MAC USER

iPhone, You Phone, We All Phone

By Victoria L. Herring

What more can be written about the iPhone? Enough already! Ah, but how about its real-life usage and what we can see in its future? Everyone on the MacLaw list ( www.maclaw.org) knows I’m somewhat nuts about Apple products and a fairly early adopter. I waited, though, to get my iPhone—about a week. Fortunately for me, my Verizon Treo (a good company and good phone, but nothing like this) contract was finished and the Treo was a bit of a pain to deal with (I hated needing to use and not lose the stylus). So, I ended my contract with Verizon and bought an iPhone (8 GB). Of course, that was before the price drop or capacity increase (to 16 GB), but I did get my rebate and happily spent it.

I took my iPhone and MacBook Pro with me to the July convention of the American Association for Justice in Chicago last year. But there was no sense lugging the laptop with me daily because my iPhone did everything the laptop could do, but with less hassle. I wasn’t staying at the convention hotel, so I couldn’t use the Internet easily. But my iPhone was able to use its EDGE network to connect for calls, texts, surfing, and e-mails. It also was unobtrusive and much lighter than a laptop. One night a friend of mine and I were in one part of the city and had to walk to another location but were confused about how to do so. We plugged in our location and the place’s address, and the Maps program diagrammed it quickly and neatly—we could even opt for satellite, map, or list view.

I love the iPhone’s camera, which proved especially helpful on caucus night in Iowa when I realized that I was there without having brought my 35 mm camera. I just started using the iPhone to record the proceedings. No, the pictures aren’t fancy, but they’re not supposed to be more than what they are, a quick record of a place or event. And that was an event to remember.

I have my kids’ locations in the Weather program so I can see what it’s like where they are, and I use SMS (Short Message Service) quite a bit to communicate with them at college. I use the Clock as an alarm clock when traveling and the Notes feature to keep track of thoughts. I have used the iPhone as a phone outside of the United States (in Mexico, Croatia, and Venice) just fine with minimal expense (you have to set it up right); the iPhone is on the AT&T and partner network and uses GSM technology. Your photos on the iPhone will import seamlessly to either iPhoto or Aperture, Apple’s programs, and perhaps others (not having them, I don’t know).

A major new use for me is to have a set of favorite photos in an album in iPhoto (in my case, it’s art photos that I take, print, and sell—in others’ it might be family photos). The photos sync as a new album in the iPhone, and if I’m talking about a certain shot to someone, I can pull out the phone and show them the shot quickly in wonderful resolution. I can select a picture and e-mail it, use it as wallpaper, upload it to a web gallery, or assign it to a contact (I’ll take a person’s photo and assign it; then when that person calls, his or her picture appears).

The criticisms of the iPhone—such as the slowness of the EDGE network and limited storage space—have been more or less correct, but they haven’t really hit the mark. I’m certain the iPhone isn’t for everyone. Your preferences or needs may require a BlackBerry or a Palm or some other such smart phone. But with the recent news of the iPhone SDK (Software Development Kit) allowing third parties to design applications to work with and be installed on the iPhone, plus the future operating system being made enterprise-ready, it might be hard to avoid getting one.

I’m not the only lawyer having a love affair with this thing. Jeff Kabbe wrote his “5 Top Reasons to Own an iPhone” in his blog, AppleBriefs, on November 27, 2007 ( www.applebriefs.com/2007/11/27/5-top-reasons-to-own-an-iphone). Many on the MacLaw list feel the same way. There are two great stories there illustrating that the great thing about the iPhone is that it can be whatever you want it to be and can be used anyway you want (well, I wouldn’t hammer with it, of course):

Grace Suarez of San Francisco, California, is a recent Mac convert who has fallen in love with all parts of that world, but she really has a thing for her iPhone, for good reason:

I came back from Argentina with some footage of the wonderful street tango dancers, made an iMovie on my laptop and ported it to my iPhone. Then I went to visit my 87-year-old mother (advanced dementia, non-responsive). I put the iPhone in front of her and played the video (and fantastic audio). She heard her beloved tangos (she’s Argentine), looked at the video, and a spark came to her eye, and a smile to her face. She was delighted.

Not to be outdone, Troy Haney, a lawyer from Grand Rapids, Michigan, reported his use of the iPhone at the other end of the emotional spectrum:

Last fall I was in NY City with my family for a week; my kids are 10 and 8. We were on the SI Ferry looking back at Manhattan and I brought up 9/11 and the Towers. My 8-year-old daughter seemed confused and really couldn’t understand what I was talking about in my efforts to describe where the Towers would have been from our view. So, I pulled out my iPhone, Googled twin towers, brought up a picture from EXACTLY our vantage point at that moment and held it up to the skyline. That was sooo cool. The picture was one we can all see in our minds eye but to essentially show my daughter an overlay of the skyline with the towers really brought home the gravity of the moment.

These stories certainly don’t deal with the lawyering we do. But we’re first and foremost human beings and family members, and the ways the iPhone can help us make use of our creativity in our private lives will translate into our professional lives as well.

What of future iPhone developments? I’m not astute enough to really understand the ramifications, but people whom I know, trust, and respect are very excited. The SDK will allow for the development of “native” applications, ones that work closely and in tune with the iPhone’s operating system, Mac OS X. Through the use of Microsoft’s ActiveSync for Exchange, the iPhone will be able to support enterprise situations, allowing for push mail and wireless sync of contacts and calendars. The professional uses of the device in larger settings (such as law firms, law schools, etc.) therefore appear endless. In fact, apparently Microsoft has indicated a strong interest in providing its own native applications for the iPhone, perhaps later in 2008. Also coming down the pike is an improvement to the slow-as-molasses speed of EDGE. I like having the EDGE option, but the speed is challenging.

I keep abreast of new Mac (Apple) developments by reading a few blogs nightly and have found several on top of iPhone developments and quite helpful: www.iphoneatlas.com and http://iphone.macworld.com. In fact, the technological world changes so quickly that this summary article could itself be out of date by the time you read it, and you should consult these two websites, Apple’s site ( www.apple.com), and the MacLaw listserve for the latest information. 

Victoria L. Herring practices in Des Moines, Iowa, in an office that has used only Apple/Macs since the early 1980s. She may be reached at .

Copyright 2008

Back to Top

< /