Thursday, June 25, 2009

iPhone 3Gs

So I did it, I got the iPhone. I have been waiting for the 3Gs to come out for a few months, and was on a pre-pay plan during that time, which was kind of strange and slightly limited my feeling of connectivity with the rest of the world. I was still unsure about getting the iPhone almost up until the day I got it. It is an extra $30 a month for data after all, and at $200 for the device itself that is getting expensive.

But I have had it for three days now, and I can see that is going to be easily worth it. I was expecting it to be good, so I am surprised that I am as impressed as I am. It is very fast, acting on most requests instantly. I did not expect that the phone would be better than a normal computer in many respects. For example, looking up things on Google maps feels great on the iPhone. By hitting the little target icon on google maps, it zooms into where you are. Tap it again and it shows you what direction the phone is pointing (and you too if you are holding it). Then to get directions, you either drop a pin icon where you want to go or enter in an address and it draws it for either car, public transit, or walking. It does it all of this as fast or faster than my laptop, with multi-touch flicking you around the map, and all over the 3G connection. Throw in search, and all the free apps that augment google maps, I should never be lost again!

I also was not expecting the GPS to be as functional as it is. I tested it on my ride to work today, and got this map, a little obnoxiously branded with their name, "MotionX GPS." Note that I just stick it in my pocket after hitting "start" and didn't let it sync to the satellites well enough at first, so the elevation is all off for the first .2 miles. I also stopped 1/2 way to try another (inferior) GPS app.

View Larger Map

Then you can take the data and plug it into lots of different web pages. I use to record bike rides, and it displays there just fine. They have an app that uploads directly to their site, but is doesn't capture or show enough data for me. This is another good one, that graphs everything out very cleanly. But my favorite is this one that does a little animation of you riding, so you can see how fast you were going along the way:

Update, I stuck a better trip in here so you can see how it works better

Home from work July 25th 2009

Or click here to see it full size.

I am happy with the camera, but cameras can always be better. Sometimes the photos are blurry and there is no zoom. Here is a sample photo I took of the camera at its best. Winnie was not impressed.

I am very happy with the video, which is quite nice. Here is a video I took showing the loading doc of the Macalester Art Department and the foundry during its summer re-set. I uploaded it to YouTube right from the phone. (Hit HQ for better quality)

The new iPhone software now "pushes" data to the phone, meaning that you don't have to go check a server for new data, it finds you and sends it to your phone immediately. So far, only AOL instant messenger and a free text message software called "TextFree" use it for no charge (SMS users, ask me for my address so I don't have to pay $.20 pr text). I hope gmail can figure out how to use it soon. Right now it automatically checks for you every 15 min, which is good, but push takes seconds.

Thats all for now. The feeling of being totally connected all the time is a little strange and addictive, but I am enjoying it!

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