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.