What’s on my iPhone: my vital apps

Following on from my recent post attacking my iPad, I thought I would write a post on my iPhone – and how/why it is the single most important weapon in my tech arsenal.

I rely on my iPhone 3GS daily for pretty much everything. It is invaluable daily and essential when traveling. The iOS 4 update a few months ago suddenly made it even more compelling.

I thought it would be interesting to share with readers what sits on my number 1 screen and why.

1) The folders

There’s no way I can go into detail about each individual folder, but logically each folder is labeled according to function. All the folders lucky enough to sit on screen 1 are there for a reason. I’ll start with highlighting a few apps that sit in the folders which I depend on. First up ‘SlingPlayer’. My client software into the world of SlingBox. Secondly , within my productivity folder  is a scanning app known as Jot Note Scanner . Essentially, a tool that enables me to scan in any document (via the camera and the clever software) and upload to a number of cloud services. I have found this a vital workflow app and I use it daily to throw documents into my Evernote account. It pretty much handles all documents from images to receipts.

2) Apps (outside the folders)

Basically, all the apps that sit outside my folders are there for a reason. I depend on them constantly. Mail, email – obviously. Messages, SMS messages – obviously.

What’sApp is an incredible app. It enables you to SMS/picture message friends using the application. It’s also cross platform, working on Blackberry and at beta stage on Symbian. This also completely eliminated the need to send out pricey SMS messages to friends and family overseas.

Next up is Evernote . I upgraded to the premium service – so I can access my notes offline (great when traveling or without access to the web). The evernote concept is basically cloud computing. However, through its multi-platform applications it means you are never far away from your data. So for example, stuff I throw into it from my iPhone syncs up with their cloud service and is available on my other computers instantly.

3) The dock

Moving further down into the dock you will see the phone app (although these days I hardly use it). I pretty much use Twitter exclusively as my social network of choice – so the Twitter app was a no brainer. Skype is there too. I have posted a number of times concerning Skype. So no need to say anymore. However, I will add that iOS4 has really transformed my use of Skype. Essentially, I leave it on 24/7 (battery permitting). A critical app for me – given I am overseas. Not only does it eliminate the need to use the landline for calls – but I have the SkypeIn package. I still cannot believe that for around £4 per month, I get a London telephone number and can make unlimited calls to UK landlines.

4) Other contenders

Multi-tasking has also helped in quickly accessing other apps which I frequently use. One of those apps I use daily is TuneIn Radio .  I love radio, and have tested most of the radio apps in the Apps Store. However, this is the one I always return to. Not only does it have an elegant user interface – but accessing global radio stations is simple. The ability to schedule alarms and record shows also make this a killer app for me.

It also goes without saying that I still use the default iPod app. I consume all my podcasts, music and  AudioBooks via the app. However, I still maintain that Apple need to improve this key app. When traveling (without a laptop) keeping up to speed with my favourite podcasts is not easy. What Apple need to do is provide a simple way of automating podcast updates through this app. This is a big frustration for me – and I think Apple need to do something major to move us away from the tethered sync and go approach.

Also worth plugging the Kindle App too. I don’t read as much as I should. But being able to purchase Kindle books via Amazon and have them auto-sync to my iPhone and iPad is amazing. Sure, Apples’ iBook store can do something similar. But I feel much more comfortable with buying books through Amazon. It gives me more flexibility should I ever decide to ditch the iPad and get a Kindle 3 .

Last up I wanted to mention the travel folder I have. I don’t use this folder daily, but some of the apps in there are worth mentioning. First up is the Tripit app. When traveling I simply forward on travel reservations etc.. to my tripit account and they appear in this application in an elegant itinerary format. Second up, is Navigon . In my view this sat-nav app has the edge over  Tomtom. I use it when I’m back in the UK.

As much as I am frustrated with Apple these days, I have to give them full credit for the iPhone. I have been a user since the second generation, 3G and still enjoying it as much as I did when I first got it.  I have toyed with ditching the platform for a decent Android phone. But, until Android scales up the quality of its Market Place apps, I cannot see myself going anywhere else (except the iPhone 4 of course).

