Just bought an iPhone - how can I get maximum use from it?
August 28, 2009 12:06 PM   Subscribe

How can I get maximum use from my iPhone?

OK so I joined the Apple iPhone club (3G) and I'm really enjoying the phone. I've had it for about two weeks and found a lot of the features to be surprisingly useful.

My questions are:

1. What are the must-have applications for iPhone? I'm just a regular 9-5 type office worker with no kids at home and a small group of friends and family that I normally communicate with. Mid-thirties.

2. What are some cool web sites that I can use with my new iPhone?

3. Is there any way to make the keyboard full-size, so I don't constantly fat-finger text entry?

4. I just read that Amazon will be giving Kindle-like access to the iPhone. Are there any other content delivery sites that do anything like this (for audio, video, text, whatever?)

5. Seems like it should be easy to find out but... I'd like to make a web site of my own that works well in the iPhone. What sort of things should I keep in mind whilst developing it? (I'm a full-time java web application developer, so be as technical as you like)

Thanks guys!
posted by jlstitt to Technology (20 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Oh yeah and I meant to ask:

6. What are some cool accessories for the iPhone?
posted by jlstitt at 12:08 PM on August 28, 2009

Are you ok with Jailbreaking your phone (hacking it to install unapproved 3rd party apps)?

If you're willing to run the risk that an Apple firmware / iTunes update could potentially brick the phone (if you're not careful with how you update), there are some very powerful free apps available via Cydia that aren't available in iTunes. Things like video game emulators, Google Voice, internet tethering, etc..

3. You can type on landscape mode
4. There's already a Kindle App for the iPhone
6. There are battery extenders available and mounts so you can watch movies without your neck going sore
posted by chalbe at 12:16 PM on August 28, 2009

Get Stanza. You can download and read books on it. It's free and you don't have to mess with Amazon/Kindle. Classic old books are free. Yes, free. New books cost about $8 and up. Perfect for when you're waiting for a train, at the airport, etc. It automatically saves where you are when you quit. I have no problem with eye strain using it. Read about it here:


It's a bit of a pain in the butt setting up an account to buy books, but once you figure it out, it's easy. I find myself using it all the time.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 12:16 PM on August 28, 2009 [2 favorites]

The Amazon Kindle app is already available. Frankly, I don't like reading lots of text on my iPhone, so I wouldn't get it unless I also had a Kindle and just wanted to be able to read when I didn't have the Kindle.

Otherwise: if you travel, Yelp and UrbanSpoon for restaurants. If you use Facebook, the Facebook app complements the online version (doesn't replace it, though). If you use OmniFocus on the Mac, the iPhone version is useful, but I wouldn't use it on its own. Evernote is great for syncing notes between the web, the iPhone, and a desktop, though you need to pay for more advanced features and no ads. I use MathU's RPN calculator, much nicer than the built-in one if you are used to RPN. Ultralingua has good bilingual dictionaries if you need one. Paul Avery's Holy Bible app is a good multilingual Bible if you want one (even if you're not Christian; as a historian and frequent visitor of European churches, I find it helpful to have a Bible with me to look up verses, and Avery's app includes the Septuagint, the Nestle-Aland NT, Luther's German translation, and many others that you can download...).

Those are the apps I use, beyond the built-in ones, more than occasionally.
posted by brianogilvie at 12:20 PM on August 28, 2009

For iPhone web development, the iui library is widely used. I only looked at it briefly, but it looks like it includes javascript and css. It's also used on metafilter's iphone site mobile.metafilter.com -- unfortunately no longer being worked on :(

There are a ton of other askme's here asking for app recommendations; i'm just too lazy to search.
posted by cgg at 12:22 PM on August 28, 2009

I like Touch Arcade for coverage of the iPhone game market.
posted by Nelson at 12:29 PM on August 28, 2009

CardStar lets you put most of your discount and frequent flyer cards onto your iPhone, rather than on your keychain or in your wallet.
posted by electroboy at 1:08 PM on August 28, 2009

I have the kindle application and use it all the time. I have no problem reading text on it, and the backlight is great for in bed reading. I have no problem reading entire books on my iPhone. Yes, if I was a voracious reader, I'd use a kindle. But as a casual reader, the iPhone does great, is always with me, and doesn't cost another 300 bucks (or whatever the price of a kindle is).

the Facebook app complements the online version (doesn't replace it, though).

