I finally succumbed to temptation and bought myself an iPhone and it seems that all my worrying about my hands and not being able to use it properly was almost entirely unnecessary. I thought about it a lot beforehand and ended up trusting that I have a knack for developing little tricks and methods of getting things done albeit in an unusual way. As an example, I initially found that I couldn’t text when I was in the back of the car because of the way I had to have my hands to hold the ‘phone upright, but if I held it sideways then it became a lot easier and it only took a short time to get used to using the onscreen keyboard that way.
Holding it to talk on is a lot easier than I thought it would be, too. I think when I tried Tugger’s iPhone back in November I was worried about dropping it and him murdering me, but after half an hour or so of getting to grips with mine it feels perfectly usuable and there’s no need for the Bluetooth headset I thought I was going to have to get.
It is more than fulfilling its main function as a photo and video showing off tool and it’s great to be able to hand it to people after showing them how easy it is to move from photo to photo with just a swipe of the screen. It’s surprising how many people automatically rotate the ‘phone to view pictures that are in landscape, too, without me even mentioning it.
It pleases me greatly to finally have a ‘phone that synchronises properly with my Mac and doesn’t do something annoying like convert an address to a note on the ‘phone and then copy it back to the Mac as a note so I have two copies of peoples’ addresses under their name … that sort of thing really pisses me off. And the address book photos are kept intact, too.
I’ve found a few applications that are rather handy to use (links point to the UK app store):
Banner Free – have yet to try it but the potential for ordering gin and tonic from far away is immense. Hopefully the upcoming non-free version will allow you to adjust the speed of the display;
Exposure – fits in well with the photo showing-off by allowing me to access my Flickr favourites too;
Koi Pond – a pond simulator that you can dip your hand into to make ripples in the water … pointless but strangely calming;
PhoneSaber – makes lightsaber noises as you swing your iPhone around (I managed to get it before it got taken down by Lucasarts pending an official version);
Super Monkey Ball – bought this mainly to show off the ‘phone but it’s quite good fun;
So overall I am very pleased with it if I ignore the lack of picture messaging (no great loss) and the lack of ‘phone-to-‘phone file transfer via Bluetooth (which is a glaring omission in my opinion). I get a good few days on a single charge with ‘push’ and 3G turned off (can’t get it where I live anyway) and most times I’m browsing or emailing I do so via my home wireless network and turn wifi on the iPhone on and off as needed, which is great as it’s only three clicks to do so. I’ve been getting a lot of cold bums during the day when I take the iPhone to the loo with me as I usually end up sitting there for twenty minutes or so browsing … oops.
And on the subject of browsing, I was quite chuffed that the only change I needed to make for this site to be viewable on the iPhone was to add <meta name="viewport" content="width=748"> to the head section — this makes the whole site readable in landscape mode and the main column readable when zoomed in portrait:
And finally, a tip for creating your own ringtones as they’re not available to buy in the UK at the moment:
Set your import setting to use the AAC encoder at 128kbps under the Advanced > Importing tab in iTunes preferences:
Find a suitable non-DRM track in your iTunes library (i.e. ripped or bought from iTunes Plus) and select an appropriate less-than-thirty-seconds section by setting the Start Time and Stop Time under the Options tab of the tracks information panel (right-click, select Get Info):
Right-click the track and select Convert Selection to AAC (ignore the Create Ringtone option!) and this will create a new track featuring the part of the track between the times you entered. Check the new track and, if it’s correct, you can change the original tracks Start Time and Stop Time back to their original settings — chances are you’ll just need to clear the checkboxes.
Drag the newly-created track out of the iTunes window and onto the desktop, check that it has been copied and then delete it from iTunes. Rename the file on the desktop by altering the extension from m4a to m4r and selecting Use .m4r from the inevitable Are you sure you want to change the extension from “.m4a” to “.m4r”? dialog box. Drag the file back into the iTunes window and it should appear under the Ringtones section:
Finally, make sure to remove any artwork stored with the ringtone (not the original track!) by deleting it from the Artwork tab in the Get Info window and you should have a working ringtone.
I’m fully aware that creating your own ringtones is technically illegal, but all my music is bought and paid for (apart from a sinlge track I can’t find anywhere on CD or for download) and I’m not about to have this super-duper ‘phone and use the crappy default ringtones.