Six weeks with a smart phone

It’s been about a month and a half since I got my iPhone 4S, and boy, have the two of us had some fun. Here are some of the many things we’ve done together, starting with the most awesome.

Found a faster route to dance class (with Maps)

If you (carefully) follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed I took a class to learn the choreography from Thriller. It was a pile of fun, but not so convenient to my apartment.

Or so I thought. Up until the week after I got my iPhone, I thought the quickest way to get to class was a 30 minute bus ride and a ten minute walk. After checking NextBus and the built-in Maps app, I discovered that the shortest route is, in fact, a ten minute bus ride and a ten minute walk. Instead of leaving my place an hour before class starts, I can leave twenty-five minutes before class.

Thanks to my trusty iPhone, I’ve reclaimed 35 minutes of my week. This. Rocks.

Tracking my morning walks (with RunKeeper)

Unsurprisingly, I like keeping track of my habits and interactions (which is probably why I saved enough text messages to cause the death of my dumb phone).

RunKeeper is doing a great job of tracking my morning walks. The spoken duration alerts make it easier for me to make sure that I’m back in time to start my morning work. I’m also enjoying using the Street Team feature with my close friends.

Taking photographs and video (with Camera and Instagram)

I take a photo of the National Cathedral most mornings (a topic for another blog post… Preview: it’s an ongoing experiment in habit-making, perception of time, and remembering to observe the world around you). I’ve also used the video feature to capture “video notes” from my Balboa class.

When I capture a photo worth sharing (like the awesome turkey my dad and I smoked for Thanksgiving), I use Instagram to publish to the web and sometimes Twitter.

Playing interactive fiction (with Frotz)

Interactive fiction (also known as text adventures) was an early form of computer game, and a vibrant community of players and writers still thrives today. I’ve been enjoying playing IF with Frotz; my favorite game so far is Lost Pig, and I’ve also enjoyed Bronze and Photopia.

Speaking my text messages (with the little mic icon) for free (with iMessage and Google Voice)

Yes, Siri is really cool. But, I’ve been using the new microphone icon on the keyboard more often. It appears to understand me better, and I like that I can use a combination of typing and speaking to compose messages.

For when I’m texting with someone not on iOS 5, Google Voice has made it even more reasonable for me to skip the text messaging plan, and save a few bucks. Yay!

What’s next?

Who knows what fun I’ll discover next, but I can definitely say I’m sold on the smart phone. This post covers my favorite ways I’ve used my phone so far; you can also check out my recent Bagcheck bag to see my first favorite apps, including two more games and a number of practical apps.

Though I’m still not pumped about the cost of the plan (I did NOT enjoy receiving that first bill, which accounted for the first AND second month together), I am very pleased with the broad use I get out of my iPhone 4S. It has decreased the number of devices I carry, and expanded the number of things I can do. Now that’s win-win.

What are your favorite memories with your smart phone? Has it ever helped you in ways other devices can’t? Leave a note in the comments, or tweet at me.


About Veronica Erb

Designs, researches, illustrates, and writes code. Plays ukulele. Dances Balboa. Grew up in a geodesic dome, and hasn't gotten over it.
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