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My iPhone, My Apps

I see my family about once a year. We’re quite spread out. Our traditional nuclear family is dispersed as though we had chosen where to live by throwing darts at a map. My sisters are in Minneapolis and Washington DC and my parents are still in the good old Quad Cities. My aim must be the worst, because I’m in Mannheim, Germany. Every September, my parents rent a house on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina and their three children do their best to travel there to catch up as a family, share stories and soak in some final sun rays before the long winter. We don’t do much with our time on the island. Relaxing is about all that gets done.

Sitting on the small gazebo, watching the waves roll in and out as the sun set behind us we were having one of three or four conversations about telephones. You see, my older sister had just decided to change her job and in doing so she was going to lose her company’s perk telephone. She had an older smartphone. I don’t remember the make, but it sounded like she used it mainly as a telephone. “Get an iPhone,” my younger sister and I said simultaneously. We both went on to explain the pros of an iPhone to my older sister who more likely than not knew as much as we about the iPhone. I don’t know if upon her return to Minneapolis she got one, but both my younger sister and I have joined the iPhoned masses since then.

I picked up my iPhone here in Germany about a week after returning from Hilton Head. I was getting myself a toy under the masked pretence that I would use it as a business tool. In the last few months, the iPhone has proven to be both toy and tool and there is no way I will return to a phone that is not smart.

The world is aware of what an iPhone is and what an iPhone does. Mine has become essential to me. E-mails are delivered to my pocket and even chime a tone when they arrive. I can also easily access the Internet from anywhere. Music, games, a camera and even a flashlight are all easily accessible in one small machine.

One of the greatest advantages the iPhone has over other smartphones is the Apple exclusive App Store. The App Store provides users of the iPhone, iPod Touch and in a few weeks the iPad with a huge variety of applications from time management tools to tower defense games. Although other application distribution services have been introduced by the iPhone’s competition such as the Android Market and Ovi Store, none of them have the sheer quantity of the App Store’s 140,000+ apps.

I use a many apps on my iPhone. Some of them have become indispensible, others have been used only once or twice. Apps I find not to work (New York Times) or with services not available in my country (Skype) are quickly removed from my phone so as to clear up space. What follows are the six pages of apps that you’d find on my iPhone today if you were to pick it up for a quick glance.

On the first page of my iPhone, you’ll find the apps I use most. At the bottom of the page you’ll see icons for Phone (telephone), Mail (e-mail), Safari (Apple’s built in web browser) and iPod (music, audio books and podcasts) which are the basic functions of your iPhone. I changed my e-mail account from Hotmail to Ymail when I got the iPhone as Hotmail didn’t have a push function that delivers mails directly to my phone much like an IM or an SMS. One of the most used apps on my iPhone s the Facebook app. Before the iPhone, I checked my Facebook account one time in the month at the most. Now it has become a staple allowing me to communicate with family and friends whenever I have a few seconds of down time. Tweetie is my Twitter app and the WordPress app allows me to check, edit and respond to comments to my blog while on the go. Dictionary is dictionary.com while dict.cc will connect you with one of the best German / English dictionaries on the web. The Google app in the bottom right is an excellent search engine that processes queries given as voice commands.

The second page is a kind of a junk page. Around Me is a good app. Using the iPhone’s built in GPS and a telephone book it can find anything from a pharmacy to a singles bar in your surroundings, tell you the distance to said location and even link up with Google Maps and show you how to get there from your standpoint. Meinestadt is the German equivalent of Around Me, the only difference is that it also lists activities happening that day and in the near future. Shazam is rumored recognize any song you play for it, but I’ve never gotten it to work. Fitness Pro is an encyclopedia of exercises and how to do them. It has many pictures of real people doing step by step instructions for each exercise. Google Earth is a great app to use when you’re bragging to Grandma about your new toy. It can also zone in on your location using the iPhone’s built in GPS zooming from in from a satellite image into a 3D street view of your current location although not all locations offer a 3D street view. WSI Tools is a new free app offered by my company. Amongst other things, it conjugates irregular verbs which I think is pretty cool.

In the upper left corner of my third page, you’ll find the App Store. You can connect directly from your phone to buy new apps without connecting or syncing to your PC or Mac at home. iTunes, much like the App Store allows you to download music, audio books and podcasts when on the go. PandoraBox is an app which connects to the App Store and finds good deals and sales. I use it to find things that are free for a day or two. Being an American living in Germany, Convertbot helps me understand how a kilo relates to a pound, how many kilometers are in a mile, how cold -8° Celsius is. It even converts currencies. The pearl of this page though is the Flashlight app. All it does is illuminate the entire iPhone screen in bright white. Depending on your screen settings you can use this as a emergency light when you’ve dropped all of your change under the table at the bar.

Page four is my camera page. I use the iPhone’s 3 megapixel camera to take lots and lots and lots of pictures. Camera Genius is an excellent app which has become my standard camera on the iPhone as it offers an antishake option. Before Camera Genius, my photos were blurry due to my jittery inability to hold the camera still for less than one second. That problem is gone now. Camera Genius also offers a “zoom”, a timer and a burst mode which allows you to take three quick consecutive shots. Spooky Photo, Bunny Cam, iCandyPix2 and Movie Costume all provide different overlays over a photo. Would you have looked better at the church meeting in full pirate garb? Movie Costume will help you out there. Want to make your girlfriend jealous, send her a photo of yourself and a bikini clad model sitting on your lap thanks to iCandyPix2. ReelDirector offers you the means to edit videos taken from your iPhone without the hassle of connecting to your computer.

Page five is my games page. Not much worth mentioning here. Lightsaber is a free app that turns your iPhone into every Star Wars aficionado’s weapon of choice. When you move the phone, it emits the sounds of a lightsaber and with an abrupt flick of the wrist it clangs in protest as if it had struck another lightsaber in battle. The yellow FREE! or LITE strips denote that these apps are demos and that there are pay versions available on the App Store. Fieldrunners and PvZ (Plants Vs Zombies) are two very competent and fun tower defense games. Pocket God is an often updated god-game in which you can ruin the lives of defenseless island villagers by means of weather, disaster, sharks and monsters. The last page is a list of direct links to websites that I use often. Click on them once and you are delivered on a fresh web page via Safari to its content.

I’m sure everyone’s iPhone is a unique experience much how one’s reflection can’t be duplicated by anyone else. For someone who hasn’t used or fiddled with one, I hope I’ve showed you some of the many uses of the iPhone. For those of you who use an iPhone on a daily basis, this is how I use it.

It’s a great machine. Has it changed how I live my life? Perhaps a little.

What about you, what apps do you use? What apps am I missing?

I’d enjoy all of the info on cool, prodductive and fun apps I can get.

One good source for iPhone App information is the podcast Appslappy. It’s one of Scott Johnson’s many podcasts.

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February 16, 2010 - Posted by | Rabid Consumerism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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