January 05, 2009

iPhone Usefulness

For months, people have in conversation with me assumed that I have and use an iPhone. I am not typically an early adopter when it comes to computers and gadgets--it is among other advantages a way to keep my tech-lust in check. One question is whether the tool's usefulness justifies the cost it represents. We have just transitioned into iPhones for some of our staff, and after just one month, I can say that this smartphone has been an incredibly useful tool. I will offer more posts on my iPhone use in the future, but to demonstrate the iPhone's usefulness, let me summarize key advantages it leant today alone:

In addition to the standard Apps, I make use of other third party apps as well, including the note-taking service Jott, the excellent BibleReader, and the Melodis VoiceDialer. All of my Apps to date are free, though I'll soon experiment with some with the typical $1 to $5 cost. This morning in between services, a member asked about my availability for a meeting later in the week. This is always a problem for me, since it's easy to not have my calendar with me. I was in this instance able to quickly check my calendar and add the meeting. After the third service, our Hospitality Elder came to me asking if I knew where the camera was for taking the picture of the new family that had just joined. I did not, but I said, line them up and let's give this a try. I used the built-in camera which took a perfectly acceptable shot. And then, I quickly emailed the photo to the office so the secretary could process it appropriately for posting in the new member book. After services, I was in a conversation where we were discussing scheduling this Spring. The question came up about the school district's schedule. A quick jump onto Safari on my iPhone gave easy access to the district's school calendar and instant verification. At one point in at home after lunch, I determined to go make a hospital visit in 45 minutes or so, so set a quick timer to remind myself, lest I lose track of time playing with the kids or dozing off on the couch. I find the built-in Clock app to be superb for alarms and timers both. On the way to the hospital, it was incredibly easy to look up the hospital phone number using the Maps app. This gave me quick access to one touch dialing to call and get room numbers for those I was visiting. It also gave me access to turn by turn directions had I needed it (which I didn't). I thought it a good idea to write down the room numbers so I'd remember them while roaming the halls of the hospital once there. While visiting the two folks I went to see, I thought it appropriate to read them the Epiphany story, our text for the day. It was a joy to do it with the BibleReader app which I'm certain to post more about in the future. (Note that my copy of BibleReader is a beta version, containing Greek and Hebrew testaments, something I'll be showing soon.) After the visits, since I have imported the entire active church member directory into my contacts with a simple tab delimited file, it occurred to me to call one of the patient's families to give them a report on their beloved in the hospital. A simple voice dialer app works brilliantly, no voice training or presetting involved. I can speak any name and category (such as "home" or "mobile") found in my Contacts and it can autodial for me. Also on the trip back, my mind raced with a couple ToDo items to add to my list for the office tomorrow. The Jott app is a superb application that transcribes your voice into text notes and todos. I love how this thing works. I arrived at the office with a few idle minutes, so went straight to my todo list to get my head around what I might accomplish. I am keeping things in Jott, which also synchs with the web interface when at your desktop. But, there are many great (and some VERY fancy) ToDo List and productivity apps on the iPhone. One item on the list was something I could attend to with a phone call, so I made this call, and it's worth saying that I really like the Phone functionality on the iPhone. Lookup is easy. Recents perusal is well done, and Visual Voicemail is a godsend. During the call, we decided to move a later meeting in order to have the right people involved. So, I quickly sent an email out on the fly to the pertinent person involved in the meeting change. So, in summary, if the topic of the iPhone's usefulness carries an implied question, then for me, today, the obvious answer is a profound yes. Most of the tasks I mentioned I would have or at least could have accomplished with other means, but means that would not have been as seamless, as centered on one point of focus, an possibly not at all given barriers of not having tools ready to hand.

In one short month, I am very impressed.


Danny Zacharias said...

I totally agree, and it is good to point out that you can get almost all the functionality minus the cell phone on an iPod touch, which is what I use. Music is entirely secondary on my iPod touch. I have come to rely on it heavily and it has made my life a whole lot easier for the same reasons you've described

Dawn said...

I have never been a well-organized person, but the iPhone may change my life. It's amazing!

Rick said...

Great post, Joe. I downloaded the voice app based on your rec.

I've had the 3G since it came out, and I love it for many of the same reasons you listed, but also think that it is pretty sad that it doesn't do some very basic things that many other phones do.

I worked for AT&T/Cingular, and had used every smartphone/PDA that they came out with in the four years I was there. Both the Palm and Blackberry have some distinct advantages, though neither of them have a video/iPod option that is quite as nice (possible exception may be the new Storm with VZW).

Look forward to seeing some posts on the Olive Tree Greek/Hebrew stuff.