Sunday, December 28, 2008

iPhone: status update and my apps

Gear Diary made a list of the types of iPhone apps professional geek bloggers use. I have many of them, with the exception that Twitter isn't useful for me and I've only now trying to see if there's something useful about Facebook...
Gear Diary's Favorite iPhone/iPod Touch Apps |

On four different lists were:

ToDo [jf: Appigo]

On three of the lists are:
Twittelator Pro [jf: still trying to figure out a Twitter use case]
eWallet [jf I use 1Password]

And on two of the lists are:
Byline [jf: I use Google Reader]
Around Me [jf: I have Where To?]
My Apps are above, click to make 'em readable. This list, taken from iTunes, doesn't show my heavily used web apps (eg. Google Reader) and it includes a couple I no longer sync to the phone.

Google Reader is my favorite iPhone app - it's amazing. The Google Calendar app for our family calendar is another superb Google web app, then there's Google iPhone search, etc.

The games are for the kids (really) -- and they're invaluable in tight spots (my 9yo played one game during his flu immunization -- worked great).

So lots of good stuff there, but the bad news is that the iPhone sucks as a business tool.

I really thought it would be better than it is, but Apple has dropped the ball. No Calendar API to support over-the-air sync to Google Calendar, a complete lock-out on the cable which means corporate outlook calendars are a no-go [1], and, of course, no cut/copy/paste and truncation of longish notes/memos associated with contacts and calendars. (Oh, and I wish the phone had GPS compass capabilities, but that's a nice-to-have.)

I'm back to carrying around a very aged Palm PDA so I can get access to my corporate contacts and calendar. The only thing that saves Apple for me is that the alternatives are equally lousy.

[1] The only way to get a half-decent business access is to simultaneously use MobileMe for personal data (pathetic) and Exchange Server for corporate data (requires corporate IT approval -- fugget-about-it).

Update 1/5/09: A friend asked for some recommendations, so I've provided some more detail. Some of this duplicates my original post ...
1. Air Sharing: turns phone into webdav server -- store documents there.
2. Remote: control air tunes library
3. Google Mobile: many different web apps, Google Reader is essential
4. Google Earth
5. i41CX: HP 41 emulator - amazing
6. Evernote: take picture, it uploads, does OCR, indexes, store other data in cloud. Now acceptable since they've delivered a way to move data out.
7. AirMe: take picture, send Picasa web album
8. Notebook and Todo: Appigo "notes" and "tasks" management (these have a treacherous design flaw when used together however)
9. NYTimes reader: could be better, but still good
10. Pandora radio: explore music. Terrific.
11. Shazam: recognize music (best for pop though, fails with Jazz, classical.)
12 Wikipanion: great! Optimized Wikipedia client.
I don't have Byline but since it integrates with Google Reader I'm considering it.

Then there are the built-in apps. The huge issue with the iPhone now is the inability to sync directly, or even efficiently, with Google Calendar and the lack of a Calendar API. That's bad enough, but Apple's MobileMe alternative is awful. (Corporate sync is a MUCH harder problem). Eventually people are going to figure out how big a problem this is. (Vendors are starting to deliver entire calendaring/task solutions that completely ignore Apple's built-in solutions and that sync with Google -- but these will only be coming out in the next few months.)

The other big missing app, which I suspect is due to a nasty conflict of interests, is that Apple won't enable any effective instant messaging client -- in fact they have failed to deliver a promised 'push/notification' API so they're foreclosing that entire domain of apps. They want, of course, to keep the huge SMS revenue they share with AT&T.
Update 1/1/10: Jott is now trying to do automated transcription instead of human transcription - obviously to save money. It doesn't work at all for my voice. So Jott is really just a voice snippet recorder now.

1 comment:

Shawn said...

There are ways to sync w/ google calendar. I am. It's called nuevasync. Do a search, you'll find plenty.