iPhone 3G and Me

Hooray for you! Hooray for me! Hooray! Hooray! Hooray it’s iPhone day!iPhone 3G

Well, it was actually 13 days ago. I decided to wait a bit before writing about my iPhone experiences, since I knew I would be completely overcome with glee and entirely unable to be critical when it first arrived. To some extent that is probably still true, but I think we’ve reached the point of diminishing marginal critical distance.

At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, I’m just going to come out and say it. It has changed my life. More so than any other device or technology I have ever been lucky enough to have, I have found myself able to optimize and streamline, improve and expand, add value and reclaim lost time with my iPhone 3G. Instead of sitting at my desk and reading my feeds in the morning (my custom version of a morning paper), I read them on the bus. Instead of taking out my work laptop, setting up my KVM, and firing up the VPN to check work email, I pull my phone out of my pocket and skim through the relevant mail. Last week, when I needed to find my new dentist’s office, I looked it up on my iPhone, located myself using the GPS, and quickly found the office. I no longer need to carry a separate phone and music player – it’s all rolled into one compact and highly usable device. I have my work and personal calendars with me at all times, as well as my personal To Do list. I have a serviceable camera with me at all times, allowing me to snap a photo when I don’t have my camera with me, and email pictures of a cool location while I’m still there. All of this functionality is built in out of the box.

But ohhhh the applications. For the first time on a mobile device, I can experience the joy of downloading a new app and adding functionality that we’ve all come to take for granted with our home PCs. Yes, I have to live with the tyrany of Apple and their blacklisting, but it’s the most open we’ve had so far. I’ll try to focus here on applications that don’t duplicate existing web functionality ( Facebook, NYTimes, I’m looking at you kids). There’s the streaming radio applications, most notably Stitcher, which stiches together audio on a given subject and streams it over the 3G connection. There are applications that take advantage of the iPhone’s location awareness, like Yelp which provides reviews of nearby restaurants, GasBag which finds the closest/cheapest gas, and Trulia which finds nearby properties for sale. Then there is Evernote, which lets you easily and seamlessly upload notes and pictures to remember for later. I use this to take a picture of the blood pressure machine at the pharmacy, so I have an easy way to record my blood pressure over time.

And there are games. Lots and lots of games. Obviously the iPhone does not have the input devices that a dedicated mobile gaming system has. However, more and more games are coming out for the iPhone every day, and more than a few are pretty serious. These games are on the level one could expect from a circa 1996 console game. Obviously this is not ground breaking, but as EA and others gain experience with the platform and better understand it’s input characteristics, I think we’ll see the power of the system come through in the form of engaging mobile games. And hopefully less of these tilt-to-turn cookie cutter racers.

Is anything bad? Not really. Battery life is not great, but my requirements for a phone is that it make it through a day, and it does that just fine. It isn’t a tiny phone, but it really isn’t much wider than my old cell phone, and it is significantly thinner. I have had some dropped calls, which may be attributable to either Apple or AT&T, and that is annoying. However, considering how much my life has been improved by this new piece of technology, I’m willing to deal with a few dropped calls.

The iPhone is an amazing device, but I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone. If you don’t want to be more connected, don’t get the iPhone. If you don’t want the Internet to be a bigger part of your life. There are better devices for making calls, better GPS devices, and arguably better music players.

But if you are like me, you need an iPhone.

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