Tech trends 2009

As we head towards a new year I wanted to share my thoughts on some of the key tech trends for 2009.

1) Apple ripens

The phenomenal growth at Apple will slow down. 2009 will be ‘evolution’ rather than ‘revolution’ across all their product lines. I do not think there will be a big splash product this year. There will likely be ;

  • updates to the Mac Mini, 
  • new iPhone Nano
  • a revised iphone , up to 32GB

There is talk of a new media server from Apple.  This would logically fit into their line up. I suspect it will be more of a product evolution based on the Time Machine . Expect this annoucement in next weeks MacWorld.  

Despite  Steve Job’s resistence, I do believe they will launch some kind of netbook, combining touch technology and the Macbook. The market is growing in the netbook sector and Apple will want a piece of it. 

2) Low cost computing

UMPCs and netbook sales will continue to grow for two reasons. Firstly, as global economic difficulties continue, there will be less disposible income floating around for consumer IT.  Secondly, the growth of cloud computing will change the consumers need for power hungry top spec computers. 

3) Social Networking  matures 

In a similar vein to Apple’s evolutionary steps in 2009, I believe that social networking sites will continue to grow and mature towards the end of the year. Like any market, expect 2009 to see some of the smaller sites go under, as  the users decide what works and what does not.  

Services that aggrogate the numerous social networking sites will be the winners in 2009. For example, Friendfeed.com will have a good year. 

3) Twitter, Twitter & Twitter

Yes, I know ,Twitter is strictly speaking a social networking site. But I believe it warrants its own catergory. Despite the discussions about Twitter’s lack of a business model it will see huge growth in the market next year.  By the end of the year it will  be as widely known as Facebook.

Growth for all the social networking sites will be increasingly sustained by the mobile market. The success of the iPhone and other mobile devices will shift users of these networks away from their desktops and to their mobiles. Expect the big winners to be the smaller app developers of clients based on Twitter’s APIs. 

4) Linux in our lives

Embedded linux will continue to grow in a host of consumer electronics .  Google’s Linux based Android OS will be widely used in smartphone handsets and Palms new Linux based OS, Nova, will hit the market.

Ubuntu linux will continue to grow both in terms of new products but also installed on legacy products – giving a new lease of life to older hardware.  

Outside bets

5) As a Mac fan it pains me to say it -but I predict the retirement of Steve Jobs as CEO of Apple. I think, in a similar approach to Bill Gates, Jobs will remain part of Apple – but his day to day role will change. 

6) A good year for Microsoft. Yes I said it.  To dismiss Redmond is foolish. Microsoft tend to be at their best when they are behind the curve. And they certainly are at the moment. But they learn from their mistakes (Vista) and the successes of others (Apple and Google ). They got their fingers burnt from Vista and will put it right in Windows 7. Expect a much more elegant, lighter and cheaper OS from them this year.

Will that completes my predictions.  Happy New Year.

New Apple Notebooks next Tuesday 14 October

It would seem that the latest rumours of a new Apple notebook line up are true.

For the best part of this week a series of leaked photos have made their way to Engadget and others claiming to be genuine images of a radical new notebook. Labled ‘the brick’ , not due to it’s design, but rather describes a new Apple patented manufacturing process.

Apparently, each new notebook is ‘crafted’ out of a single brick of alluminum. Rumour has it , this process does away for the need for screws and hinges.

An additional rumour is that the two different apple notebook lines ‘pro’ and regular macbooks will be unified as one line up.

An invitation from Apple inviting journalists to a major notebook annouement next Tuesday 14 October has been released.

It’s about time Apple focus on their notebooks. I for one can’t wait. Roll on next Tuesday.

Blogging from my iphone

I have been playing around with various platforms for my blog. Initially I used WordPress, then played around with iWeb, for integration with my Apple ecosystem.

