Apple iPhone Features Wish List

It’s almost midnight as I type up this quick entry. Quick being the objective as I’m still a bit under the weather and according to the docs, should be resting this bit of pneumonia instead of chatting late into the evening. However, I’m reminded that minutes equal days equal months and before you know it, your blog relevance has none because you don’t post often enough.

But I digress…

Read More

iPhone Case Reviews – InCase, Clarifi & The Naked Case

Got a quickie post this evening. I’ve had my iPhone for a few months now, and given the delicate nature of the phone, I’ve sampled many a case for protection. Tonight I’m highlighting three cases, all of which are excellent, but two fall short based on the same design flaw.

First up the Naked Case by Case Mate.

What attracted me to this case was the premise of the iPhone being fully enclosed within a protective shell. It helped that a friend already uses the case, and mentioned she dropped her phone twice with no ill effects. I looked through various reports, and the only negative comment I could find about the case was condensation that sometimes appeared on the iPhone’s screen. Reports of this weren’t widespread, and my friends who have the case said it really wasn’t an issue. I happened to catch the case on special, and dropped $20 to have one shipped. The case arrived, and my experience was just as advertised by Case Mate. Overall a sturdy case, and the touch screen worked through the front cover as expected. Unfortunately, the case was REALLY slick. The hard plastic was quickly covered with finger oils (and some of you are laughing because you know I’m an OCD handwasher), and the screen was quickly covered in finger prints. The finger prints I could deal with as the iPhone screen was really quite good, but I just couldn’t hold the phone without worrying about it slipping out of my hand.

Second entry the Clarifi case by Griffin Technology.

Clarifi Case for iPhone 3G

I discovered this case because I currently use Evernote on my iPhone. The Clarifi case comes with a sliding macro lens to help improve closeup images taken with your iPhone. In fact, it improves the close range to about 4 inches. This lens is extremely useful for things like snapping books, CDs, DVDs, or in my case business cards. <off topic>Evernote has OCR search functions for images, so I can take a picture of a business card, but search the text in it later.</off topic>  After the disappointment with the Naked Case, I was pretty excited about this one just based on everyday usefulness. The case cost more $34.99, but arrived within short order. Functionally, getting the iPhone in the case was similar to the Naked Case. Essentially, two pieces, one that slides over the length of the phone, and a bottom piece that slides and locks into position. The macro lens slides back & forth and I noticed quite a difference when taking closeup photos. The product worked as advertised. Unfortunately, the Clarifi case suffered from the same design flaw as the Naked Case. The polycarbonate material while sturdy was also slick. The case had rubberized grips on the side, but still felt a bit slippery. The other thing I noticed after a few days of use, dust gathered pretty quickly on the lens, which was hard to clean without a tool of some kind. In my case, a Q-tip worked well, but the point was to have immediate access to the lens as required.

Third entry, and current case, the Slider Case by Incase.

I purchased this case at an Apple Store for one reason only – the rubberized grip. While the case is plastic like others listed above, the outside surface has a bit of grip, and doesn’t absorb any oils from hands & fingers. There isn’t any screen protection so I use a Power Support anti-glare screen cover. While my iPhone screen is not as bright, I have found this screen cover works amazingly well simply because it doesn’t hold finger prints.

In closing, the downside of online ordering is the lack of immediate user experience. If I had spent more time with the Clarifi or Naked Case prior to purchase, I probably would have held off buying at all. Now, my experience may be different from yours. For me, the slick feel of the polycarbonate cases lowered my confidence in what daily use would be like, but the Naked Case excels in overall protection, and I really need the macro lens feature of the Clarifi case. For now, I’m using the Slider Case daily, and grabbing the Clarifi simply when I’m in the office to snap closeup images.

iPhone Dedication to @JohnHays

This is a quick late night post for John Hays; my buddy who’s slowly joining the Cult of Mac. Today John grabbed an iPhone, the precursor to next week’s Apple shopping spree I’m soooooo jealous. The good news is John will probably have me over to do some setup stuff, and I’ll get to drool over his new toys. But I digress…

Earlier today the subject of iPhone apps came up, because, well… what’s an iPhone without apps? Now there are a ton of lists out there, but one more (especially one written for my pal) can’t be bad for folks wanting to know. So here in no particular order is my list of iPhone apps:

1. Air Sharing by Avatron – turns the iPhone into a WiFi accessible hard drive. Use it all the time in class to transfer files for students. Jumped in when it was a free app, sells now for about $6.99.

2. Evernote – The ability to take notes in many forms, e.g., audio, photo, text, on-the-go then sync with a computer makes this part of my everyday arsenal.

3. 1Password – I have not converted everything over to this utility. Graham at ImJustCreative recommends a solid system for password recall, but I do find it convenient for the numerous websites that require a password.

4. Twittelator ProTweetDeck is my desktop computer Twitter client of choice, but for on-the-go iPhone communications, you can’t beat Twittelator Pro. The ability to group tweets makes this app useful for tracking conversations.

5. NetNewsWire – All the hip kids are grabbin’ RSS feeds to stay on top of their favorite sites, and NetNewWire is the Mac OS X app of choice. Now on the iPhone.

6. Shazam – This is probably my favorite “not work” app. When you have an 8-Track player in your car, the radio is all you got for current tunes. Letting Shazam pick the artist’s info from my FM station, and tag it so I can purchase from iTunes is AWESOME.

7. Shozu – I’m hoping to get to a one-post-one-email system to upload images to all my social networks, but Shozu does the job sending to sites one-by-one.

8. Sportacular – Finally, one app to bring me football scores each weekend.

9. Fake Calls – Hey look, I just got a call from Scott Kelby! Just kidding, but the idea of having an escape plan is great for those awkward social moments.

