Friday, April 24, 2009

iPhone versus the World

So on Facebook the other day, a friend asked “Should I get an iPhone? Can people who have one weigh in on how much they like it?"

And one person responded with something along the lines of “The iPhone is for kids and lemmings! Get a (insert other phone here) which does all the things an iPhone does and more!”

To which I reply – poppycock.

I have never been in love with phones. I didn’t even get a mobile phone until 2006 and lost it within six months. I never utilized its full functionality and never tried. I never texted anyone because using a 12 button keypad for 26 letters and 10 numbers was just beyond me. I hated it.

Why the iPhone is the greatest invention since the personal computer. We’ll start small and move to the amazing.

1. Texting is so easy I use it all the time. I have a full keyboard and have no problem figuring out how to use it.

2. It syncs with my contacts and calendar in Outlook so I always have all my phone numbers, addresses and appointments with me. It’s like a second brain in this regard.

3. With a press of a button I can see what the weather is going to be like for today and the rest of the week. (Big deal right? Hold on, I’m getting to the good stuff.)

4. If I’m on a trip for a few days and don’t bring my computer I can still surf the web and get my email the second it arrives in my inbox.

5. It’s not just a phone, it’s an iPod, playing music or podcasts for me as I walk to class. Or while sitting on the subway I can watch the Daily show.

6. Does any other phone have an app store with hundreds of thousands of songs, apps, podcasts, television shows, movies and books? Is any other phone so easy to buy and update with new stuff? I doubt it.

7. The camera is excellent.

8. Spanish to English and vice versa Dictionary. Very handy.

9. Lets move on to the stuff that I find amazing. As a writer I used to always carry a little voice recorder with me, which annoyed the crap out of me because with a phone, wallet, keys, sunglasses, regular glasses, and the voice recorder, pocket space became very scarce. For 99 cents I bought a voice recorder for the iPhone and now I just talk into my phone and it records everything for transcribing later. Which I can then drag over to my computer. Very convenient.

10. Can you play "Wolfenstein 3D" on your phone? How about "Pac-Man?" How about "Orions" a CCG like game similar to Magic? How about "Texas Hold-em?" "Bejeweled?"

11. GPS. So, I’m in Rome. I’m a bit lost. I know the Vatican is around here somewhere. Pull out the iPhone, pull up Google maps, type in start “Current location” and end “Vatican” and a nice map of Rome comes up showing where I am with a highlighted map showing my route to the Vatican.

12. Kindle. I have been lusting for a Kindle. All my bookshelves are filled up in Vermont. Wendy has a huge wall bookshelf in our apartment in Madrid and it is completely stuffed. And we add another half dozen books a month to it. The thought of having all of this on one wafer thin device is very appealing to me. Plus, I like having access to the vast reserves of I really liked “Red Thunder” by John Varley and have been thinking about picking up the rest in the series. This means I can either buy them in pounds and get them shipped from England to Spain, or wait until I go home this summer and make a trip to Burlington and go to Barnes and Noble and stock up on ten or fifteen books and carry them in my suitcase back to Spain. OR, I could get a Kindle and have access to everything at Amazon and download any book I want and have it in one minute. (I'm big on instant gratification.) Never taking up a lick of space on my bookshelf. And, I save a fortune on what the book costs. I can buy the latest “Twilight” book in hardcover for $29.99 or I can download it for $9.99. But who wants to spend $400?

The iPhone now has a Kindle app. Wendy downloaded it and bought “Eclipse" to try it out. It is fantastic. I would have thought the screen too small to read, but no. It is just fine. I have spent the last two nights reading “Eclipse” and found the iPhone lighter and more convenient than a regular book. Hard to believe but I swear it's true. And it was free, not $400. With the added benefit that I didn’t need a light on to read (I'm told the Kindle itself needs a light on to read with) so I lay in the dark reading while Wendy slept next to me. I needed to use the bathroom and with the white backdrop of the Kindle app, the iPhone is so bright I found I could use it as a flashlight. (there's actually an app called "Flashlight" where it just shows a white backdrop for this as well.)

Can you use your phone like a flashlight? No? What happens if you get lost in a cave? What then? Ha!

13. Mosquito Repellant. Yes, people have written apps that when the iPhone is hooked up to speakers will drive away mosquitoes.

14. Photos. I have every photo Wendy and I have ever taken on her digital camera on my iPhone. Someone asks me about my trip to the Galapagos, oh look, see here is the boat we were on, and here... Montse wants to know what my house in Vermont looks like : Got it right here. You were in a Capea? Yeah, here, look.

Add to the fact that no matter what other phones can do, they don’t have the community of the app store. They don’t have the thousands of developers working to make apps specific to the iPhone and the community bolstering those apps by adding in locations, restaurants, travel tips, etc.

I essentailly have a phone, voice recorder, Kindle, digital picturebook, GPS, weather channel, play station portable, flashlight, dictionary, television, camera and address book in one device.

It blows my mind.

I haven’t loved a device like this since my first personal computer.


  1. Might make a convert out of me yet. :)

  2. Sounds good, now shrink the size in half, make it out of oled's so it's flexible, and have it recharge by your excess bodyheat and you have yourself a pretty sweet device.

  3. The most fascinating app I've found yet:


    Have you ever heard a song on the radio, and wondered - "Hey, what's the name of this?

    Or better yet, been in a social gathering where people are trying to figure out what album a song is from or even who sings it.

    Enter Shazam.

    Shazam lets you use the microphone of your iPhone and tag a song. It will essentially listen to a 10 second clip of the song, at any point of the song, send it to some Shazamian database, and within a few seconds tell you what the name, artist, album is of the song you just tagged.

    Then there's a whole slew of other options that let you forward, save for later download from iTunes, etc - but just the technology that lets you record a clip of a song and have it tell you what it is amazes me.


  4. I agree with everything but the Camera. I think it is absolutely horrible. There is no built in flash so if you are in low light you are sol, and the resolution is so small that it is not worth it. Also with a sensor that small noise is abundant in anything but daylight.

  5. Jeff,
    While your comments are true, they have to be weighed against other phones. I don't know of a camera phone that has a flash, so it's equal in that sense. The resolution isn't nearly as good as a regualr camera but I find it equal or better to the other phone/camera's I've seen.

  6. Jamie, at my bday party in WAW one friend took photos with iPhone and other with her Samsung phone. Samsung did have a flash and the photos turned out fine, the iPhone ones were just crap.

  7. I wasn't aware they had phones with flashes. Good to know Kinga, thanks for the info.

  8. I very much agree with you Jaime. I felt much the same way you did about cell phones. I had one but only really used it very rarely. To me, cell phones were more of an annoyance than anything else.

    Then David started bringing up the Iphone and how much he thought he’d like it. Oh and David is NOT electronics savvy.

    So for Xmas this year, our gift to each other was an Iphone. We both got the 16g, his is white, mine is black. All I can say is OMG, this phone is amazing. Why, because it’s so much more than just a phone.

    I will admit, I hate texting and don’t do it on the Iphone but the applications are just insane. I too have Shazam and a bunch of other ones. Right now I’m trying to lose weight and David found a great app. for counting calories called Loseit.

    I surf the web practically anywhere I am, use the GPS locater a ton, hook it up to my speakers at work and play music…

    God I love my Iphone.

  9. I'm still waiting for my tricorder.

  10. Jamie, you should definitely get a Kindle. I bought one when v2 came out and have never regretted it for a second. It's like an iPod for someone who is into books instead of music..

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