How I use my iPhone pt. 1

While this will all be old news to my ADN friends, I have other friends and family that are still getting used to the idea of having a computer in their pocket.


A friend of mine recently got an iPhone and posted something to the effect of, “What’s the big deal?” I put off buying an iPhone for a while because I thought the same. My iPod touch convinced me I needed to try an iPhone and I’ve never looked back. Calling an iPhone a phone doesn’t really make sense any more. All of the smart phones out there are networked pocket computers with cameras, GPS, and sensors. If you want to know why a smart phone is a big deal, you need to use the apps made for them. The iPhone has an advantage in that it typically gets apps before anyone else and they tend to look, and function better as well. iPhones also get regular updates adding features and security patches along with bug fixes. Other platforms tend to lag behind, if they get updated at all. Plus, it’s nice owning a product that wasn’t designed as a method of collecting your data and presenting ads to you. Here’s a run down of my most frequently used apps…

Productivity apps. Not going to go into detail here but things like calendar, notes, contacts, and reminders are used so frequently that a lot of us have forgotten that we didn’t used to do them on our phone. Adding to their usefulness is the ability to sync back to your computer(s) and other devices, great having everything available.

Music. I can’t tell you how important this is to me. I have not listened to the radio in years. I get everything from my phone. i stream music for a radio-like experience (minus the ads and plus control over which songs get played) primarily from Slacker Radio and Spotify. For listening to specific things, I either use spottily or my iTunes library. I use iTunes in the cloud so that I have access to all of my songs without having to keep them on my phone. When I’m at home I listen to my stereo of course but I use my phone either to control my iTunes library with the Remote app from Apple or using other services and sending the audio to my stereo via airplay. Airplay is a super simple way to send media to my TV or stereo via Apple devices.

News. I get a lot of my news via RSS feeds. Really Simple Syndication is a way for websites to send out updates to you instead of having to go to each site. I follow… 100 websites? This is the best way to see what they are doing with minimal fuss. I use an app/service called Newsblur. I’ve been very happy with it, it does what I need it to do. I also use several apps that aggregate news based on my interests or specific sites. They tend to be more visually attractive and fun whereas RSS readers tend to be text based and emphasize functionality. I use both Zite and Pulse for attractive ways to read the news that’s important to me. That tends towards the geeky, techy side of things. I also use apps from Al Jeezera English, BBC, and The Guardian for regular news. I tend to use foreign news sites because they have much better coverage of world wide events.

Reading. I read books, short stories, and web sites saved for later reading on my phone. I buy content from a variety of sources including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and the Apple iBookstore. I prefer reading on a larger screen but my phone is always with me and is ideal for killing time.  I use Instapaper to save specific web articles to read later. There are plenty of times that I have come across blog posts, articles, or stories that I don’t have time to read at the moment or I just want to always have access to. I can save any web page to Instapaper to read later.

Games. I’m not much of a gamer but there are several games that I do play more than I should. Pinball arcade is amazing. They take real life pinball games, disassemble them, and then reconstruct them digitally. The physics engine is amazing and its a ton of fun. I think I have managed to shake my Bejeweled addiction although I always fear a relapse. I’m currently obsessing over Spelltower and I’ve had some intense Letterpress games. Both of those are word games.

Photography. iPhones are easily the most popular camera on photo sharing sites designed around mobile phones. I am a huge camera and lens snob. I have no delusions about the absolute quality of the iPhone’s camera but damn, it is awfully handy. The killer application of a phone camera is sharing. I can snap a picture and in seconds share it with anyone. It really isn’t a bad point and shoot camera, especially outdoors. The standard camera app is fine but its panorama mode is amazing. So easy to do and it makes impressive images. There are a zillion photography apps for the iPhone.  Cortex Cam is a great app for getting good shots in low light. It takes a bunch of images and then stacks them. It can then do a pretty good job of taking noise out of the end result. It doesn’t work for things that are moving but it can be a life saver in darker situations. 645PRO is the most sophisticated photo app that I’ve seen for the iPhone. It has emulsion emulators, lots of different “lens filters”, and WB adjustments. It also allows you to capture uncompressed images. When I don’t feel like fiddling with controls, I use the standard photo app for color and Hueless for B&W.

I even use photography apps after the picture has been taken. I’ll get to some sharing options in the next post. I use an app named Geotag Photos in order to make GPS coordinates for the pictures I take with my real camera. The app records where I am as I am shooting. The file it makes can be merged with the pictures I’ve taken and BAM! All my pictures are geotagged. All of the pictures taken with the phone are already geotagged of course. For quick edits of the pictures I take I use Snapseed. It’s a super easy editing program and surprisingly powerful one at that. For more involved edits I use iPhoto. Lots and lots of options and there is a ton of things you can do to your pictures with it.

That’s enough for now. Will hopefully finish up in the next post.

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