When taking a trip with a group of family and friends that you have not seen for a while, it may be a good idea to set some ground rules for how best to communicate with one another. Here are some useful tips on how best to stay in touch when planning a major event together:
Connecting and communicating with contacts
Sending contact information - At the start of any sort of group outing you should consider passing out your updated contact information. You may even want to create a separate, new contact for yourself with just the minimal amount of personal information relevant to the event. To share your contact, open the Contacts app and select the contact record you want to share. Scroll down to where it says “Share Contact” and you will see options to share by AirDrop, Mail or Message.
Group messages - Creating a group message that includes everyone is a great way you to share your updated contact record. To start a new group message, you simply keep adding contacts to the “To:” section of a new message’s header. If for some reason this is not working for you, make sure that you have turned on Group Messaging from within the Messages section of the Settings app. While sending messages to the entire group can save time, one thing to remember is that all replies to a group message will be sent to the entire group.
Custom ringtones - Using a custom ringtone for all members of the event will allow you to easily identify if someone within the group is trying to get in touch with you. You can purchase custom ringtones from the iTunes Music Store by tapping on the “More” tab and selecting “Tones.” To assign the new ringtone to a specific individual you will need to edit that person’s Contact information from within the Contacts app. Tap on Edit and scroll down until you see the Ringtone and Text Tone settings. You can even set up a custom vibration for event as well.
Facetime favorites - During a trip you should also update your list of favorites. There are two such lists that you need to manage on your iPhone. One is for the Phone app and the other is for Facetime. You can add new contacts to your favorites from within either of these two apps by simply tapping on the “+” icon. Doing so will make it easier to quickly call each other during the event.
Meeting invitations - When you want everyone to be at a specific location at a specific time, you can send out an invitation. Invitations are a good way to see who is attending (those who accepted the invitation) and who is not attending (those who decline the invitation). When creating a new event on your calendar you will need to add invitees to the event. Depending on the calendar service that the others use, you should be able to see who has accepted the invitation and who has not.
Sharing calendars - Managing a series of calendar invitations and keeping track of who accepted can become quite tedious when there is a lot going on. If such is the case, consider using a shared calendar instead. Using your iCloud account on your iPhone, open the Calendars app, click on the word “Calendars” on the bottom of the screen. Then tap on “Edit” in the top left corner to “Add Calendar … ”. Once a new calendar is created, you can go into its settings and share that calendar with others. You can even grant each member the privilege to edit and add events. This is a much easier way to keep everyone up to date with what is going on.
Published calendars - For members in your group that do not have an account that can accept an invitation to a shared calendar, you can elect to publish a read only version of your calendar for them to subscribe to. From within the Calendar app, tap on the word “Calendars” the same way you did when you added a new calendar. This time, click on the little information icon (the letter ‘i’ with a circle around it) to edit the details of the calendar. Scroll down to the bottom and you will be able to make the calendar public. Just be sure to send them a link to your calendar so they can subscribe to it.
Create a common account - A more inclusive way of getting everyone set up to share a calendar is to designate a specific calendar account for your trip. On one of the member’s device you will need to create a new Apple ID and iCloud account. Then each member of the group will need to add the newly created account to their device. Just be sure that on all devices the Calendar option is turned on in each account’s respective mail settings. Although it is a little more work to get set up, you may have a better chance of getting everyone on the trip equal privileges to access the calendar’s events.
Photos, locations and directions
Public Photo Stream website - Taking photos, sharing photos and commenting on photos can be part of the fun as well. Setting up a Shared Photo Library that all invited members can add photos too makes the most sense in such situations. From within the Photos app, create a “New Shared Stream…”. Once created tap on the “People” button on the bottom of the screen. Here you can invite others to your stream, allow them to post new photos, and even create a public website. Just like with public calendars, you will need to share the link to the public photo stream’s website with those you want to view it.
Share your current location - The Maps app is able to share your current location with others. Just tap on the pulsating blue dot to reveal your current location. Tap on the details of your current location as if it were any other location on the map. Here you will be able to share your location information via AirDrop, Message, Mail, Twitter or Facebook. What will be sent is a contact card with location information as well as an Apple maps URL with the latitude and longitude information of your current location.
Send driving directions - Sending someone information on how to get to a particular location is just as easy as sending someone your current location. Rather than sending the actual directions, you will typically send just the destination location. When the recipient receives the destination location, the Maps app will open up with a route from their current location to the destination. If you want to share the actual turn by turn route information with someone nearby, you will need to AirDrop the directions from your iPhone to theirs.
Find My Friends - There are times when you just want to know where everyone is at and you don’t want to text “where are you” to the group. If such is the case then Apple’s Find My Friends (free Universal) is the answer. With Find My Friends you can add a friend to a Temporary Sharing list. With this temporary sharing list you can control the duration that your friends will be able to track you down. Even during this period of time, if you do not want to be found, you can always configure Find My Friends to “Hide My Locations”.