After a few weeks with my new
toy cellphone I am an iPhone app slut. There, I’ve said it. It’s out in the open now.
Apps are the little plug-in programs that extend the functionality of the iPhone. They do a lot, but I suspect they would do more if there wasn’t such a stringent approval process from Apple–the controlling psychotic girlfriend of computing.
Most paid apps cost $.99, though they do go higher. There are thousands of free apps too. In my role as an app slut I hardly ever pay. Of the dozens I’ve installed my total expenditure is still around $5.
Many of the apps take websites and customize their content for the phone’s smaller screen. We’ve got one (a very good one–no BS) at the TV station. The Times, Huffington and lots of other publishers have them too. I also have a few for weather data.
Oh–speaking of that the iPhone has no Flash or Java plug-in. That’s a major deal. There are a few weather applications I use daily which need Java¹. I am suspicious this too has a lot to do with Apple’s control freak mentality.
Apple also prevents apps from running in the background. That means a GPS logger only logs when it’s the only thing running! Answer a call or look at an email and you have to restart the app. Maybe there’s a technical reason for this, but we’ve all come to expect multitasking and Verizon is heavily promoting it’s Droid’s ability to do that.
When the Google Map product just announced for Verizon’s Droid phone gets ported to the iPhone it will surely need to be downloaded as an app. This will happen. It probably won’t happen until the Droid has received the full benefit of its exclusivity and coolness.
I was playing with using the iPhone as a radio in the car, bringing in the NPR shows I like without the static I now get. My idea was flawed because NPR’s app is horrendously flawed (after using it a minute or two the buttons become extremely unresponsive) and Internet reception can sometimes be spotty.
Even if you lose the signal for just a second or two the NPR stations’ software sees this as a new connection and gives you a pre-recorded underwriting spiel before restarting the program. Sheesh!
On the other hand I’ve taken photos with the iPhone’s reasonably good camera (using an app called Tripod to steady the shot in low light) and had them posted on Facebook (using its app) seconds later. Very cool.
I downloaded the Joost app last night. It’s a video service claiming 46,000+ videos.
Don’t let the numbers fool you–that’s not a lot.
I watched a black and white Lone Ranger episode I’d watched as a kid. Even then I recognized very distinctive rock formations that amazingly showed up in every town the Ranger and Tonto visited. They were there last night! Now, with the Internet, I understand most of the episodes were shot in LA’s Griffith Park.
Joost suffers from what every video site suffers from–bad search. There’s just no good way to search video yet. That’s not an iPhone specific problem. Netflix and Hulu and, to a lesser extent, Youtube haven’t figured this one out.
The iPhone is a very good video player. It’s large enough, with a display dense enough, to make viewing a full show a reasonably enjoyable experience.
My secret friend from the San Fernando Valley said last night, “It’s the best toy I’ve ever had.” That’s a defensible position. This is a lot of fun and a lot of function.
I’m curious if Verizon/Motorola/Google’s entry into the market will force Apple to loosen up a little? I believe there’s a lot of potential being held under wraps, because even though I’m an app slut, Apple isn’t!