as most of Asia id far safer than North America, and most of EU. Tell your mom, no news is good news. There are millions of tourist every week in China, and millions more working there and going for business trips, its not 1982 there and there are restrictions, its actually far less police and laws than most of the west.
Your biggest worry will be not getting clipped by a moto in Shanghia or too hungover in Beijing....
Wifi is everywhere, as is internet access. Google/Gmail is a issue, so best to have a Yahoo/Hotmail account IMO.
Nov 30, 2012 8:14 PM
Nov 30, 2012 9:08 PM
9I think the easiest solution to your problem (given the Google blockage) will be to open a Hotmail or Yahoo mail account, and use that to keep in touch. (The problem with any given bit of software is that it is also dependent on network speed and reliability -- basic email programs are likely to be more robust/tolerant of network inadequacy than IM type programs that require interactive connectivity.)
Nov 30, 2012 10:12 PM
10If the main concern is contacting folks outside of China, then you can always just switch to a different email provider if one gets blocked. While I don't like the Yahoo interface, I've never found Yahoo mail to be blocked.
You can also get a cheap used phone and sim card in China and then text to your heart's content. The advantage is that cellphones work near everywhere, but you have to search out a wifi hotspot. Note that while hostels catering to foreigners usually have wifi, most Chinese hotels offer a LAN connection instead.
Dec 1, 2012 12:43 PM
Dec 1, 2012 12:48 PM
12Also, when you consider the time difference, if they are in North America, the window to catch each other for Facetime will be early morning and late evening....
Dec 1, 2012 1:05 PM
Dec 2, 2012 1:57 AM
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