How the TMO Staff Members Use Their iPhones, Part II of II

| Analysis

Recently, on a conference call, some of the TMO staff members started chatting about the different ways we use our iPhones and the different apps we all use. When we looked into it, the differences were amazing, so we thought we'd share what we found out with our readers. This is Part II of II.

Here are the questions we asked asked ourselves:

  1. What kind of iPhone and case do you have?
  2. Is the iPhone a separate but equal computer for you?
  3. If you use the iPhone in a fundamentally different way, how so?
  4. Do you try to use the same apps on the iPhone as your Mac -- or do you find some iPhone apps better suited to the mobile life?
  5. What are some of your favorite iPhone apps and what do you use them for?

Ted Landau

Ted Landau, TMO Contributor

I have a black iPhone 3GS (32 GB). I use an iFrogz Luxe case and love it. It's attractive without getting in the way of the iPhone design itself. With my prior iPhone 3G, I added a Power Support film over the screen. But, so far at least, I am going "naked" with the 3GS and have had no scratches or other problems.

Also, I have a Richard Solo external battery. It works great for airplane trips and such. I much prefer this to batteries built into a case, as I find that I rarely need the extra power and prefer not to add bulk unnecessarily.

My iPhone is certainly separate, but not equal. The iPhone is usually not a substitute for a Mac when I need to get work done. When writing an article, for example, the physical keyboard and larger screen are essential. Even for Web surfing, the much faster page loads on my Mac, and the larger screen again, make it the preferred choice.

However, when out of my house, I find myself using the iPhone more and more, in situations where I would have previously used a laptop. For checking e-mail, finding out movie times, getting directions to a restaurant or doing a quick Google search, the iPhone is all I need. In fact, it's better than a laptop -- because it is always with me and almost always connected to the Internet (compliments of the 3G connection).

When on the go, I use the iPhone to compare prices at stores, get the latest news headlines, listen to NPR, and check the weather. The iPhone is a near perfect Twitter appliance (for one thing, snapping and posting a photo is faster and easier than with a Mac).

Even when I'm home and my desktop Mac is easily accessible, I often grab my iPhone for many of these tasks. I also find myself grabbing the iPhone whenever I want to play a game. The games on my Mac are sitting idle for the most part. I am convinced that, over the next few years, the iPhone (and the rumored iTablet) will replace laptops for most everyday uses.

Favorite apps? Of the apps that came with the iPhone, I use almost all of them. Maps is certainly at the top of the list. I use it for quick directions or even for getting phone numbers. I sync my calendar via MobileMe to the Calendar app. I take photos and videos with Camera, sometimes sending the photos to others via Messages. I check in with Weather and Stocks several times a day. And, of course, I use Phone, Mail, Safari and iPod. They're all great.

As for third party apps, I depend on Tweetie when I Twitter. And I really like Boxcar, for notifying me when new Twitter messages, directed to me, arrive. I use the New York Times and AP Mobile apps for news. I often use the Google app for voice-entered searches. I have both Showtimes and Flixster for finding movie locations and times; each has its pros and cons. I like AroundMe and Yelp for restaurant searching. I use an HP-15C emulator when I want a calculator.

I've read a few books using the Kindle app; it works surprisingly well. For storing PDFs on my iPhone, I typically use FileMagnet. I have Navigon, which works about as well as a standalone GPS for turn-by-turn navigation.

For games, I spend more time than I should with Mondo Solitaire, Apple's HoldEm, The Deep (pinball), iFighter, FieldRunners, Madden NFL, and several Othello/Reversi apps.

I have a jailbroken iPhone, and really like ScreenSplitr (for showing my iPhone's screen on my Mac) as well as Netatalk (for mounting the iPhone wirelessly on my Mac).

Basically, I use the iPhone for almost everything. It's already hard to remember how I got by without one.

Bob LeVitus

Bob LeVitus, TMO Contributor

Mine is a black 32 GB iPhone 3GS. Since I'm always evaluating cases and other accessories, I rarely use the same case for more than a week. Today I'm using a Mophie Juice Pack Air case and battery combo. Last week I had an iSkin Solo FX. The week before a Uniea U-Suit Premium (which is premium leather and looks like carbon fiber).

The iPhone is not separate but equal. I have fat fingers so I try to do as little typing as possible. For example, if I get a business card or make an appointment on the road, I usually wait until I'm in the office and type the info into Address Book or iCal on my Mac using my beloved full-size keyboard (Microsoft Ergonomic Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000). 

