Scribbler in Seville

(Finally) converted to the cult of the iphone

After two years of deliberation over handset prices, different tariffs and networks, and wondering whether it was really just an overpriced triumph of design over content and style over substance, I finally have an iphone.

Yes, I know I’m very late to the party, as usual, but I’m glad I’ve arrived at last. So if, like me, you’re at some point on the scale – anywhere between vaguely considered getting one, and very nearly convinced, my assessment might help steer you in the right direction.

Nearly two years ago at a brainstorming day hosted by the website I write for, I was bemused by all the young bloods yapping on about their “apps” (applications) and how things were going “viral”. I was already using Twitter and Facebook, but an iphone wasn’t on my agenda.

As my phone package at the time didn’t include internet, it cost me a fortune to use Twitter when I was about and about, which killed the effect. No smart phone antics for me.

Twitter is supposed to be about what you’re doing and thinking now, at the moment. You can’t be spontaneous a couple of hours later.

One of the main sticking points for me was that iphones cost upwards of 170 euros, a price I can’t justify for something that isn’t essential. Nice-looking, fun, useful, yes; essential, no. Feeling out-of-touch at staff brainstorming sessions was annoying, and reading articles about the latest/best apps was niggling, but I could live with it.

I haven’t actually paid for a phone in years – just go for the free upgrades.

Then, seeing that a new model (the iphone 4S) was due out soon, I decided to shop about – the existing model would plummet in value once it was upstaged by the latest number. No, still too pricey. I was about to give up.

Then one provider made me an offer I couldn’t refuse – a free iphone (4).

I was delighted, and felt very smug that I had held out that long, to be rewarded with the ultimate prize. It was worth all those years of being uncool,  behind-the-times, a troglodyte.

Apart from a panic yesterday when I couldn’t work out why the phone didn’t ring when someone was calling me (I had switched on silent without realising – had no idea there even was a silent button), it’s been plain sailing. Easy to set up and connect, though passwords are always a nightmare and I’ve already had to reset them several times after forgetting or getting muddled (how many frigging passwords do we have to have these days?). I’ve even got some apps, though I’m sure I’ll be getting more – there are 500,000 in Apple’s official App Store.

Things I love:

New emails and twitter alerts pinging up on screen, even when it’s locked. Anything that saves time and effort is great by me.

Using it as a music player. My beloved WIFI radio has gone on the blink, which is a disaster, as I can’t cook without background noise (and I don’t mean children talking, singing and crying), so I made dinner to the sounds of the Chemical Brothers and Massive Attack from my itunes playlist. My daughter dancing to the music as I cooked was a bonus.

I normally don’t care about ring tunes, but they kept the kids entertained for a good few hours this afternoon, especially bark, duck, motorbike and (the favourite) robot.

The map/GPS. I’ve never been a dot moving along a street on a map before, and I rather like it. The novelty will probably wear off soon, and I’ll start to finding it creepy and Big Brother-ish. Again, will also amuse children. I belive there are many travel apps which will be good for keeping them happy on journeys, too.

The multiple alarm/reminder options. I write everything on the back of my hand, but now it’s all listed neatly, complete with reminders and different alarm tones. (Yes, I am that sad. But it’s much more fun for my son to take his medicine when he’s reminded to do so by a robot, rather than by boring old Mum.)

Some apps I’ve got (apart from the essential Facebook and Twitter):

BBC News
Guardian
Olive Press, an expat newspaper for southern Spain which I used to write for.
El Pais
Canal Sur radio
Diario de Sevilla
Feria de Abril
What’s App – a message service for people with iphones and other i-machines.
Another camera, with a zoom. (I’m also considering Hipstamatic after seeing friends’ super-cool photos taken using it.)
Torch – don’t laugh – handy in a power cut, and for writing notes in a cinema or theatre.
Twittelator – recommended, haven’t tried it out yet.
Weather + (Not worth it, the basic one is better.)

No games or fun stuff yet. Plenty of time for that.

Less keen on:

No search facility in contact book. My old Nokia had that – names are stored by surname, and as I can never remember anyone’s surname, it can take a few minutes of scrolling before I find the person I’m looking for.

Moving between web pages. I’m probably missing something embarrassingly obvious, like the silent switch, but I haven’t yet worked out how to get back to a site I’ve just looked at. On my Nokia, you could have several pages open at the same time, and switch between them.

Not being able to correct an individual letter of a word – the cursor doesn’t let you move through a word letter by letter. How annoying is it having to type out the whole word again every time? Ah, I hear you iphone users say, but what about…

Predictive text. The iphone’s predictive text is the most barmy and random one I’ve ever seen. Avoid (though it’s so mad, it is quite funny).

No doubt at the next meeting, in a few weeks, the tech-whizzes will have moved onto some other must-have gadget/network/social media, and I’ll be left one step behind again. But I’m going to mug up on my apps anyway, just to show them I’m not totally clueless. There’s life in this aging iphoner yet.

If you’ve got an iphone, what apps do you use? Or quick tips or shortcuts? Go, on spill.

22 thoughts on “(Finally) converted to the cult of the iphone

  1. azahar

    C’mon over one morning for an iPhone “class” if you like.

    When you open a website there are arrows at the bottom of the page to go back and forth, or you can click on the page icon (right hand side) to see all pages you have open. You can have up to eight open at a time.

    Re: contact book. I write the surnames in the same line as the first name, then they are all listed by first name.

    Re: kids. Get Angry Birds. Hours of mindless entertainment there. Me, I’m hooked on Scrabble.

    1. Fiona Flores Watson

      Thanks for all your tips and suggestions. I knew about the arrows at bottom of page, but hadn’t quite sussed page icon.

      Re contact book, good idea, but can’t be arsed, as all names loaded automatically from hotmail in the first name/surname format.

      Will check out angry birds, and Scrabble sounds tempting.

        1. Fiona Flores Watson

          Thanks very much for recommending this app to me – it was a lifesaver this morning when my son, who is off school sick, had to come with me to an appointment – it kept him happy (ie quiet), and practising his writing, for half an hour! I love things which have educational value, as well as keeping them entertained! A top recommendation.

  2. K. Emily Bond (@digamama)

    Not sure if you’ve updated your App list yet, but you will love: Wunderlist, Evernote and Instamatic.

    I’m in love the iPhone!

    Last night Robert was like, “what are you doing with that thing?” I’d been sitting on the sofa for nearly 2 hours keying stuff into my latest obsession (the YNAB app).

  3. Sam Pitcher

    If you want an addictive but stylish waste of time on your phone, try Fashion Story. Create your own boutique, stock it, and watch robotic fashionistas zip in and out of the dressing rooms.

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  5. azahar

    One other amazing app is Shazam. Incredible. You’re out somewhere or listening to the radio at home and a song comes on you want to know the name of… let Shazam listen for thirty seconds and you get the name of the song and artist.

    I used it once in a store that was playing a song I LOVED but for the life of me I couldn’t remember what it was. Pulled out Shazam and – shazam! – got the title and artist and could rest easy.

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