Tell me what I don't know about my new iPhone.
September 22, 2012 6:31 PM   Subscribe

I've just upgraded from a phone that could barely handle email to an iPhone 5. I'm psyched about this quantum leap, and I'm familiar with most of what the iPhone can do, but this feels a little bit like getting a new limb: I know it'll be great, but I probably don't yet know how great and in what ways. What do I need to know to get the best possible iPhone experience?

I'm Apple-conversant (though an avowed Windows user for my regular computing) and have used an iPad for work for about three years, so I'm not a total neophyte to iOS and apps, and I have the basics for iPhone operations installed. I've spent most of today and yesterday combing the app store and Gizmodo, etc for app recs, and I am especially excited about the opportunities for upping my productivity - specifically getting little tasks done that I always forget (asking Siri to remind me of things has already been amazing), and targeting some trouble areas in my life: fitness (Fitocracy), nutrition (MyFitnessPal), budgeting (Mint + my bank's app), and sleep (Sleep Time). So I think I have these areas covered, but I may be missing some other great opportunities. I'm also open to suggestions in any other areas - in what way has your iPhone improved your quality of life? What do you wish you'd realized it could do from day one?

Tl;dr: tell me the best things your iPhone does for you, esp. those a new user may not know about.
posted by AthenaPolias to Technology (9 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
This is sort of the same question as this recent one, whose answers will probably be of interest to you.
posted by escabeche at 6:49 PM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Navigation (the new Maps kerfuffle aside, there are a number of navigation apps that use the built-in GPS and there's always Google Maps via web) is handy so you are never lost again.

There are apps like UrbanSpoon and Yelp so you can always find somewhere good to eat. The only time I've picked a bad restaurant of late has been when I didn't check Yelp.

Do you work out at all? There's probably a fitness or exercise app that could help you track your times/lifts/goals/calories/whatever. When I run outside, I use one called Runkeeper that helps me track my runs. Then there's fun stuff, like for runners there's one called Zombies Run that builds in zombie encounters to keep you on your toes.

Likewise, if you play sports, there's probably an app to help you find fields/courts/parks/etc. I have a Courtfinder app that figures out where I am and finds local basketball courts. It helped me find a little park by my house that has an amazing hoop and natural setting, but very few people even know it exists.

In addition to the iBooks app, if you have a Kindle, there's a Kindle app that will sync with your Kindle and Amazon account for quick reading if you get stuck somewhere.

If you like comparison shopping, there's several apps that will scan barcodes then scan the web and stores by you to see if you're getting a good price. I use one called RedLaser.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:51 PM on September 22, 2012

Oh, and if you're a driver, your insurance company may have an app where you can do things like call roadside assistance, record damage to your car, file a claim, check your policy, etc.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:52 PM on September 22, 2012

I find using Siri for reminders, especially location based reminders, is quite nice."when I get to work, remind me to call my auto repair place." and stuff like that. Tell your phone your relations and you can say, "call my brother"
posted by blob at 7:29 PM on September 22, 2012

One of the simplest things has been the most useful for me: syncing the Notes app. I can write notes on the iPad or the web based iCloud, and know they will show up on my phone. Great for having grocery lists or other info you want in your pocket, while being able to type them on the iPad or regular computer keyboard.
posted by The Deej at 8:22 PM on September 22, 2012

I hit up Urbanspoon's "nearby" function when looking for new restaurants, and the OpenTable restaurant reservation app too.

My boyfriend and I use the Find Friends app, which shows us each other's locations on GoogleMaps. We have ours set to always our locations to each other, 24/7, but there is also an option to show your location to someone temporarily. You can always hide your location (just switch the "hide my location" function on or off) or remove someone from being able to see your location altogether. (Point being, you don't have to avoid the app because you are worried about "there's no turning back!")

Find Friends is usually pretty accurate, though there are definitely occasions when it is not. For me, it's most useful for timing meet-ups. When my boyfriend comes to pick me up, I can look at the app and see when he is close to arriving. He doesn't have to distract himself from driving by texting or calling me. Also, super useful for if you're making dinner and want to time it so that the food will be hot when your significant other walks through the door!

I also use the camera function a lot. I didn't take a lot of photos before I had an iPhone but now I make an active effort to try and take photos of everyday things. Here's a photo of an outing with my friends, of tonight's successful roast chicken recipe, of a summer sunset. Having the ability to so easily take lots of photos has made me realize just how much I love having photos of my life. Plus, I know that a day will come — kids, grandkids, when I'm 80 years old, etc. — when I'll be really glad that I have these photos to show what my everyday experiences were like.
posted by The Girl Who Ate Boston at 9:17 PM on September 22, 2012

I have many image manipulation apps (blender, dxp, pxl, fuzel, shuchu-sen, paintmee, percolator, GIF+).

Using one on a photograph is kind of boring. Using one on a photograph, saving the output, loading that up in a different app or the same one with different settings, doing that lots of times, you can do some crazy things with images. And with the new processor it's pretty fast - noticeably faster than the 4, IMO.

There's also a Gmail notes option within the notes app, so that your notes are automatically emailed to your gmail account and archived.

I use Reeder synced with my Google Reader account (where I originally found this).

I made a lot of headway in my effort to learn Spanish with the Babbel app, Transjugator & Busuu.

While traveling in Central America this summer, since I had no cell service and couldn't count on WiFi, I used Galileo offline maps. You just open the app while online, zoom in to all the places you'll want to visit, and it saves the map data at whatever zoom level you were at, for offline viewing.

I stopped using the so-called iPod app and now stream most of my music using Rdio, freeing up lots of storage space.

When I'm in my car, I stream audio to the stereo using Bluetooth.
posted by univac at 9:34 PM on September 22, 2012

Hear a song you like playing on the radio, in a store, etc. Use Soundhound or Shazam to recognise the song - this will blow your mind.

If typefaces are your thing What The Font does the same thing with photos of type.

The Deej mentioned using Notes for shopping lists. I much prefer Shopper:
- It keeps a database of your previous items, which greatly speeds up creating lists.
- It lets you organise products into Aisles, so 'tomatoes - can' and 'corn - can' will show up next to each other regardless of when they were added to the list.
- You can set the order of aisles for a particular store. Next time you're shopping the app arranges the list to suit the store layout (thanks to the phone's inbuilt GPS). Go to a different store, and the same shopping list can be displayed in a different order.
- Auto sync's lists between users. My girlfriend can add an item to a list, and it will be there next time I open up the app. An American friend recommends GroceryIQ, which sounds pretty similar, but it's not available in Australia.

For other lists (and much else besides) Evernote is brilliant. Take a photo of something with text (eg a business card) or even half-decent handwriting and the content is almost instantly searchable. Evernote is much more than just an iPhone app (there are versions for iPad and desktop), but like a number of my favourite apps its power comes from always having it with you and being connected to the cloud.
posted by puffmoike at 7:03 AM on September 23, 2012

Some banks (like Schwab) have apps that allow you to deposit checks by taking a picture with the iPhone. That pretty much is the best thing.

Credit card companies (like Discover) have apps to let you see your balance and make payments.

Airline companies (like Delta) have apps to check your flight and to use as a boarding pass instead of printing one out.

When I visit my brother in NYC, I update the KickMap Lite app which has the whole NYC subway system map on it. So, if you are in the subway and need to know which stop/train you want and there's no signal, the map is already loaded.
posted by jillithd at 10:54 AM on September 23, 2012

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