iCame, iSaw iGot an iPhone

After living for so long in the digital wasteland that is owning a non-smart phone, I finally succumbed, knelt at the alter of Apple and prayed to His Good Lord Steve Jobs for an iPhone. He deemed me worthy and so I have now popped my smartphone cherry for a small black brick of capacitors and circuit boards.

Much has been written about the iPhone. Apple fanboys arguing: ‘it’s so perfect, so synergised, so beautiful to look at, and the whole touch screen interface…and I need some tissues.‘ And others saying: ‘Well, you’ll find that the Xs3-98uykl processors found in HTC handsets are very efficient and the open source software make for a better social experience…which I can demonstrate with a battle between my Dungeons & Dragons and Star Trek action figures.’

I think that it is probably someone between the two. It does some things very, very well (such as the App Store and the seamless integration of messaging, email and contacts) but others it doesn’t do quite so well (Safari Light is a pretty poor web browser, the lack of Flash is a pain and text handling is still a bit fiddly). Also (yeah, and I know it is the cutting edge of tech and has a touch screen interface) the battery life sucks. I feel like Tom Cruise in Risky Business rushing from one charging station to the next…

But even though it’s competitors are snappin’ at it’s heels there is no doubt that when the iPhone was launched it was a truly revolutionary device. Using an old mobile phone (now referred to as dumb phones – we’re a fickle species, aren’t we?) now feels wierd…buttons? Buttons?! The nearest one could get – at the time – to anything remotely similar was using a bastard child of a PDA and a mobile phone running Windows Light Mobile (or whatever it was called) – the single most unituitive operating system since VHS recorders came with a timer-record. Because of the iPhone, Nokia and SonyEriccson have been reduced to selling ‘burners’ to drug dealers and tweeners. How the mighty have fallen.

The big sell, the hook, the cherry that-is-bigger-than-the-cake on the cake is the App Store. Never before have we been able to pick and choose what we run on our phone in such a simple way. Oh, I like a game of Snake as much as the next man, but there is a world of difference between that and playing Grand Theft Auto with a touch screen interface. So, I have decided to compile a short list of the apps I thought were worth getting and why. If you have a Windows phone or a Nokia, then I am sorry, but there is a high likelihood that you suspect I am talking out of my arse – but until you get an iPhone (or something running Android) you are going to have to accept on faith that an App Store exists:

Evernote Evernote is a kind of digital scrapbook and you can make notes, save images, documents or web pages – just about anything you want. At first you wonder if it’s just a gimmick but after a while you end up using it as a bit of a binder for everything. I use mine to collect cool images and bits of design that I like (I’ll do a post on that one day) and interesting articles.

Viber This feels too good to be true and I worry that one day a bunch of big guys with pipes are going to call round to my apartment and demand payment or I’ll be playing bone jigsaw with a surgeon. But, really, it is free calls! No bollocks! Honest! You cane your MB limit (if you have one) but on WiFi you can go hog wild and phone your mates in Oz just for fun! (they need Viber and an iPhone though…)

Videojug Wanna learn how to knit? Play the ukelele? Field strip a SA-80? Dance the carumba? Videojug is full of shameless people willing to video themselves teaching you the most random things and it is awesome on the iPhone. Pure. Addictive. Learning.

SBB Mobile If you don’t live in Swizzerland then this will mean nothing to you. However, SBB is the train network here and their mobile app is easily one of the best commercial apps I have ever used. Real time train information (you can actually track your train on the train map – and I ain’t making that up), which platform it leaves from, you can buy tickets, search timetables and if no train is available it will suggest alternate routes with buses. This is how it should be done. Peerless. (oh, and it does help that the trains here are brutally efficient)

Amazon Oh, the decline of the independent bookshop; boo-hoo!!! C’mon, let’s be honest here, most indie bookshops are choc full of worthy books that some spangle at the TLS thnks we should all read because we’re pretty base – us lot – and some be-tweeded book snob thinks we should read them as well? As you shyly ask if they have the latest Jeffery Deaver or Lionel Shriver and you sense – and sometimes hear – the patronising snort as they say that they’ll have to order it and by-the-way you’ll have to buy it at RRP and you’ll get it in 3 weeks. Fuck that. Amazon is a-w-e-s-o-m-e. They have everything and this app is like a 4D catalogue designed by aliens. You can take pictures of stuff you like and Amazon will search for similar stuff. Get outta here! Scan a barcode and they’ll find it as well. Me love tech.

