Aug 242018

Four weeks ago, in July 2018, my smartphone was fatally water damaged when placed inside a supposedly waterproof drybag. Not having an available budget to replace I decided to see if I could survive without one.

I’ve been a big Android user for many years. I used a lot of Apps, so it will be a challenge.


Probably the biggest reason to have a smartphone; to be able to take a picture of your kids whenever you want, grab a picture of any information you see anywhere is super convenient. Not being able to do this is… well different, actually inconvenient, I’m used to be able to take a picture of a whiteboard at work and send it to a dummy WhatsApp group (everyone removed from the group) so I can then access it on my laptop.

Garmin Connect

I run regularly and the first thing I missed was being able to wirelessly sync from my Garmin Forerunner watch to my phone, and consequently, Garmin connect. The very manageable workaround is to:

  1. Connect the Garmin to your computer via USB
  2. Login to the Garmin connect web app
  3. Go to Import Data
  4. Select Browse and navigate to the folder on your phone containing the activity files, e.g. F: Garmin\Activity, you will see a .FIT file here cretaed at the time and date of your activity, you can select multiple files
  5. Select Import Data on the web app page
  6. If you have Endomonso or Strava intergrartion enabled the activities will auto sync to those apps immediately


I don’t use Facebook except to thank people for birthday wishes one a year and I only use Twitter when I occasionally attend a conference so I thought I did not do Social Media! My wife explained to me that you know all the groups I was involved with on WhatsApp? Well, that’s social media, so don’t be fooling yourself!

WhatsApp has replaced texting and email in a lot of cases, though not all, for me. I tried emailing some people who I knew would reply to me quickly on WhatsApp and they did not reply! It was awkward being involved in some community stuff without WhatsApp, I was missing out on stuff I wanted and should be aware of. People said can you not just use WhatsApp on the web, but you need to have WhatsApp installed on your phone to do that, so you need a SmartPhone to use WhatsApp. Or do you! I googled how to use WhatsApp without a smartphone. I learned about android emulators which simulate an android device on your computer.

There are a lot of Android emulators available, the most common usage seems to be to access Android games. Most of the emualators use VirtualBox to host the emaultor (see more on virtualisation).

  1. I started with Bluestacks, it installed and I added the downloaded WhatsApp android file from the WhatsApp site. I had loading error messages but eventually, all did install. I had a backup on my google drive from 3 weeks before the water damage – I had been on vacation and the backup must not have been running, though I had set it up to ran daily whether on wi-fi or not. The backup restored and then 470 messages came in in 25 conversations, I was back! Or so I thought. I was not able to get WhatsApp open again on Bluestacks 🙁 I also tried installing on a Windows 10 machine but that had similar problems and never loaded at all. Time to move on.
  2. I tried the free version of YouWave, YouWave-Android-Free-3-31.exe, but when I tried to run it I got the message that it can’t exist with VirtualBox already installed on your machine. I used the later for development, so time to move on again.
  3. I next tried Memu Play. I clicked on Google Play and had to login. I have 2 step verification setup so a code was texted to my brick as well as a similar g-code. I then was able to install WhatsApp as normal on my phone and restore the old backup again. It has worked seamlessly on my Windows 7 machine since then. BTW, Memu shows in google by default as a Samsung Galaxy 7 edge.

Using WhatsApp an annoying thing was not being able to paste a screenshot/picture. The workaround I am using means you need to save the screenshot to a temporary file first, not a deak breaker.

  1. From Google Play install Amaze file manager and turn on Root Explorer in the setting of the App.
  2. Memu creates a download folder called Memu Download in your download folder on your windows machine, more info.
  3. To load a picture/file into WhatsApp, select Attach | Document | Browse Other Docs, then select Show SD card from the 3 dot menu in the top right-hand hand corner, this adds Internal storage to the top left list, select this and you will then see the Download folder and in that see any file you have saved there on your PC, available for loading into WhatsApp.
  4. Pictures received on WhatsApp can be accessed via Amaze by navigating to /storage/emulated/0/WhatsApp/Media/WhatsApp Images. Click on the thumnail to select pictures and then press the copy icon on the top, move to /storage/emulated/0/Download and select paste. Your photos are then accessible in the MEmu Download sub-folder of your download directory in Windows. From here you can attach them to a calendar event in google calendar and they will be autoloaded into Google photos.


  • Ideally I would install the emulator on both home and work machines but an issue is syncing WhatsApp between both, one could force a backup (via WhatsApp Settings | Chat | Chat backup) before leaving work and a restore when you get home but that is a pain and not manageable so I just use the one instance.
  • The sound notification for WhatsApp messages in the emulator was annoying and I could not turn it off for some reason


I can access a lot of my apps as WebApps, the ones I have accessed since the damage are:

  • Endomondo
  • Strava
  • Trello
  • Trip Advisor

Other Apps

Currently, the only apps I am really missing are:

  1. Our Groceries which we share for groceries list, so not having this is a pain
  2. Beep’n’go – this had all my store cards 🙁 Discontinued app but here’s how to install it if you have a smartphone!
  3. Keepass2Android means I can access all personal info from passwords to passport number
  4. Podcast Addict
    • Podcast addict & also recently Audible which I currently have a subscription for – I formerly used both running. I can access both from my Kindle at home – it’s relatively easy to install Google Play on your Kindle, but it’s not practical to run with a kindle!
  5. CamScanner A great app for scanning text, easily sizing it correctly and autosaving to the cloud.

I will continue for now and see if I can adapt.