This is the first in what I hope will become a regular series of posts – the ‘A Day in The iPhone Life of …’ series. I’m a complete iPhone ‘apps junkie’ – so I am always fascinated to learn about how other people use their iPhone and all its great apps - which are their favorite apps, their biggest disappointments, which apps they use every day, and all that sort of thing. My hope is to talk to some notable iPhone users I know, or know of, on the web – people who are tech-savvy and who are iPhone power users, or iPhone devs, or just plain interesting folks who have embraced the iPhone.
I am delighted to say that for this first post in the series, Patrick Scoble has very kindly agreed to be my partner in chat. Patrick is the eldest son of Robert Scoble, probably the world’s best known tech blogger. Both of them are iPhone users, but Patrick is the real iPhone expert, as you’ll soon see below. My questions are in bold, Patrick’s answers in plain text. We did this interview via IM, so I’ve trimmed out most, but not quite all our little asides that did not relate directly to a question.
Ok, I get the impression you are the resident iPhone expert in the Scoble family - is that roughly correct?
Yeah, I like to think it is. I pay attention to all the rumors and other things revolving around the iPhone. My dad usually does not.
Which iPhone do you own, a 3G? And how long have you had one (I believe since Day 1 of first gen launch)?
We were first in line at the Palo Alto Apple store for the original launch, we were also 3rd in line at the San Francisco Apple store for the 3G this last summer. We might be back for this year’s launch too. I currently have a white iPhone 3G.
What smartphone (or dumb phone) did you use before the iPhone?
Actually the iPhone was my first real phone that I really used everyday. This was because it really is a phone that is just everything you need in one product. I was able to replace my phone and iPod with one device which was part of my reasoning behind going with the iPhone in the first place. I couldn't tell you what phone I used since I don't remember, but I can say I didn't use it all that much.
What's the first thing you usually do with the iPhone on a typical day?
The first thing? Well on usual days I might listen to music on my way to school or before class starts.
Via the iPod app or a 3rd party app?
Usually from the iPod app, although I've been known to use the Pandora app from time to time.
Cool - and do you use any iPhone apps to help with school work?
Well apps that are useful for school work are the basic calculator app, Wikipanion for research, and translator apps (such as "Free Translator" although there are others) can also help a bit in language classes. Although, I have to say I don't personally use my iPhone to help me with my school work as much as I could.
Favorite (3rd party) iPhone app of all-time? Most used? (if they're not the same)
Well, lets see here. It really is hard to say what is my personal favorite app as there are a lot of really great ones. Some ones that pop out are Vlingo, Tweetie, Facebook, and MySpace all are pretty well designed apps and ones that I use often. I'm not sure I really could pick out a specific app though, as all these apps really have become almost essential to how I use my iPhone.
Good answer - and great lead-in for next question. Name 3 apps (or more if you like) that you use just about every day
Oh, and just btw, I'm a big Tweetie fan as well - and I'm liking the new Mac version of it a lot too
Yeah I've heard of the desktop client I have yet to try it though. I'll make sure and check it out now.
Well no matter what comes out app-wise the iPod will always be my top most used app. Music has always been very important to me and I use that app everyday. Another set of apps that are important would probably be MySpace and Facebook (about equally) to get on my social networks, these have quickly became great ways to communicate with your friends and on a device like an iPhone that is especially important. The other app I use everyday is the browser, Safari, to get on the web and check out the different forums I take part in. Those couple apps are probably the ones I really use everyday and are especially important but there are a ton of other apps I use very frequently such as the phone (of course!), sms, and calendar apps.
Makes sense. How about a worst app you've ever downloaded? (free or paid)
Hmm that's another tough one just because, and I hate to say it, there are just so many apps that are just really not all that great. I've deleted most of the really poor ones and don't really remember them. I will say I was personally disgusted when that iFart app was at the #1 spot on the chart (I never downloaded it). It's sad to think that something like the App Store which can bring some really useful apps to the iPhone, can also bring things like that but, whatever, to each their own. The only app I have that I have regretted buying is the Star Wars game when it was first released I bought it for $10 only to find it wasn't that fun of a game and one with absolutely no replay value.
Yeah - what is popular in the App Store can be a little scary sometimes
Do you tend to run your phone stock or jailbroken?
I usually use it stock. I have jail broken my iPhones twice. Once, when I first bought the iPhone to check it out. At the time the developer ecosystem wasn't quite there yet and I restored it very fast. However, a couple months ago I jailbroke my 3G and found there to actually be some fairly useful things on there. However, I still only lasted about a week and a half before restoring. It just didn't add enough to the iPhone to justify it. I will say some of the themes I had were cool and using a tool like OpenSSH and creating your own theme and messing around with internal files on the iPhone was quite fun.
Do you keep your dad up to date on all the latest / greatest apps? Does he like a lot of the ones you recommend? Or has he ever recommended any real gems to you?
I'll recommend apps to him when I find something that is genuinely useful. However, we have two very different uses for our iPhones so not all apps I like will be a good match for him. He also recommends apps to me when he finds really good ones. He actually got me on Tweetie the first time a few months ago. I'm also now using the desktop client on my Mac per your recommendation and I'm enjoying it so far.
Oh, glad to hear it ref the desktop app.
Have you tried any of the 3.0 betas yet?
No I haven't. I'm not a developer so I feel that it isn't my responsibility to try it. I also don't feel like going through the trouble of pirating firmware that isn't complete yet. I am looking forward to getting my hands on it this summer though, and I'm also watching it's progress. It should be a good update.
What do you most want to see changed / added in a new model and / or the new OS version?
Well as far as hardware I think a scratch-resistant matte plastic backing might be nice, as well as a new camera with a better sensor and auto focus. Software wise they seem to be going down the right road with 3.0. I'd like so see a little more customization possible (backgrounds, icons, etc) I think that might be a neat feature, it definitely isn't a necessity though. Other than that I think I'll wait and see how things go with the new firmware and SDK before I say I want anything else.
Amen on the customization front! My biggest wish list item - which is not in the 3.0 betas yet - is some ability to arrange and manage apps / home screens in a much more clever way
Yeah customization would be nice.
Any favorite iPhone related sites / forums?
Well my favorite Mac related forum and website is Macrumors. Their Apple coverage is top notch and they have a very inviting and informational forum there. I've been visiting that site for several years now and always enjoy it. The only other site I can think of off the top of my head was one site that I also found useful when I was hacking my iPhone was hackthatphone.com. That site was a great help when jailbreaking and customizing my phone. For anyone looking to hack their phone or iPod I would send them there.
I’d like to say thanks to Robert Scoble, for helping me arrange this interview with Patrick. He really does pick up his cellphone, even on a weekend, and is happy to talk to random folks like me who know him via Twitter and Friendfeed and everywhere else he shares his thoughts these days. And a huge thanks to Patrick – for immediately agreeing to do this with me, for being big fun to talk to on these subjects, and for providing such great answers. I hope we might even do this again sometime with Patrick – maybe once Apple reveals its new model plans this summer.
Oh, and that is Patrick pictured at the top of this post, with his younger brother, Milan.
Thanks again Patrick …