The new iphone 3Gs arrived a few weeks ago. It was prompted by the dropping and smashing of my Windows Mobile based XDA Orbit. In truth, it was a phone that I never loved. This was the second time I smashed it, and I was always frustrated by the clunky nature of Windows Mobile and the lack of applications to install on it. So, when serendipitously, a letter arrived on my mat inviting me to upgrade the day after the XDA bit the dust it didn't take me long to decide.
The process was helped by my friend Dave who had spent an entire Italian meal showing off his new iphone (note to self, don't join the legion of "incredibly pleased with myself" Iphone users who insist on demonstrating its capabilities whenever and wherever - I have only been partially successful at this). He was inordinately pleased with his London Underground planner app which, not only planned his route for him, but told him which was the optimum carriage to get on to minimise distance through crowds to exits etc. He was unimpressed when I pointed out the logical flaw in this app: namely, if all iphone users on the Tube downloaded it then you would see empty carriages on trains except for the "optimum" carriage" which would be crammed with geeks peering at their iphones and using Google Latitude to see which of their Twitter friends were also wedged in with them. This image had me giggling, and I'm sure that there is a cartoon in there somewhere.
It wasn't enough to stop me putting my order in and I've now spent a few days playing with my new phone. It's a brilliant piece of software design - incredibly easy to use, but it does have its limitations:
It currently doesn't support Flash. This means that loads of the interactive content uploaded to Learning Platforms and available generally on the web won't work on it. To be fair, this is no different to other smartphones, although the HTC Hero does claim to support Flash now, although I'm told it's a bit clunky.
The phone won't run 3rd party apps in the background. That sounds fairly geeky, but it's an important point. As an example, I have downloaded the MapmyRide app which uses the GPS feature of the phone to trace any runs or bike rides I undertake onto a map. Unfortunately, if I receive a phone call during the training session I have to resume the MapmyRide tracking after the call. It would be so much better if it just ran in the background. Again, Android phones allow this.
Maybe I should have looked seriously at the HTC Hero,but I've been seduced by my iphone and in practice have found it to be a wonderfully intuitive and simple device to use. Synchronising contacts, calendar and email with Outlook was the work of moments and browsing the App Store has given me some great applications that will make my life a lot simpler. Doing stuff like taking a photo/video/voice memo/note is so intuitive that Apple don't put a manual in the box.
Here ar a few of the apps that I'm using regularly:
The Wordpress app is an absolute gem. I can set up access to as many Wordpress blogs as I want and write new posts, edit existing stuff, upload photos straight from the phone's camera and so on. It makes mobile blogging a piece of cake.
This is a Typepad blog, but the iphone app from Typepad is nowhere nearly as good as its Wordpress counterpart. Its biggest limitation is the inability to edit existing posts as it treats any edit you make as a brand new post. I use it if I really need to, but any edits or additions I leave until I get home.
Evernote is a new application for me that brings together the camera, notes, web bookmarks and voice memos into a single application. It uploads all notes that you create to your Evernote web page (creating an instant backup) and syncs with the Evernote desktop application that you can install on your home pc. I know some schools use Evernote on pupil handheld devices as their preferred jotter and I'm looking forward to exploring its potential.
Other apps I've installed:
BeeTagg: QR code recognition software (see post on QR codes)
Tweetdeck: Impressive Twitter app
MapmyRide: GPS tracking for exercise (there are lots of other GPS tracking apps)
Facebook: Nuff said
National Rail Enquiries: Although this cost £5 it is absolutely brilliant. If you use our rail network at all it's far easier to use this app to find out about trains/delays etc than using the web on your computer. Particularly keen on the "next train home" feature which, because it uses GPS will tell when your next train home from your nearest station is in a single click.I'm looking forward to exploring the new phone's potential (did I mention it makes phone calls too), and I would be very happy to receive suggestions for apps that I might have missed (there are so many thousands of apps in the Apple Store that finding what you want is actually a bit of a trial and error experience).