It’s been a renaissance of sorts for me this past two weeks. I went from being an indifferent iPhone user to a lout who stares deeply into his iPhone at social gatherings or the department store or a restaurant. There’s something dangerous about this device.
For starters, I’m always on. I caught the news about Michael Jackson on Facebook on the iPhone (thanks, Genia), checked AP Mobile repeatedly for a sense of authenticity, sent private text messages on Textfree (so I don’t get charged) to buddies, and scanned for more rumors on TweetDeck.
Oh, and I read various personal email accounts over the iPhone for work-related stuff, such as sources sending me tips.
Now, after the Jackson buzz has subsided, I’m always on the iPhone checking into those apps—along with the NY Times, Wall Street Journal and AllThingsD—to make sure I don’t miss anything. It’s become an addiction.
I figured since I’m always staring into the darn thing, I might as well see if I can do part of my job on it. So I got Quickword to create and store Word docs, WordBook dictionary in part because copyeditors are rare these days, and Instapaper to capture stories for research on the Web and read them later.
(Copyeditors, of course, do more than spell check; as one irate reader of one of my recent stories pointed out to me the other day, “It’s not right of passage. It’s a rite of passage. Does anyone know how to write anymore? Please tell me some idiot editorial intern fresh out of high school made this error, and that it wasn’t you.” Mea culpa.)
Anyway, I imagine one day I’ll file stories straight from my iPhone. To do this at the base level, I’ll need a portable keyboard and Outlook for iPhone.
But I think I’m off to a good start with the apps. Here’s my top five so far, although I’m sure I’ll be adding more in the near future, say, tomorrow:
Twitter has become a reporter’s go-to app for trafficking in information. Not only can you broadcast stories to an opt-in readership, you get valuable tips and information. Truth is, I haven’t checked out all the Twitter apps for the iPhone yet. But TweetDeck works well enough on my laptop, and so I got the free iPhone version—which is virtually identical. I don’t even visit all the Apple sites anymore because I get their Twitter feeds.
All my editors and co-workers are on instant message, and so I need to be, too. AIM has push notification, which helps editors get their message to me quickly. The interface is great for carrying on a conversation. The $2.99 app says you can send an instant message to someone’s SMS number, but it doesn’t integrate with my contacts list. I’d rather send a text message via Textfree (if I’m connected to a wi-fi network).
I used to print out a dozen stories throughout the day so that I could read them on the BART train heading home. Now I just download them to the $4.99 Instapaper Pro app on the iPhone from the browser and read them offline in the Instapaper reader. You’ll have to register at Instapaper.com, but it’s free and easy. A similar iPhone app, called Read It Later, just hit the App Store, although I haven’t checked it out.
This app, which is on sale for $4.99, lets you create and edit Word docs, and email and transfer them over a Web browser. I bought only Quickword, but you can get the Quickoffice suite that includes Excel for $12.99. The folder system is pretty straightforward. The app works great, except for one problem: I can’t edit a Word doc created on my computer and transferred to my iPhone. I tried to write half of this story on my computer and the rest on my iPhone, but couldn’t. Perhaps I just don’t have the hang of it yet – at least, I hope that’s the case.
I’ve never been more fascinated by what my hundred or so friends on Facebook are doing because I’m checking their updates on my iPhone constantly. Facebook is an addiction, and the free iPhone Facebook app is the worst kind of enabler. You can’t scroll top stories and status updates indefinitely on the iPhone Facebook app, like you can over the browser, and so there’s a warped obsession to check it regularly.
And that’s the danger with the iPhone. People can contact you or feed you information in a number of ways. Reading articles and research materials is at your fingertips. The risk, of course, is that you’ll ignore the person right in front of you.
Games aside, what are your favorite iPhone apps? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or follow me on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline.