iPhone and a Mac? Etc?
June 5, 2010 4:51 PM   Subscribe

I'm finally getting an iPhone when the new model is released. I have questions about integrating an iPhone with a Mac. Also: how can I save a little money on my soon-to-be hefty AT&T bill?

I currently have Cricket, so my monthly bill is only $48 after taxes for everything unlimited. I hate doubling it for a limited plan on AT&T, but I REALLY want an iPhone, so I guess that's just how it is. I do much of my calling from places where I'll have access to really reliable wifi. Can I somehow make calls over wifi rather than eat up minutes? I don't talk on the phone enough to need an unlimited plan... I just dread the thought of keeping track of minutes!

More importantly: I have a usb headset/mic connected to my Mac. With my current phone, it's possible to use it as a bluetooth headset (but my current phone is buggy). Can I use it with an iPhone? Or, really, I should ask if I can use my Mac as a bluetooth headset with an iPhone. I suppose I could just buy a new bluetooth headset, but I very strongly prefer the kind that have both ears and a mic (like this), and since I already own a usb one that's connected to my Mac...

Another biggie! Is it possible to send and receive texts using my Mac rather than typing them on the iPhone? Via an OS X dashboard widget, perhaps?

How else can I integrate an iPhone and my Mac? I haven't been able to find that info on Apple's site, which I find really surprising!

This last one might seem like a silly question, but… is the iPhone actually a good 'phone'? My current phone is the clamshell kind, for the sake of comparison.
posted by 2oh1 to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Someone can else can better answer many of your other questions, but as for the cost:

AT&T has deals with a lot of employers/organizations to offer people a slight deal on their bills. For example, telling AT&T that I work for the temp agency I've been working for gets me like 10% or 15% off my bill.
posted by veggieboy at 4:56 PM on June 5, 2010


Seconding veggieboy with regards to checking if you can get a discount because of your employer. I was AMAZED that I could because of mine.
posted by kthxbi at 5:07 PM on June 5, 2010


Skype App for iPhone is what you're looking for if you'd like to make your calls over WiFi.
posted by kate blank at 5:08 PM on June 5, 2010


You can stick email addresses you have through work, school, organizations here, and it'll let you know what discounts you're eligible for and give you a special online store to shop in. I get 24% off through the hospital a family member works at.
posted by floam at 5:32 PM on June 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


> Another biggie! Is it possible to send and receive texts using my Mac rather than typing them on the iPhone?

You can do this through iChat (whether or not you own an iPhone).
posted by churl at 5:51 PM on June 5, 2010


Bluethooth: Before the iPhone I used a product called BluePhone Elite which let me link my Macs and non-iPhones via BT. If I got a call or text, I'd get a notification on my Mac's screen and I could answer the call, bounce to voicemail, etc. I could send and receive SMS from my desktop. It was pretty sweet. But the iPhone doesn't support that even though my old Sony Ericsson from 2003 could.

The only bluetooth services the current model iPhone OS (the new phone will have a new new version of the OS but perhaps next week we'll learn of additional bluetooth services...I wouldn't hold my breath) is as a "handsfree gateway" and as a "wireless iAP". My MacBook Pro and iPhone 3G don't want to link at the moment so I can't test what the handsfree gateway will do. The "wireless iAP" in theory would let my use the share my MacBook's internet connection with the iPhone (sort of a reverse tethering...I've never been somewhere where I've had my MBP connected to the internet but my iPhone was unable to use wifi so I don't see the utility of this). I don't know if the "handsfree gateway" means that you could use your USB headset or not.

You would think the iPhone and a Mac would be much more integrated. They did great work on how Mail, Address Book and Calendar (and iTunes of course) helps manage your contacts and content over the USB cable. And if you spring for MobileMe, the wireless syncing (using the phone network or wifi) is pretty great. But even though both the phone and the Mac have Bluetooth and Wifi, they can't communicate with each other wirelessly. It would be badass if BluePhone Elite's features like being able to screen calls, send/receive SMS, etc but Apple chose not to do that.

There may be apps available by jailbreaking your phone to go around these limitations.

Regarding saving money on voice calls. You can get the Skype iPhone app and make unlimited calls to the US and Canada for $3/month. Skype just allowed using 3G for this (but you'd need to worry about using your now not-unlimited ATT data allotment). There are other VOIP apps that allow you to make calls w/o using your voice minutes and you'd need to shop around to who would be cheapest.

I don't talk on the phone much but the combination of the free nights/weekends and free mobile to mobile mean I don't actually use a lot of minutes (I currently have about 7000 rollover minutes which would be more but they eventually expire). The iPhone App from ATT will tell you how many minutes of each bucket ("anytime", "mobile to mobile" and "night/weekend" you've consumed so far in your billing cycle.

My gym also made it so I could get the ATT discount that veggieboy mentioned. It was something like 13% off the voice part of the calling plan.

Is the iPhone a good 'phone'?. Well, the new version hasn't been used publicly so no one knows. Despite the weaknesses in some functionality (the bluetooth) and shitty 1998 featured camera, I've been very pleased with my iPhones. AT&T's signal will drop on me often and they generally are bunch of dicks (but the people are nice I talk to at 611 to fix problems on their end). But I plan on getting a new one this summer.
posted by birdherder at 5:56 PM on June 5, 2010


Integration of the apps with the Mac is superb. Your Address Book syncs with Maps so when you are looking for someone on Maps, you can type in a few letters of their name, click on them, and Maps will find their address from your Address Book.

