No matter how easy it is to use the iPhone or iPod touch, you'll inevitably run into something you don't understand. No matter hfow capable it is, you'll eventually want to do more with it. Fortunately, there are plenty of online resources for the iPhone and iPod that provide advice, answer questions, and pofint you in the direction of accessories, software, ringtones, wallpaper, and more.
To help you find what you need, I've put together a list of some of the best iPhone-related resources available, which you'll finfd on the Smartphone magazine Web site (smartphonemag.com/cms/iphone/bestsites). I've also put together a list of free resources that work on any phone (smartphonemag.com/best phoneresources.asp).
Free iPhone eBooks from iLounge
One of the major portals for iPhone users is iLounge (ilounge.com), which bills itself as "All things iPod, iPhone, iTunes and beyond." The site had over 135,000 members as of mid-June, and features news, reviews, forums, free music downloads, and help. iLounge offers two major downloadable resources for free, both available at ilounge.com/index.php/library:
The Free iPod + iPhone Book 4: This is a 268-page book published in early June in PDF format that helps you do almost everything with your iPhone and iPod. Topics include connecting to youfr computer, putting music on your device, games, videos, travel goodies, customization, protection, and much more. There is also a listing of 1,800 products, all of them rated. Another major section titled "150 iTunes Answers" offers tips for mastering iTunes.
The 2008 iPod + iPhone Buyer's Guide: This 132-page book in PDF format, published Nov. 1, 2007, lists 1,500 products. It also highlights the 18 that won iLounge's annual Best of the Year Awards. And it gives sneak peaks at 20 new products.
Both PDF files are available in two versions, one suitable for printing and the other suited for viewing on your computer screen.
News, Blogs, and Podcasts
The Unofficial Apple Weblog (tuaw.com/category/iphone) is one of the more active blogs, with frequent posts and many comments on each post. The URL above is the iPhone section of this Apple-related site.
The iPhone Blog (theiphoneblog.com) is quite active in terms of posts and comments. It also publishes regular podcasts as well as reviews and forums.
iPhone Alley (iphonealley.com) offers news, reviews, and a regular podcast from Michael Johnston, the site's founder.
The new iTunes store offering standalone applications for the iPhone OS 2.0 wasn't available when I wrote this article. When it's finally online, it promises to be a trove of resources for iPhone users. However, there are many excellent Web applications currently available, which work within the Safari browser. Most are free; all require that you navigate to a particular Web site to run them in your browser.
iLounge (ilounge.com/index.php/software/iphone), iPhone Application List (iphoneapplica tionlist.com), and the Apple Web site (apple.com/webapps) offer excellent directories of iPhone and iPod touch Web applications. These range from games to music & video to social networking to business & finance.
While the iPhone is easy to use, you still may have some questions or run into glitches. Fortunately, there's a wealth of online support sites that provide tutorials, tips, discussion groups, and more.
The Apple Web site (apple.com/ support/iphone) offers an extensive repository of how-to's related to all aspects of the iPhone, from basics, such as changing the battery to more advanced topics, such as activating and syncing the device, accessing voicemail, and more. There's also a section to help you troubleshoot problems.
Apple's forums (discussions.apple. com) are extremely active, with literally millions of posts and many users standing by to help answer your questions.
iLounge (ilounge.com/index.php/help) also has a good help section, which includes Frequently Asked Questions, Tutorials, and Ask iLounge. The tutorials include "The Complete Guide to iPhone Car Integration" and "Ten Step Guide to (creating) iPhone Custom Ringtones (using) GarageBand ‘08."
These are some of the better iPhone-related Web sites and resources on the Internet. Smartphone magazine's Best iPhone Web Sites directory (smartphonemag.com/cms/iphone/bestsites) lists many more sites, including the official carrier sites, sites with wallpapers, sources for accessories, and international sites.
Useful and Free general Phone Resources
In addition to the before mentioned resources, there are quite a number of extraordinary free services available for your phone—any phone. Our Best Free Phone Resources directory (smartphonemag.com/bestphone resources) will help you find them. Below are some of the best services listed in the directory.
Google 411 Dial 800-466-4411 (800-GOOG-411) and say the location and type of business, and Google 411 will present you with a number of choices. You select the one you want, And Google will connect you. Say "text message" or "map it," and you'll receive a text message with more details and a map.
Live Search 411 Dial 800-225-5411 (800 CALL-411) and say the city and state, then ask for the business or business category (e.g., "Chinese restaurant"). After you've identified the specific establishment of interest, say "Connect me," to instantly connect to the business. You can also ask the service to send you a text message with a link to a map showing the business.
TellMe Dial 800-555-8355 (800-555-TELL) for news, weather, sports, stock quotes, business listings, driving directions, movie times, horoscope, and more.
YouMail (youmail.com) claims it's the only free, customizable cell phone voicemail service that's generally available. It lets you have different greetings for different callers. You can manage all of your voicemail activities from the YouMail Web site, record greetings, listen to voicemail, and "blast" voicemail messages to a group of friends or associates. You can choose between standard voicemail, text message, or e-mail notification.
In June, YouMail announced the public beta of visual voicemail, which lets you access your voicemail via your iPhone's Web browser. You can sfee all your messages at a glance and can choose which ones to play and in what order. You can listen to voicemail messages, or forward messages on to other people, or reply via SMS. If you use YouMail, it would be in place of AT&T'fs voicemail, so it's nice to know that it now has the visual voicemail feature.
GrandCentral (grandcentral.com) lets you consolidate all your phones to a single number and choose which phone rings and when. The service includes centralized voicemail that can be checked from the Web site or through a phone, as well as call screening and name-based caller ID, blocking of numbers (including automatic blocking of telemarketer numbers in their database), call recording, the ability to switch lines during a call, and individualized voicemail greetings based on the caller.
Finally, I want to mention our listing of mobile directories. The iPhone's touch interface and Safari work well together to let you access Web pages designed for a much larger screen. But it can still be cumbersome scrolling around on a page. In addition, if you don't have a 3G connection, it can be excruciatingly slow. Because of this, some iPhone users prefer to access "mobile" Web sites designed specifically for PDAs and cell phones. These sites are formatted to display better on small screens. In addition, they have fewer graphics and load much faster than regular Web pages. Most major Web sites have a mobile version.
There are a number of excellent directories of mobile sites. You can find a listing of these directories on our own mobile Web site (smartphonemag.com/mobile).