Like thousands of New Yorkers, I spent about 5 hours waiting in line a year ago to buy Apple’s (AAPL) then-new iPhone 3G. Since then, the iPhone has changed the way I work and play more than any other gadget I’ve ever purchased — mostly for the better.
The biggest difference between the iPhone and previous mobile devices I’ve owned — Palm Treo, Dell Axim, Palm V, various Sony Ericsson and Nokia mobile phones — is the sheer amount of time I spend using it: At least a few hours a day, Monday through Sunday.
And much of the time I spend using it is via third-party apps in Apple’s iPhone App Store. (Smart move on Apple’s part, that App Store.)
For example, I’m glued to Major League Baseball’s At Bat app, which has helped me keep up with the Chicago Cubs from hundreds of miles away, via live radio streams, real-time stats and highlight videos, and once in a while, live-game TV streams. Nothing short of amazing — and an early glimpse at an exciting part of the future of television.
My iPhone has also effectively killed my Nintendo Wii. I’d never been much of a gamer until the iPhone, which allows me to play inexpensive casual games — with good graphics — anywhere, without carrying a separate gaming device around. The only time I’ve turned my Wii on since I got my iPhone was to make sure it worked after I moved apartments. In the meantime, I’ve landed 12,700 tiny planes in a game called “Flight Control.” I’ve rediscovered childhood Mario-on-Game Boy joy via a game called “Rolando.” And I’ve even gotten pretty good at Gameloft’s soccer game.
And I’m reading more! Thanks to Amazon’s Kindle app, which has allowed me to read two long books in my rare spare time, something I would not have been able to do otherwise, and Instapaper Pro, an app that lets me save blog posts and magazine articles from my computer’s Web browser to read later on my iPhone.
Meanwhile, the iPhone has also changed my social interaction — not necessarily for the better.
Because there’s always a distraction a tap away, I find myself, er, distracted more often. That’s led to more than a few stern talking-tos from friends, companions, and parents, wondering why I can’t go an hour without doing something on the iPhone… at the dinner table, a bar, a baseball game, or even on vacation. (See photo above from recent trip to the Galapagos Islands.)
At some point, “product testing!” will no longer be a good excuse. But I’m trying…
So, is all of this stuff exclusive to the iPhone? Would my life be just as “changed” with a new BlackBerry or a Palm Pre? Yes and no.
Other manufacturers are catching up — improving their user interfaces, application platforms, and gaming experiences to catch up with Apple’s. Certainly Microsoft, Google, Sony, and others haven’t shown us their last tries. But no one’s been able to catch the iPhone yet. So for now, I’m staying put.
The first feature I came to love on the iPhone is that it's really the only device I need to carry around most days. Some days, it's enough to make a difference in whether or not I need to bring a bag with me.
No more iPod to listen to music, no more laptop to check email or visit a Web page, no more note pad to write down a few sentences at meetings, no more magazines to read on the train, no more digital camera for everyday snapshots, and no more watch.
Goodness, I've become one of those people who talks into their headphones while walking down the street.
Lucky, a bit less conspicuous, via the Etymotic Research earbuds I upgraded to. But still, a little embarrassing.
My last phone, the Palm Treo, had Google Maps, so I was able to manually type in my location, figure out where I was going, etc.
But the combination of Apple's superior Maps app, the phone's built-in location feature, and Google's new public transit directions have made me an even better navigator, pretty much anywhere. It's made getting around New York easier, and unfamiliar cities like San Francisco a breeze.
Thanks for the iPhone's wi-fi feature, it's a useful mobile Internet device overseas -- without ripoff data roaming charges, or needing sometimes-sketchy Internet cafes.
For instance, on a recent trip to South America, I used the iPhone to look up maps and directions in Lima, take a picture at Machu Picchu to upload later to Facebook, read up on tourism in Guayaquil, and read a few Kindle chapters in between.
Because there's always a distraction a tap away, I find myself, er, distracted more often.
That's led to more than a few stern talking-tos from friends, companions, and parents, wondering why I can't go an hour without doing something on the iPhone... at the dinner table, a bar, a baseball game, wherever.
AT&T's service has been so spotty in New York that I've often wondered why I keep paying my bill. Slow Web pages, dropped calls, rejected text messages, etc.
The good news is that the company is supposedly making changes to offer better service, by using more wireless spectrum for 3G data. Still, a disappointing year.
I'm glued to Major League Baseball's At Bat app, which has helped me keep up with the Chicago Cubs from hundreds of miles away, via live radio streams, real-time stats and highlight videos, and once in a while, live-game TV streams.
Nothing short of amazing, and no AA radio batteries to replace.
Low battery warnings are something I have to deal with more than I'd like, and in several occasions, I've been left inconveniently phoneless.
I'm considering buying a backup battery like the Richard Solo. But for now, I keep an extra charger at work... and try to budget my time on long days.
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