Depends on what type facebook user you are. I rarely open facebook on my mac, and with the release of 3.0 for the iPhone I'll be doing it even less.

What are the must-have applications for iPhone?

Make sure you read the other 500 times this question was asked.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 1:14 PM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Did you search the green? This question has been asked many times in many variations.
posted by chairface at 1:42 PM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

imdb mobile is handy. I like flixster, gymgoal and ixpenseit, as far as apps go.
posted by backwards guitar at 1:55 PM on August 28, 2009

Using the keyboard in landscape mode makes the keys slightly larger, and is easier for some people. However, I would recommend you just let your fingers fly and trust the autocorrection for the most part. It is almost always better than you think it is.
posted by joshrholloway at 2:03 PM on August 28, 2009

Two things:

Tethering without jailbreaking (http://help.benm.at/help.php) means that you can go ANYWHERE with your laptop. Just watch your bandwidth.

Jailbreaking means that you can use Skype on your phone. Crisper, cleaner international calls galore!
posted by suedehead at 2:42 PM on August 28, 2009

I use Skype on my phone (the Skype app) without jailbreaking. I'm also a big fan of Evernote.
posted by PatoPata at 2:47 PM on August 28, 2009

I've gotten maximum use out of my iPhone by using it to replace other things. I ditched my alarm clock and calculator almost immediately. I don't worry if I forget a flashlight on short trips. I bought small docking speakers and after realizing that I just carried them around the house with me, I got rid of my stereo. I like a minimalist life.
posted by PatoPata at 3:00 PM on August 28, 2009

This question only about a month and a half old or so, maybe less. It had some answers I found useful when I got my iPhone a few weeks ago.
posted by Atreides at 4:19 PM on August 28, 2009

I don't know that there are any particular must-have apps, so much as for most things on the Internet you already do, there is probably an iphone version for it. For example, I use SSH, AIM, and Facebook, so apps that emulate those are must-have for me. You can find stuff like this searching the app store. These might be useless to you though.

I do recommend Peggle if you are looking for a game.

Oh, if you use gmail, they have an incredibly well-designed interface if you visit it via Safari. Leaps and bounds better than using the built-in mail client.
posted by cj_ at 8:32 PM on August 28, 2009

The Oxford Concise English Dictionary for my iPhone is perhaps the best $20 I've spent in recent memory. Other apps I use all the time: Wiki tap, NYT reader, NYT crosswords, and Pandora. Except for the $6 crosswords, they were all free.

Get a case that shows of your style. I've got this one and I get no end of compliments on how awesome it is. I'm a skull-sock monkey kind of gal. Whatever works for you.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 1:00 PM on August 29, 2009

Google's GWT project hs a page of guidelines for developing iPhone apps here. Pretty GWT-centric, but it might be useful.
posted by mjg123 at 3:55 PM on August 29, 2009

Apps are an individual preference, I find; I tend to use only three or four on a regular basis. If you use Google Reader, try their mobile version. I use it more than anything except the Mail app.

I'm on my second Rebel case from SwitchEasy (not that they wear out, I just wanted to change colors) and I love it. The silicone cases grip your pocket, making it hard to slide in and out, so this is a combo of smooth plastic and silicone which I think is perfect. And it's protected my phone from many scary drops.
posted by TochterAusElysium at 6:19 PM on August 29, 2009

Here are some apps that I really like and use regularly:

Instapaper — when combined with a browser bookmarklet it's a ingenuous app that let's you save web pages for reading later, even offline (two versions, one is free and "pro" version is $4.99...but unlike many lite vs. pro apps in the app store the free version is actually useful so it's definitely worth checking out)

Umbrella — Sends you a push alert at a time you specify to tell you if it's going to rain that day ($2)

Convertbot — there are a million different converter widget-apps out there for the iPhone but you only need one of them and I think this one is the most well thought out of the bunch ($1)
posted by dyslexictraveler at 9:57 PM on August 29, 2009

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