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Summer fun: beaches, bbq's...iPhone apps?

So, this is a bit of a deviation from our standard security-focused articles, but given how you can't go 15 minutes without hearing about the iPhone 3G, I think it's appropriate to bring it up.  I have an original iPhone (4GB!) and was able to successfully download the new iPhone software before the mad rush and figured I would share some observations after a full week or so of using the software.

First off, I admit it: I haven't been this excited about computers since I got my first Mac in 1985.  Apple's App Store (accessible via iTunes and through the iPhone itself) brings back that sense of excitement and creativity that really was part of the Mac culture back in the day.  For the first time since then, we are really seeing the beginning of a new computing platform, one that really is a game changer. It's a true 21st century invention - it's a device that knows where you are, so it's kinda hard to get lost. It's a device that lets you access the libraries of the world via the Internet, so it's hard to not know something.  I mean, this is a device that can listen to the song that is playing on the radio and not only tell you what it is and who made it, but give you a chance to buy it! And it's a phone!

You have probably read about the new software, how you can finally do some tasks (multiple message selection when deleting or moving emails) and still can't do others (I can't believe that cut and paste didn't make the cut...or the paste, to be honest).  Yes, there some nice functionality improvements (I don't need a scientific calendar, but thanks) but honestly, it's still really all about the applications. Here are a few of my favorites and how they fared at the bbq I went to this past weekend:

1 - Midomi and Shazam - Have you ever been to a restaurant or party and heard a song and go, "What song is this?" or "Who is this band again?" Of course you have. You even said, "Wouldn't it be cool if you could just use some kind of device to find out?" and then you got another shrimp.  Now, before you get that shrimp, you can use the iPhone to do exactly that.  Both apps do the same thing, but Midomi lets you buy the newly revealed song in iTunes. Shazam seems to work a bit better (the server is not as busy as Midomi), but seriously, this is the coolest party trick ever.  My wife and I sat in the car going from radio station to radio station using the iPhone to identify tracks. Yup, it's so cool that I am admitting what a nerd I am.  Both are free.  Free!  Free for you to impress your friends and future dates.

BBQ factor:  10/10,if music is playing or if you have friends that are good at singing; 0/10 if there is no music playing


2 - Remote - Apple wrote this one, and I really don't know why they didn't just make it part of the iPhone software. Very simply, it allows you to access your iTunes or AppleTV library, which is very cool if you have an Airport Express sending your music to the stereo.  It's cool, it shows the art work, allows you to change speakers...it sounds simple, but, honestly, I am stoked on it.  It's free, too.

BBQ factor: 9/10 if it's your party. I did not give it a 10/10 because there is no option to automatically turn down the music when a call comes in, and I can't figure out how to apply a star ranking to the song that is playing. If it's not your party, go play with Midomi and Shazam and stop trying to mess with the music!

3 - Starmap - This app shows the night sky, based on your location, complete with planets, galaxes and even into the Deep Field, which sounds intense.  This is a very cool app, especially if you know someone into Astronomy (I know this because my wife works at NASA and covers Astronomy missions and she said it was cool). Once you get the hang of it, it's kinda fun to be able to answer the question, "Is that a planet?"  Starmap costs $11.99, which is kinda steep, but hey, it's space, man.

BBQ Factor: 9/10 if it's a clear night and you take the time to figure ot how to use it.

4 - Super Monkey Ball - This is a fun game, even though the controls can be really frustrating. Read more about it here, but basically you control the game by tilting your phone. Problem is, you need to keep the phone flat, so you can't be all relaxed into the sofa when you play, you have to be looking at it from the top angle. It's fun, but it's hard--Level 7 took me forever--but I bet it will make standing in line at the post office easier, and that's really even more important than being the cool geek at a bbq.

BBQ Factor: 5/10 - It's a bbq, dude! Hang out and meet people! You don't want to be that guy playing videogames by himself, right?


There are a lot of cool apps (AOL Radio, Pandora Radio, NYTimes are great, and I just installed Evernote's which looks useful), but the ones above were the most popular at the bbq.

When I first got into the Mac, half of the fun was going to Mac meet ups (or MacWorld Expo) to meet other Mac users and see what they were doing with the computer. You'd meet folks making all kinds of games and applications just to see what the computer could do--I would always come back with a few 400k floppies full of small applications, games and tools. The iPhone really reminds me of that time--there is a lot of optimism and excitement whenever you talk about what kinds of applications you can make.  It's nice to be excited about what's possible, you know?  The Mac team at Symantec is obviously excited about the iPhone (Ryan got his after only a few hours in line on Sunday!) and although we're obviously we're always thinking about security, we're equally excited about looking into other kinds of applications as well. It's a truly exciting time to be a team making Apple products.


How about you? What do you think of the iPhone? Awesome? Overhyped? What kinds of applications would you like to see on it?

Message Edited by mikeromo on 07-23-2008 11:09 AM


I really like my iPhone. I also have v1. The only things I miss is the connection tom Exchange. But besides that it sure is the best around
"All that we are is the result of what we have thought"