However, ironically it would seem that the WordPress App on my iPhone makes blogging a breeze on the move.

So I think I might stick around with WordPress for a while. Besides more importanly I really like the open standards and various web 2.0 plugins.

Internet in your pocket?! I prefer a wireless router in mine

 

So the entire western world is gearing itself up for iDay 2.0 this Friday. 

I have read reports that in the UK the 02 pre-ordering fiasco for iPhone 3g averaged a staggering 13,000 orders in the three hours before their servers crashed and burned under demand. Queues have been building up at the New York Apple Store for a week now; and Apple fan boys and girls have successful lobbied Rogers in Canada to give them more data for their price plans. There can be no doubt that this iPhone will sell. And sell fast. 

Over the next few days we can expect the blogosphere, podcasters and traditional media to kick into overdrive to report on the iPhone 2.0. 

My views on the iPhone have not changed. I do admire it. I do believe it has the potential to change the market. But in additional to all my praise my overriding  criticisms remain. In a nutshell the iPhone still lacks in too many key areas for me. 

 

Wireless router to go 

A few weeks ago I posted about Joikulight. To recap, Joiku enables you to turn your Symbian S60 cellphone into a fully functional wifi router. In tech speak it effectively creates an ad-hoc network. I have been testing Joiku over the last few weeks now and can report that this really is a ground breaking app. Since my last post they have now released Joiku Premium . This paid for version ( €12 ) gives you a host of additional features such as, removing the splash screen when you connect to the Joiku wireless network and the ability to fully customise your SSID (name of your wifi network). You can also connect to imap / pop3 email too. 

Why this matters

Put simply – I now have the web pretty much anywhere I want, when I want and the flexibility of connecting any device(s) to the network. 

So as iPhones fly out of the stores on Friday, I can rest assured knowing my Nokia E90 not only meets my geeky requirements but exceeds iPhone 2.0 in almost almost every aspect of functionality. 

But I still have an itch to scratch. I want to enjoy the elegance of the iPhone 2.0 user interface and play with the host of new apps that will be available through the new Apps Store. So what do I do. Simple :

E90 (running Joiku) + ipod Touch = geek heaven. 

The best of both worlds. 

3G iPhone – wdc launch?

As we head towards another ‘jobsnote’ at the next Apple World Developer’s Conference (June 9-13) rumours are abound about a possible 3G iPhone launch. According to reports it will have 3G along with GPS.I have not read anything about video conferencing (or perhaps iChat support) yet, but no doubt it will. By all accounts this really does look like the iPhone that will take over the cellphone industry. 

 

My only gripe…….please please please Apple make this sim free. Most of your loyal customers would be willing to pay a high price for a phone that can accept any sim card.  I understand that a lock in with 02 is lucrative for both parties – but it is the customer who ultimately suffers. Apple are correct when they claim to be reinventing the mobile phone. However, Apple, please go that little bit further and reinvent how we access the airwaves. You have the potential to change the game.

There can be no doubt that Apple’s SDK release for the iPhone / iPod touch is big. No, massive. Apart from the obvious benefits to consumers (third party apps coming in June), the SDK is a game changer for developers.

There can be no doubt that Apple’s SDK release for the iPhone / iPod touch is big. No, massive. Apart from the obvious benefits to consumers (third party apps coming in June), the SDK is a game changer for developers. 

 

In my view the biggest news was not so much the SDK itself but the incentives that will attract new and old developers to it. There are two incentives which, will guarantee an array of quality  developers:

 

  1. 1.   The 70/30 Developer/Apple ratio for sales of third party apps through iTunes.

  2. 2.   The iFund provided by KPCB to invest in fund-market changing ideas for the iPhone/touch     platform.

 

With more and better developers switching to iPhone/touch development, they are, in effect, developing software within Apple’s OS X Cocoa framework. So a bunch of developers, producing excellent software within the Cocoa environment. Let the iPhone SDK ‘halo effect’ begin. 

 

It would seem that the SDK might just be the development platform that takes OS X to the next level.