It's more like an extension of my computer. I love getting my iCal reminders on it when I’m away from my desk. And I love having important e-mail arrive on my iPhone rather than having it wait in the office until the next time I'm at my desk.

Fundamentally different way? Hmmmm. My main email accounts are IMAP accounts, which is to say my in box always looked the same regardless of whether I was on my phone or my Mac and I didn't have to worry about syncing messages between them. But I quickly realized I didn't want all of my email to show on my iPhone. I get a lotof mail -- around 1,000 pieces a day (mostly spam) -- and just scrolling through all those messages (much less dealing with them on the iPhone) was a nightmare. So I set up a separate email account that I've never used for anything but incoming messages on my iPhone. Then I set up rules to forward all of my important messages to that email account, which I only use on my iPhone… So if the sender is a friend or family, or @Apple.com, @Wiley.com, @MacObserver.com, and a few domains, as soon as the message arrives on my Mac it is forwarded to my iPhone. I can deal with it from the iPhone if I like or wait until I get back to the office and deal with it on my Mac. This reduced my mail load on the iPhone from over a thousand messages a day to a more manageable 25 or 30 messages a day. 

In terms of the same or different apps, I'd say both. I love that I can sync my OmniFocus to do list, iCal calendars, and Address Book contacts between my iPhone and my Mac and use the same app in both places. But while I use Photoshop to edit images on my Mac, I don't usually use Photoshop Mobile to edit photos on my iPhone. Instead, I use whichever iPhone app is appropriate, be it Camera Genius, Photogene, Comic Touch, CameraBag, OldBoothPro, and so on. I don't use Yelp much on my Mac but use it all the time on my iPhone.   

Favorite apps. First, I use all the apps I've mentioned by name so far: OmniFocus, Camera Genius, Photogene, Comic Touch, CameraBag, and OldBooth Pro.

Speaking of OldBooth Pro, I have a fondness for apps that let me do silly things to photos of my friends and family, such as Comic Touch, OldBooth Pro, and Faces Wild. I use Jaadu VNC whenever I need something that's back at the office on my Mac. So, for example, if I was working on this reply to your email message but forgot to click the Send button, I can do that from anywhere on earth with Jaadu VNC. Here's what that looks like:

Jaadu1

Jaadu2

 

Another fave is the free ReQall app, which lets me create reminders by talking into my iPhone and have them translated into text and emailed to me (as well as appearing in the app and on my ReQall Web page). In the same vein I love using QuickVoice Pro (known as QuickVoice2Text Email PRO Recorder in the iTunes App Store). I speak for up to 30 seconds and it's translated to text and sent as an e-mail message (that also contains the audio recording, just in case the speech-to-text is garbled). Both apps do a remarkable job of understanding what I say and translating it into text. That's so cool. 

I get a big kick out of the I Am T-Pain app, which applies the AutoTune effect to your voice as you sing along with beats (or not). And I love RockBand for the iPhone. (And I'd love it a lot more if there were some Beatles tunes available for it -- I'd even pay!)  

I like Now Playing for getting movie times at our favorite theatre(s) and ordering tickets. 

And I think RedLaser, which scans barcodes while you're in a store and then searches for the item's price online. It doesn't work that well on small-ticket items but for we were shopping for a Weber Kettle BBQ it found 31 of them and could have saved me about $20. 

Finally, I find I get quite a bit of use out of AppBox Pro, which contains 16 different utilities including a battery life indicator, a level, currency converter, flashlight, price grabber, random number generator, sale price calculator, tip calculator, unit converter, and more. It cost $1.99 and replaced six or seven other apps on my iPhone. And because I'm always evaluating or reviewing apps, my iPhone is always full beyond the 11 screens. 

One last thing: Did you know you can have more than 180 apps on your iPhone? You can. Only the first 180 show up on the 11 screens, but if you check additional apps in iTunes to be installed, they'll be on your iPhone but hidden. Use the Spotlight search to find and use them. I'm not sure what the upper limit is but I've had well over 200 at times. 

John Martellaro

John Martellaro, TMO Senior Editor

My iPhone is a black, 16 GB iPhone 3GS. The case is currently a SafPWR X-type protective case with 1200 mAh external battery. I have a Power Support Anti-glare film on the face.

I don't try to use my iPhone as another Mac.  Instead, I use it as a portable extension of my Mac and a knowledge navigator. I have a single G-mail account on the iPhone, and I only use it for relaying photos or sending short messages when I'm on the move.  I don't receive my TMO mail there because I try to keep my work in my home office. Also, I don't want to clutter up the iPhone with thousands of spams, press releases, and business related e-mail.

