Prior to Friday, July 18, 2008 I lived a sheltered and somewhat impoverished mobile phone life. Until that day, I had made do with various cell phones and phone-PDA combos (a.k.a. “bricks”), but on July 18 I ambled into an Apple Store to see if there were any iPhone 3Gs in stock. One must remember that here in the UK iPhone 3Gs were harder to come by in mid-July than George Bush supporters. Much to my surprise all variations of Apple’s newest family member were available! I hurriedly bought the white 16 GB version, lest it should sell out in the next four seconds.
When I purchased the 3G I was barely competent on my existing cell phone. By 8:21 pm that evening, I had mastered 85 percent of the smartest phone on the planet. Swiping, pinching, shaking, shimmying, tilting, and flicking were as natural to me as placing one foot in front of the other is to a two year old.
A succession of mobile phone firsts!
- 1st e-mail sent—to my good friend, and now fellow iPhone owner, Dave, regarding his Rio Karma music player.
- 1st YouTube video watched—while watching a re-run of “Juno” on the telly, I used the iPhone’s YouTube app to search for Superstar by Sonic Youth.
- 1st Web bookmark—Wikipedia; what else for the man always hungry for information?
- 1st Web App—the brilliant BBC iPlayer, which allows me to watch programs shown on the BBC. Programs are available 30 minutes after TV broadcast, and can be accessed for up to 7 days.
- 1st weather forecast—I checked the local weather in Pafos immediately after snapping the above mentioned 1st photo. It was hot; 40 C (104 F).
- 1st App downloaded from the iTunes App Store—Shazam, the popular music recognition tool and all-time number one friend of the Quiz Team.
Friends and associates were very interested in my iPhone. They played with it, fawned over it, or sat bemused by it. But strangely, no one showed the slightest interest in its call features. At times, I even forgot it had call features. The apps and Web-related features dominated our attention.
Going strong six months later
One of the primary reasons for its longevity is the iTunes App Store. I scour it every night for the latest must-have apps. After abandoning my last console, a Sega Genesis, I thought I was through with games. But titles like SimCity, Rolando, Virtual Pool, and Crash Kart have roused my interest again. The games are not only challenging, they are very easy to pick up and use.
Over the last six months I have looked on with a mixture of pride and bewilderment, as friends, colleagues, and family members have wrested control of my iPhone and used it to watch a train trip in Kizoom, fold in Texas Hold ‘Em, upload a photo in Facebook, and buy an item on eBay.
This last application is the one that sold my aforementioned friend Dave on the iPhone 3G.
Entertaining but effective; small but versatile
My life with the iPhone hasn’t been perfect. It does not have voice dialing capability (mildly annoying), I cannot shoot a video (quite annoying), and I cannot copy and paste text (most annoying). Hopefully, Mr. Jobs will supply us with these features one day.
For sheer usability the iPhone remains the benchmark for all smartphones. It switches between applications with elegance and clarity. It’s a clever but simple device, entertaining but effective, and small but versatile.