iPhone experience

Soon after I got my iPhone I realized it could change the way I organized my on-line life. I didn’t want everything in the iPhone, but did want everything accessible from it as well as from my Windows 7 and Ubuntu home and work computers. That meant many things had to be shifted to the “cloud” (on-line servers):

  • Email: I kept my existing Yahoo and Google accounts but changed my desktop POP accounts for them to IMAP. This way when a message is read or deleted on any machine, its status is reflected on all others.
  • Calendar, to-do lists, contacts: There are many of these, I finally decided on Google for these. Not the prettiest or most powerful interface on either desktop or iPhone, but the most universal supplier on the Internet. On the iPhone I use CalenGoo for the Google calendar, GeeTasks for Google tasks, and the basic iPhone contacts for Google contacts. NOTE: for the latter to work you have to set up your iPhone’s gmail account using these instructions (very non-obvious): http://support.google.com/mobile/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=138740
  • File, photo, notes, etc. sharing between devices: got free accounts for Dropbox and Evernote and their corresponding free iPhone apps.
  • Passwords: For some years I’ve used Passpack to safely create random passwords for every on-line account and store them in an encrypted pack on the Internet. The passwords are accessible through a web browser and they have a decent mobile web page for the iPhone. Similar features may be had through LastPass or less conveniently through mSecure.

That takes care of cloud-like apps. Others:

  • GPS: GPS Drive from MotionX has great voice directions, including streets, for just $20/year. A free voice direction GPS is MapQuest.
  • Beatthetraffic for good traffic congestion reports and displays.
  • Google Maps app for easy lookup of bus times…and for Davisites, DavisTrans and UCD Mobile for Unitrans bus schedules and actual bus locations.
  • Shopping: RedLaser for scanning bar codes in stores and getting on-line prices. Yelp and Urbanspoon for store/eatery recommendations on the fly. Newegg, eBay, Amazon, etc all have their own apps.
  • Tunes: TuneIn Radio for Internet radio stations. Pandora and Slacker for genre music. Shazam and Soundhound listen to a tune and tells you what it is.
  • Photos: The only app I use consistently is HDR Fusion, which provides true High Dynamic Range, better than the fake HDR of the iPhone 4.
  • Communication: TeamViewer works surprisingly well on the iPhone (remote login). Skype and the various messenger apps work well. Speed Test will test the speed of your connection, WiFi or 3G.
  • Reference: Wolfram|Alpha has an app. Howjsay for word pronunciation. Dictionary has definitions, thesaurus, rhyming. Wapedia and other apps for Wikipedia. Google Earth has an app. USPS and UPS have their apps or there are tracking apps that combine several mail services.
  • Handwritten notes and sketches: Note Taker by Dan Bricklin is nice but Touchwriter works with Evernote. There are lots of these on the App Store, I’m looking for a “better” one.
  • Geek stuff: All-In Pedometer counts your steps and distance. Sheet2 for a powerful spreadsheet, Excel compatible. SPL Meter for sound levels. RTA Lite for sound frequency spectrum. Clinometer for a level.

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