I like Bob's idea (above) of setting up a special filter and forwarding of certain messages to the G-mail account. I might try that.

I don't use MobileMe for syncing.  When I connect my iPhone to my Mac to charge it, I sync contacts and calendars manually. I sync my calendars and contacts across Macs with SyncTogether from Mark/Space. I like that because it keeps my personal data out of the cloud and only on my LAN where it belongs.

There are enough songs, 679, and feature movies, 4, to keep me occupied in a dentist office waiting room.  I have some special playlists, like "Selected Purchased," on my Mac Pro which is just my favorite purchased music. And so when I sync my 3GS, it always picks up my latest additions. I've avoided the use of iTunes Helper -- having had problems in the past. I leave it uninstalled and sync manually.

The most valuable thing I do with the iPhone is navigate when I'm out and about.  That means finding places with Google Maps, checking interstate traffic conditions, checking snow conditions at the ski areas (Snow Report), finding restaurants (Urban Spoon), getting movie times (Now Playing) and of course, remembering where I parked my car (G-Park.) Actually, I seldom forget where my car is, but it's soooo much fun to pull up and impress friends, ski buddies, etc.

The second most common activity is checking on information, a movie character, a technical fact, a song, or something like that when eating out during a lunch or dinner conversation.  I love being able to pull out the iPhone, launch Safari, and look something up that's on the tip of my tongue, but just can't get a handle on.

Another thing I do is use the camera on the iPhone as a visual memory. In a bookstore, I'll photograph the cover of a book that I might want to buy later -- perhaps on Amazon Or when going for a walk, I'll see a service truck in a driveway, maybe a plumber, and I'll snap a photo of the truck with the company name and phone number -- for later reference. The camera in the iPhone is my "photographic memory."

There's little overlap between my iPhone apps and apps on the Mac, except Safari, and I don't find it to be a problem that I use Syrinx 2.2 for Twitter on the Mac and Twittelator Pro 3.3 on the iPhone. I use Voyager (Carina) for astronomy on the Mac, but Star Walk on the iPhone.  Each has its own strengths on each platform.

In general, I have a minimalist approach. There are 82 apps loaded.  I still have 5.8 GB free, and I'm seldom worried about storage space.  Instead, I use the iPhone as a knowledge and navigation tool via great apps, not as a mobile office. My MacBook Pro 15-inch (Unibody, G1) does the TMO heavy lifting each day in the office.

Favorite apps:

  • News:  NPR, USA Today
  • RSS: Not used on iPhone
  • Twitter: Twittelator Pro
  • Movie Times:  Now Playing
  • Calculator:  PCalc (the best RPN calculator for iPhone -- and Mac!)
  • VOIP: Skype for iPhone (With Skype Credit)
  • Weather:  The Weather Channel
  • Barometer & GPS:  Nav Clock
  • Astronomy:  Magic Hour, Star Walk,
  • Utility:  iStat
  • Entertainment: AOL Radio, TV.com
  • Game: Chess Pro
  • Encrypted Notes: mSecure
  • Music recognition: Shazam

_______________

Part I was published on November 10.

Sign Up for the Newsletter

Join the TMO Express Daily Newsletter to get the latest Mac headlines in your e-mail every weekday.

Comments

geoduck

It sounds like the phone on the iPhone is like the clock in my microwave. It’s there and works well but not the raison d’?tre.

iphonzie

Regarding mail/spam management for the phone?

I have a dedicated GMail account that is the only account my phone checks (via IMAP). I don’t give out that address, and don’t send mail from that address.

I used to have my Mac Mail.app forward desired emails to the gmail account, but that relied on my MacBook Pro being awake and online at all times, and having the Mail rules set up properly.

I’ve now set up my gmail to automatically check my other email accounts via POP, and set up filters in gmail to ensure I don’t get spam or bulk list mail that I don’t need on the phone. Whenever I start seeing mail I don’t want on the phone, I go to gmail and set up another filter. Works great for me.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I’m hoping to one day be able to order take-out from my favorite chain restaurants using my iPhone. For now though, it’s easier and faster to pull out the MBP to order Outback or Pickup Stix. Market opportunity alert.

Benoit

Regarding comparison shopping, pic2shop is a free barcode reader (works in real-time even on the iPhone 3G) that looks up online prices.

The barcode scanner is also available to developers who would like to include it in their own apps!

Log-in to comment