Remote Control your iTunes playlists from your iPhone. I know we have had remote controls forever but controlling my computer with my phone makes me feel like an evil Bond villain complete with creepy laugh.

8Tracks Even though I have over 4000 tracks on iTunes I still have a lead digit on the forward button so 8Tracks is like having a radio station but minus irritating DJs (Fearne Cotton is the audio equivalent of botulism), adverts and news breaks. I have discovered loads of new music and rediscovered old music on here. Free and fun. Check it out.


16 thoughts on “iCame, iSaw iGot an iPhone

  1. Don’t forget the Skyplus app that lets you set your recorder from anywhere, very easily. Oh, and the compass app. I have it, and have never used it- but apparently that is what the Libyan rebels are using to target their mortars….along with google earth.

    1. The Skyplus thing is an awesome idea. Swisscom doesn’t have the same thing – the skinflints!

      The Libyan rebels surely can’t be hitting anything? I try and get Google Maps to work and half the time it asks me to dance the Macarena to stop ‘signal interference.’ The compass is pretty accurate but the only times you ever need either of these apps is when you’re abroad…which is when you can’t use them because it will cost you £1000.00 per MB to just use Maps to find a bloody supermarket.

      1. Apparently they have ‘computer experts’ (read some sort of special forces/CIA operatives) on the case with computer wizardry. And they nicked Gadaffi’s credit card nos and are charging it all to him… (or something like that.) The same news article also said that rebels without military training (I suspect that will be most of them) are playing Call of Duty daily to give them some tactical ideas.

        It’s not worrying at all, is it?

      2. Eh? So all the rebels are running around shouting: ‘I pwned him! I pwned him! I kill another marine and I get a helicopter gunship!’

    1. I have used a Windows phone and I quite liked it. But it felt like using a Vtech after using a Powerbook – apparently it will get better (been saying that about Windows for years now…)

      1. I’ve been waiting for mine to get better. Today it decided it was full – it can’t “see” the 4Gb memory card I stuck in there, so I can’t download, or film….Sigh. Plus the data plan only allows me to pay for data, not use any, so even if I wanted to use the internet on the move, I can’t. Not impressed. But it IS shiny.

  2. If only the battery life could be sorted out. Tho I’ve a 3, so maybe your new and improved version doesn’t say ‘bye’ the second you do something crazy like make a call or something. Thanks for Viber introduction, is it less jolty than Skype?

  3. The Sky+ app is awesome. No more “I wish I’d set the recorder for X this morning” regrets. Also Shazam for identifying songs within seconds, as well as being able to access IMDb, Wikipedia etc. And, of course, all your various social networking apps, which is where smartphones really come into their own.

    Pass the tissues, please.

    You might also like this categorisation of smartphone users – it’s alarmingly accurate:

    1. The cartoon is awesome – made me laugh out loud.

      I find Twitter better on an iPhone than online or using the dedicated ‘App’ on the Mac. Weird that.

      1. The Twitter iPhone app is excellent (although the iPad one is even better). When I’m on the desktop I mostly use Tweetdeck to manage Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare. (I think there’s a Mac version?) The Tweetdeck app for iPhone is OK, but the screen’s just too small to really unleash the power of the desktop version.

  4. The only reason the iPhone is superior to it’s competitors is that the app store vets all the apps. Which is why it’s a bit pricey/chockablock full of ads. If Android apps were fully tested then I’d be tempted to switch. Although I hear the media /syncing and playback isn’t very good with a Mac. But that’s hear say.

    Bottom line, smart phones are awesome, have huge shiny, hi res, touchscreens. Keeping a USB wire in your pocket to charge on the nearest hub/computer/cigarette lighter is a teeny weeny price to pay. Besides I’ve seen how you charge your phone. You stick it in a 3rd party cradle for 10mins and expect it to do a full charge!

    1. Anyone have an Android they can sing the praises of?

      I saw the new Nokia (running [gags] Windows 8 – or whatever dogs breakfast MS have cobbled together from bits of Wordpad and Minesweeper…) and it does look kinda sweet.

      The charge time of the iPhone is appalling. Like an old Motorola from the ’90’s.

  5. “Fearne Cotton is the audio equivalent of botulism”.
    You do actually rock.

    I fell madly and deeply in love with the iPod, around the time I stopped working and am now grief-stricken that I can’t afford an iPhone.
    So, thanks for that. I am now even more miserable about it.

    Mind you, I could find a new career by learning via Videojug, eh? Offski…

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