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

As a Contributing Editor for The Mac Observer (and with the frequency of my posts lately, I use the word “contributing” loosely) I don’t get to participate in many of the staff conference calls that connect our various regional corporate offices. Still, the conversation about how TMO staffers use their iPhones intrigued me, so I thought I'd throw in a thought or two about how I use my own phone-cum-convergence device. 

What kind of iPhone and case do you have?
A 32GB black iPhone 3GS – an upgrade from my original (2G) 8GB iPhone. Most of the time, it’s encased in an Incipio Silicrylic case – a silicone case with a plastic shell that keeps the bulk at a minimum but makes it feel like my phone’s practically indestructible. (A theory I have no intention of testing.)

Is the iPhone a separate but equal computer for you?
One of the best things I’ve found about the iPhone is that it’s not really a separate device at all – it acts as an extension of not just my Mac at home, but of the accumulated knowledge of the human race. OK, that’s a bit hyperbolic, but that’s the way it feels. Before the iPhone came out, I wrote about the need for a “convergence device” – one that could be used away from my home Mac, but allowed me to access its power and functionality. The iPhone has very much become that convergence device for me. And that convergence has, well, converged even more over time, thanks in large part to the over-the-air synching capabilities rolled out via MobileMe and the speed of 3G networking.

If you use the iPhone in a fundamentally different way, how so?
For me, the big draw for the iPhone is that it lets me plug in to the Internet no matter where I happen to be. It’s not so much the power within the iPhone itself as it is the way it allows me to connect to information in all kinds of places – the web, the “cloud” and even my own Mac and home servers.

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?
Wait, there are apps for the Mac? In all seriousness, I can’t remember the last time I bought an app for my Mac. On the other hand, I buy (or at least download) apps for my iPhone almost every day. The iPhone apps I gravitate towards tend to allow me to hook into information: reference material, maps, books, videos, social networking sites, flight information, sites that allow me to control my home phone, my Mac at home, etc. And of course, there’s communication: Twitter, email, Facebook, instant messaging, posting blog entries, SMS…the list goes on and on. And I even discovered I can contact other people via audio chat. I think they call it a “phone.” It’s very handy!

What are some of your favorite iPhone apps and what do you use them for?
First and foremost are some of the bundled apps: Mail, Safari, Messages, Maps, iPod. I love the voice recognition of Google’s app. I love StarWalk – an astronomy program that uses the iPhone’s built-in compass to show you what’s in the part of the sky you’re viewing. I’m also a big fan of MotionX GPS, which turns your iPhone into a sophisticated GPS receiver, complete with waypoints, tracks and access to contour maps – great for hiking. The WordPress app makes it easy for me to post blog entries into many of the sites I run. I use iDisk and DropBox to access files on my Mac; Tweetie 2 to catch up on Twitter; Kindle and Stanza to read books while I’m waiting for a flight; Keynote Remote to run my presentations; PhoneAid so I have access to First Aid information should I ever need it; a slew of photography apps to enhance my iPhone photos; TripIt to keep track of my travel information; Urbanspoon to find places to eat that I’d never discover on my own while traveling; The New York Times and other news apps to keep informed on current events; and Orbital, X-Plane, Strategery, Texas Hold ‘Em and Scramble to keep me entertained when I have some downtime. 

The iPhone has become, without a doubt, my most-used piece of technology ever. I’ve even stopped taking my MacBook Pro with me on all but the longest trips – and even then, it sometimes never leaves my computer bag. Being able to watch movies on my iPhone during long flights instead of through a partially opened laptop is just wonderful. And with the 32 gigs of space, I always have a half-dozen movies or TV shows at the ready. I can’t imagine having to go without it anymore.

Interested in seeing how other TMO staff members use their iPhones? Check out parts I and II in John Martellaro's series.