Apple Inc.'s iPhone 3G has done for mobile communication what Michael Phelps has
done for swimming - impressed a style so deeply on global consciousness that
it'll be difficult to imagine other options, at least for a while.
After five weeks or thereabouts with the 3G model, I'm still impressed: this is a
powerful little device, capable of doing a heck of a lot of things, and it does this
in a small, sleek package that's easy to operate.
The continued enthusiasm for the iPhone should signal something to device makers all
over. Call if a modified "Field of Dreams" approach: if you built it right, the
customers will come.
Among the nice features of the new device is its ability to load third-party
applications, which makes the iPhone more like a miniature computer than just a
phone. The applications vary in price from free to just under $1,000, though the
latter is an anomaly. Most iPhone programs are quite reasonably priced.
The delivery system for these apps is quite smart: you buy them through Apple's
iTunes store, which then stores the programs on your computer and loads them on your
One very useful application is "Mobile News," a free newsreader from the
Associated Press wire service. This will give you a quick read on the latest
headlines and, if you enter a desired ZIP Code, a feed of state news.
Other applications are a bit more specialized: those of a theological inclination
will appreciate BibleXPress, which stores the texts of various Bible
translations on the iPhone, and makes them accessible without a live Internet
connection. This saves battery power and makes the text more accessible in more
places. Three major English-language translations, and one in Spanish, are currently
supplied; the program's author says he'll attempt to add more in the future.
Among the many nice attributes of the program is an easy way to make the type larger
- just swipe two fingers apart on the screen display and the lettering enlarges.
Those readers who wear progressive lenses will appreciate that feature. The $30 cost
covers the licensing fees for some of the translations, and it's cheaper than
buying the four Bibles in printed versions.
I'm also jazzed about the "Remote" application, which lets the iPhone serve as
a remote control for an Apple TV or a Mac running iTunes. Yes, you can do the same
thing with the remotes Apple ships with the product, but this is a nice touch. Ditto
for Facebook's iPhone application, which is about to get a refresh: it's a handy
way to stay on top of your social network while on the go.
There is the question of iPhone audio - do you really want to share your music
with your neighbors on the Metro in the morning? I'm very, very high on the
super.fi 4vi headphones from Ultimate Ears, the firm just acquired by
Logitech. The sound quality - and noise isolation - is amazing. You can truly
"drop out" from the world around you with these headphones and just enjoy the
music or video on your iPhone. I'm using them as I write this and it's just
At $149.99, these headphones are almost as costly as the iPhone itself, but a few
minutes with them will convince you that they are essential for long road trips. The
headphones will also let you place and receive voice calls, and with very good
quality. Look at it this way: the price is probably less than you'd spent on a
fine in the District of Columbia for driving and using your phone without a headset.
You can learn about this product at http://www.ultimateears.com/, and it's a firm
well worth checking out.