You can take a picture of someone using the phone, resize it, put it in your Address Book, and next time that person sends you an email on your Mac, the picture will appear with the mail message.

Your Calendar alarms will also appear on your iPhone. (Make sure the alarms aren't in the middle of the night.)
posted by musofire at 7:54 PM on June 5, 2010


This may not be helpful, but do you really need a Bluetooth headset, or do you just need a HEADSET headset? Because with the iPhone (unless they change something for the new one), Apple includes a pair of earbud headphones that have an included mic. You can use them to talk on the phone, as well as to listen to and control your music. Sure, it's wired, but if I want to wander I just put the phone in my pocket and go.

Regarding the iPhone being a "good phone," I have been extremely satisfied with it after 6 years on Motorolas. For what it's worth. There are lots of rumors regarding upgrades in the new version, including a better screen, better camera, etc. If true that would be excellent, but it does stand on its own as is.
posted by dondiego87 at 9:02 PM on June 5, 2010


AT&T just announced a $15 data plan, so your monthly payments won't be going up that much (if you go with AT&T's $40/mo. plan, that is). As for keeping track of minutes, you can get a running tab of your used minutes for the month on AT&T's website. If you don't use all of your minutes every month, rollover will be nice if you do happen to need extra minutes in the future.
posted by puritycontrol at 9:50 PM on June 5, 2010


I hate doubling it for a limited plan on AT&T

Some people are flipping out over it not being unlimited, but I've yet to see anyone come close to the 2gb limit in the more expensive plan (Att claims 2 percent of users do). I use my phone constantly (web surfing, email, gps for my vehicle, streaming music, etc.) and I average about 400 mbs a month (tethering is one way to actually get to the higher plans limit).

If you're a light user, the lower plan at 200 mbs at 15 bucks can save you money. Here's a good overview of the new plans.

I just dread the thought of keeping track of minutes!

There's no need to go to the AT&T website. You can download their official free app and do just about everything you could possible want to do including check your minutes, your data use, pay your bill, etc. It will also send you notices when your bill is due, past due, etc.

Is it possible to send and receive texts using my Mac rather than typing them on the iPhone?

You can send text messages from ichat, gmail, yahoo mail, AT&T's website... numerous ways (not much help on widgets, don't use them. I know there are several that claim to do what you're asking, but I can't vouch for them).

is the iPhone actually a good 'phone'

You'll find various opinions on that topic. For me, it's a great phone. Then again I don't use the phone all that much. If I used it for a living maybe I'd be more critical.

Whether it's a good phone or not in many ways has to do with the network. If you're in a place where an AT&T is strong, or one where it's weak.

And yes (not really a rumor), the new phones coming out this week will address many shortcomings (such as the camera, multitasking, etc.).
posted by justgary at 11:30 PM on June 5, 2010


Some people are flipping out over it not being unlimited, but I've yet to see anyone come close to the 2gb limit in the more expensive plan (Att claims 2 percent of users do). I use my phone constantly (web surfing, email, gps for my vehicle, streaming music, etc.) and I average about 400 mbs a month (tethering is one way to actually get to the higher plans limit).


I easily go over that limit every month. Streaming music is a big part of that. My biggest problem with it is that it's just another step closer to them charging people per MB that they use even though it really doesn't cost AT&T any more money. I have many friends who are jumping ship from AT&T partially because of this and partially because of their shitty coverage. You may want to reconsider getting an iphone because of the network it comes with. I have the droid incredible and couldn't be happier. I have an ipod touch and have used iphones but i would never trade in my droid for an iphone.
posted by no bueno at 9:22 AM on June 6, 2010


I easily go over that limit every month. Streaming music is a big part of that.

I didn't say it couldn't happen; I said it was very rare, and it is. If you're 'easily' going over the limit then you're streaming all the time on their data network (no wifi). Again, I use my iphone constantly and come no where near even half of my limit.

If the op wants an iphone, and wants integration with his mac, he's going to be very disappointed with a droid. I would be.
posted by justgary at 11:07 AM on June 6, 2010


I'm more concerned about AT&T's dropped calls than anything else. I've been using Cricket and my service has been cheap for everything unlimited, and it's been flawless. Yes, flawless - so long as I stay in town (which I normally do) and so long as I want nothing more from my phone than calls and texts. Ah, but my phone is crap, and there aren't any great smartphones available for Cricket. I'm at the point where I really want so much more from my phone.

I think something like this with a headset more or less permanently plugged in would solve my headset/mic needs... especially since I already own a great miniplug headset/mic too. I basically just need a solid stereo headset I can instantly pop on when I'm working at my desk and a call comes in. OK, I don't really need stereo... I just want both ears with a mic and a band across the top. That sort of thing.
posted by 2oh1 at 12:28 PM on June 6, 2010


It seems like you're set on getting an iPhone, but have you considered some of the new Android alternatives? The HTC Incredible and Motorola Droid are both fantastic phones that offer everything the iPhone does and more.

Android has really come into its own as an operating system; while Apple likes to tout its "huge" collection of apps, the fact is that about half of those applications are total junk, like gags and silly games. The other advantage to these phones is that you have more provider options and you should have no problem linking them to your Mac. I'd strongly consider them before buying an iPhone.
posted by Aanidaani at 12:32 PM on June 6, 2010


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