On a recent business trip, I found myself reflecting on the impact of recent technologies,to my everyday life; specifically the iPhone and Cloud computing. A few short years ago, a phone was just that: a phone. Now it is an indispensable personal productivity, entertainment and communication device. When I was a kid, Captain Kirk's communicator seemed pretty far-fetched. Not so much, any more. In fact, in many ways, Kirk's Starfleet communicator pales compared to my iPhone -- no worries Captain, you still have an edge, with that phaser! :-)
Let me list the ways...
So, cooling my heels between connecting flights, I decided to list all the ways I rely on my iPhone.
Lets's start with the obvious:
Email, Contacts and Calendars
I have five email addresses, and 4 calendars (including an exchange server and Gmail) mapped to my iPhone. Whenever I look at my calendar it is up to date, and any changes that happen are pushed to me, and I am alerted. I have instant access to approximately 2000 contacts! I can speak a name and my iPhone accurately retrieves that individual's contact info and ask me to clarifying questions to be sure it dials the right number. I know, someone is saying, my phone can do that... I'm just getting started.
The App Store
At last count the iPhone has over 180,000 apps in the App Store. Unless your phone is an iPhone, your phone can't beat that -- not even close.
When I book a trip, all I need to do is enter the record-locator into my Tripcase app, and my entire itinerary is downloaded to my phone, in seconds. A couple of clicks and my itinerary is forwarded to my family and business colleagues. Should my flight plans change, everyone is updated automatically!
While waiting at the gate, I swap texts with my wife, to let her know I arrive safely at the airport. I include a cute picture to make her smile. This goes on throughout my trip, allowing me to keep in touch with family and friends, from anywhere.
Photography On Demand
Visit a great restaurant, or witness a glorious sunset? That's worth a picture. The iPhone has a great little camera. Snap a picture and moments later it can be uploaded to my blog, Twitter, Facebook -- or all of the above -- directly from my iPhone!
Before uploading that image, I may want to color correct it, or straighten it, or crop and frame it; perhaps add a special effect. There's an app for that. In fact there are dozens. Some of the best include Photogene, PSmobile, PhotoFX, Brushes, ToonPaint, OldCamera, NightCamera, HDRCamera... I have to give a shout out, here, to Chipp Walters, for keeping me tight in this department!
Need video? No problem!
The iPhone has a built in video camera, and you can trim video clips right on your phone. That's come in handy more than once. You can even post the video directly to YouTube or simply text or email it to a friend...
Starbucks App Story
Still waiting at the airport, I decide to get a coffee. I check my Starbucks app to see that I have credit on my Starbuck card. I'm a little light so elect to transfer credit from my bank account to my bucks card, while I'm standing in line. Why? Rewards! I'm only a few point shy of a free drink. ;-) As I'm paying for my drink, I'm asked if I need my balance. "No thanks it's on my iPhone." I check the balance, and the debit has already posted before I could leave the counter. The barista and I take a moment to marvel at how quickly it updated. She's an iPhone user, too!
TripCase Saves the Day!
Heading back to my gate, I glance at TripCase again, and realize I have an update... My gate has been changed; it's now on the other side of the terminal; in the opposite direction. That saved me more than a few steps! If you have you ever made a connection at DFW, you know what I'm saying!!
I make it to the new gate with time to spare. So, I pull out my iPhone and open my Awesome Notes app to make some notes for this blog post, and I review some notes for my upcoming meeting. Insight App If you use BaseCamp, this is a great way to check-up on your projects while you are away from the office... And I do so.
NIV Bible App
I suddenly realize, in all my haste to get to the airport, and catch my flight, I hadn't had a chance to get into the Word, today. So, I open my NIV Bible app. Reading a particularly meaninful scripture, I copy it and email it to my wife. I also set it as a daily alert; a spiritual interuption in my day, to help me to stay focused on the big picture.
In-Flight Diversions - Dropbox in the Sky?
I've been known to watch movies, and TV shows, in flight on my iPhone, but on this trip, I put some business documents into the Dropbox folder on my desktop computer, so I could easily access them from the Dropbox app on my iPhone. I made each document a favorite, which notifies Dropbox to download a local copy to my iPhone. That way I can access them in-flight...
How easy it is to take this app for granted, but let's not forget that it was the iPod and iTunes that turned Apple around... Listening to my iPod, also an app on my iPhone, I spent some mid-air quality time catching up on my business reading.
Alarm Clock and NPR News Apps
At night, I launch my Alarm Clock app; and set the alarm to wake me in the morning with my song of choice: Jimi Hendrix, All Along The Watchtower... In the morning, after listening to a few bars of Jimi, I roll out, and reach fo my Phone; launching the NPR News App: Morning Edition; feels like home. :-)
Dragon Dictation App
Throughout the day I continue to make notes, for this blog, by speaking them into my Dragon Dictation app which converts my words to text. It does a pretty good job.
I consult with several clients each day, so need to keep strict notes about my hours and expenses... Yup! There's an app for that; many, actually. The best one I've found, is TimeMaster. It's a little spendier than most iPhone Apps($9.99), but it's well worth it -- and it's fully iPad* aware as well. The cool thing about TimeMaster, is how easily can generate reports, and with the optional module upgrade (also $9.99) you can generate beautiful PDF invoices and email them to yourself or your client, all from the iPhone.
We did some white board session on this trip, which we captured on our iPhones using the TurboScan app. What a gem! It allows you to correct any key-stoning (making the image rectilinear) and adjust the contrast. You can save the image or email it as a JPEG or PDF. The images are pretty high-rez, and they print reasonably well. My Favorite Apps, begin with "G" Everything I have mentioned thus far is pretty cool, but I have saved my favorite two apps for last: Google Search (voice activated, of course) Google maps and Google Earth. Whenever I'm planning s trip, or even if I just need to call ahead for information, I've gotten into the habit of search in the Google Maps app, first. Once the business destination is found, I immediately add it to my contacts AND I bookmark it, which makes getting directions to or from this location later, very easy. And Google Earth? It's just plain FuN!
So, admittedly this post may have degraded into an iPhone commercial. I'm not trying to convince anyone to switch; I'm just going on record that I am a very satisfied customer, who is thankful for these technologies.
*The answer is, "yes" -- early adopter. More about the iPad in another post ;-)