I got an iPhone this month, and it surpassed my high expectations. It’s amazing.
My 3GS model is 16 GB and weighs 4.8 ounces. That means that the little phone I keep in my pocket holds eight times as much space as the laptop I used from college through my first PhD (1998–2006).
If you have an iPhone (or iPod Touch), these resources may help you use the tool more efficiently.
1. iPhone Apps
Here’s a screen-shot of my apps as they appear iTunes (click on the image to enlarge):
- Cf. Phil Gons’s list of the main iPhone apps that he uses on his iPod Touch.
- My favorite apps include Logos Bible Software (more info), Google Mobile App, Dragon Dictation, Red Laser ($1.99), Dropbox, and Mint.com Personal Finance.
- There are many other useful apps that I’ve chosen not to use for various reasons (e.g., PIM, news, sports).
Here are some practices I’ve found to be helpful:
- Organize your apps. (It’s easier to do this in iTunes than on your iPhone.) Arrange your apps in a logical order on your iPhone screens. I put my most frequently used apps on the first screen and then group the rest by categories (e.g., weather).
- Delete apps you won’t use. Don’t simply delete them from the screen on your iPhone but delete them from iTunes: select Applications > right-click an app > delete. (Navigate to “Applications” listed on the left pane under “Library”—not the “Applications” tab for your iPhone, which appears under “Devices.”)
2. iPhone Filtering and Accountability
The iPhone is completely unfiltered. I’m too weak to use a phone like that, so I considered several filtering options.
- X3watch (free app). This is what I’ve been using without a glitch. It’s not an Internet-filter, but it weekly emails my wife and two accountability partners a list of sites I visited that may contain questionable material.
- Safe Eyes Mobile ($19.99 app). I tried this first because my family already uses Safe Eyes on our computers, but I was really disappointed. Even after several email exchanges with the Safe Eyes customer support team, I couldn’t successfully or easily access two of the primary sites I use the browser for: Gmail and Google Reader. I hope this app improves.
- iNet SafetyBubble ($19.99 app). I didn’t try this.
- Mobicip Safe Browser ($4.99 app). I didn’t try this.
- Covenant Eyes (free app). Although it’s “free,” it requires an account with Covenant Eyes, which costs $8 per month merely to email out a list of sites you visited. This would be ideal if you already use Covenant Eyes on your computer(s).
- OpenDNS (free but not an app). This is merely a partial solution because it applies only when your iPhone or iPod Touch is connected to the Internet via your home Wi-Fi Network. OpenDNS can block sites at the router level, so it automatically blocks sites regardless of whether you’re connected via desktop, laptop, or iPod Touch. It is not tied to a particular browser.
There is not a way to use Safari, Apple’s Internet-browser for the iPhone, in a filtered way. The only option is to disable Safari (and ask another person to type in the restrictions password) and then use a different browser that can be filtered or monitored. (Options 1–5 above include their own browser as an alternative to Safari.) Unfortunately, not using Safari means that you may lose a small degree of functionality (e.g., I haven’t been able to get the Amazon Kindle App to work).
3. Other iPhone Suggestions
Here are some other options I’ve found to be helpful:
- Use Google Sync (instructions) if you use Gmail and Google Calendar and if you organize your contacts in Gmail.
- If you use Gmail, set the home page of your non-Safari Internet browser to Gmail. That way you can use its features more easily (e.g., labels, archive, stars), which is important if you maintain an organized inbox. While logged in to Gmail, you can quickly tab over to other Google programs like Google Calendar, Google Reader, and Google Tasks. Unfortunately, I’m not able to use some of the Google Apps because I’ve disabled Safari. This is probably my biggest drawback of disabling Safari because otherwise my top three apps would be Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Reader. I’ve synced the iPhone’s built-in email and calendar with Gmail and Google Calendar, so sometimes it’s quicker to use those even though they lack some functionality.
- Use a case. If your phone breaks, it may cost you $600 to replace it. I use an Otterbox Impact Case for good protection and grip. Some of my friends use Slider Case, CaseCrown, and InvisibleSHIELD.
- Increase your battery life by turning off push notifications (among other things). Or if you value battery-depleting features, consider purchasing a Kensington Battery Pack and Charger.
- Create your own ringtones. You can assign them as custom ringtones for selected contacts, and you can also use them as the alarm for timers and alarm clocks.
- If you have a Google Voice number, don’t use the iPhone’s voice mail but instead forward all messages to your Google Voice inbox. Then when people leave you a message, you’ll get a transcript of it in your email inbox, where you can also opt to listen to the audio. You can also check your Google Voice mail from any phone or directly check your Google Voice inbox online.
- Use Voice Control. Press and hold the home button for a few seconds to activate it. This feature works accurately for me when I speak directly into the speakers at the bottom of the phone (located next to where you plug in the charger).
- Use screen-capture by holding down the home button and quickly pressing the top sleep-button (or vice versa). It will snap a pic and automatically add it in your photos.
I’d warmly welcome feedback on these iPhone (and iPod Touch) resources, especially since I’m an inexperienced user.
- What are your favorite apps? What apps (other than games) would you recommend?
- Do you have any other suggestions or helpful comments re filtering?
- Do you have any other suggestions?