10. Google Earth – You too can hold the world in the palm of your hand.

I left out some obvious choices like Facebook, MySpace & Remote as it won’t be long before those apps are just on the iPhone at time of purchase. To finish off this post, here’s a link to 11 different iPhone App review sites.

If you know of a cool app, that both John & I should get, leave some comments with your suggestions.

Can’t All This Technology Work Together?

I know I’ve been horrible with updates to the blog… bad blogger, bad BAD blogger. That’s an issue for another time. This evening I’m throwing out a quick rant, and maybe a little stream of consciousness for you my dear readers.

Picked up an iPhone two months back when my Windows Mobile phone finally kicked the bucket. The timing was good because my Sprint contract had finally ended, and the only thing I do on a PC anymore is Outlook. Many readers know I have been trying to cut my PC ties for a while now, and this moment seemed to press the issue. So after much debate, I took the plunge and made the complete jump to the darkside.

I’ve been limping along ever since…

Let me be clear, I am happy using a Mac. I switched because I got tired of being my own Geek Squad whenever I needed to do something on the computer. Frankly, my Mac does what I need it to do, no more, no less. When I’m finished with it, I can power it off. Yes, it does crash, but the geek in me isn’t constantly on duty, fixing stuff.


Like any relationship, things are not always perfect, and my relationship with my Mac could use some improvements. Specifically, contact management, calendar & email. I asked before about a good Outlook replacement, and received a few suggestions. After looking at several items, I settled on using Contacts & iCal, and use Entourage for email. The switch to iCal has been okay, I didn’t like losing all the categories I used in Outlook, but iCal is the best fit for the iPhone (surprise).

Which brings us to my rant…

I realized this afternoon that I could subscribe to many of the Meetup calendars I support, reducing the need to manually enter events. I spent about 30 minutes loading the various calendars into iCal only to discover they don’t sync via MobileMe to the iPhone. A quick Google search led me to Jeff Croft who posted on the MobileMe Sync shortcoming. His suggested work around maybe an option, or I could use the suggestion to sync with Google calendars. Johnny Sewell was nice enough to give me a coupon for Spanning Sync.

Which brings us to the second part of my rant…

I want ONE system to track calendar info, not a collection of programs that will “collaborate” if they’re in the right mood. I shouldn’t have to take my Google calendar subscribe it to my Meetup calendars then sync that to iCal on my desktop computer so it uploads nicely to MobileMe which can then “push” it down to my iPhone. Blech… it was bad enough when I had to do a USB connection with my Window Mobile phone and wait 2 hours each day for syncing, but at least it was one app. What’s annoying is according to Jeff Croft’s post on the topic the .MAC service had proper syncing to the iPhone, which was broken with MobileMe. At least Apple knows there’s a problem (TS1213 article), so we can hope it might be addressed.

Back in September Tech Savvy Mama posted on “Paper vs Online Calendars.” At the time I didn’t think about it, but today’s events made me realize something… technology puts us on a path of continual migration. The communications technology that has stayed current throughout all our 21st century accomplishments is pencil & paper. Say what you will about saving trees, but the fact remains some of us have migrated our computer data from tape to floppy disk to bernoulli drive to jazz drive to zip disk to CDs to DVDs to Blue-Ray.

As of this moment, I haven’t found an answer to my current calendar dilema. I’ll be rooting through searches I’ve made online, but certainly welcome any suggestions.

Everyone Can Use My Credit Except Me

If you followed me on Twitter yesterday, you know I was at the Apple store trying to purchase an iPhone. I bounced in about 1PM, and after talking to a couple of store reps decided to take the plunge. What followed next was the longest 2.5 hours of my day.

I’m going to link you to the back story, which I hope you will DIGG because that post has worthwhile information on credit fraud (more prevalent in the United States).

Continuing with this story, let’s just say I forgot that all my accounts are locked due to “credit fraud protection”. Ryan the Apple store rep had just walked me through most of the “interview” process for my purchase when he received some sort of flag on his point-of-sale unit. He had to call AT&T to port over my number from Sprint, and next thing you know my phone rang.

At the time, I ignored the call as Caller ID was “unknown”, and I was in the middle of this store purchase. Ryan proceeds to tell me that it was the AT&T rep, and she needed to speak with me. No problem I thought, until she called back AND MY PHONE DIED. Twitter followers know that I have been holding off on getting an iPhone, but my Sprint phone had been on its last leg for a few weeks. So there I was in the Apple store, trying to make my purchase, and I couldn’t because AT&T had no way to contact me.

It was then that I realized I had been possessed by the Cult of Mac. I was not leaving the store without a working phone, an iPhone specifically. I scrambled to get a USB cable from another store rep so we could get power to the phone. Got it. Asked the AT&T rep to call back, and when I picked up we got disconnected. Ryan asked the rep to call again, and she stated she had exceeded the number of courtesy calls she could make on an account. Holy crabcakes! Say it wasn’t so.

Ryan patiently spent the next 2 hours calling AT&T talking to a different account exec each time in an effort to get my service ported from Sprint. If my phone wasn’t sending the calls directly to voicemail, I was wrestling with the inordinate number of questions to prove my identity. Remember a few paragraphs back when I said I forgot about the credit hold on my accounts? Those holds are supposed to make it difficult for other people to assume my identity. Didn’t seem to matter much last week when someone attempted to buy a car in my name, but there I was making a legitimate purchase, and I couldn’t answer half the questions.

Finally, after the 6th call to yet another AT&T rep, my Sprint phone stayed connected on the call, AND I got five questions I could directly answer. Weathered & weary, I paid my dues to the Apple rep, shook his hand, and headed out the door.

I’ll be sharing my experiences with the iPhone in an upcoming post. Be sure to tune in as this adventure has only just begun.