Sunday, August 26, 2007

iPhone: Fake it, until you can make it


So you didn't get an iPhone? Sorry. Maybe it was the cost. Maybe it was your cell phone contract. Maybe it's AT&T's coverage where you live. Or maybe you just don't like buying a 1.0 version of anything. For me, it's all the above.

However, with all those smug people walking around with their $600 Newton 3.0's you can one-up them. What you have right now can be better than an iPhone. Yes I said it--you're better than they are. At least my therapist is telling me to deal with my jealously by saying this.

Let's start with the iPod. How can you extend the capabilities of your iPod to compete with the iPhone? Yeah, you'll need to carry your phone and iPod around, but if you drop your iPod or your phone you're still out much less money. Unlike your cell phone, the iPhone doesn't come with accidental damage insurance like other cell phones. For a few bucks a month and a fifty dollar deductible, I'm back in business after a date with the pavement.

Don't forget that the iPhone holds much less music than your standard iPod. A four gig iPhone isn't going to carry much stuff, but a well configured iPod has music, podcasts, videos, and more. Size is an issue! What's the point of a iPhone if it neuters your digital lifestyle?

With all that extra space on your full iPod what can you put on it? Want to watch YouTube videos on your iPod? No problem, Jax by Joesoft (a division of Prosoft Engineering) does that! It installs into iTunes and allows you to easily transfer videos to your iPod. Not only will it do that, but it will synchronize your Apple Mail, Word Documents, and PDFs. Heck, it will even download weather forecasts, driving directions, gas prices, movie showtimes, and stock quotes. Apparently the 3.0 version will tell you the next president, but Joesoft is working out the bugs on that (just kidding...maybe). Oh, and Jax works with an iPhone too, but that's kind of redundant. While Jax's content can't be updated live, that's've got your mobile phone for that. Be sure to check out Andy Inkahto's "iPod Fully Loaded" which will help you get even more out of your iPod.

Flipping over to the phone side, most modern mobile phones have the ability to surf the web and that ability will close the gap for live content for when you haven't synced with Jax. Google is the leader in mobile content. Point your cell phone browser to to access most of Google's content in a format easy to read on most devices. This means that you not only can you do searches, but you can access your email, calender, driving directions, movie times and even live YouTube videos. Be sure to use Spanning Sync to sync your iCal with your Google calendar so you have your iCal on both the phone and the iPod. This all sounds very iPhonish to me--without buying anything new. More advanced phones that support J2ME can download Google apps to give a complete Google experience on the phone. Who needs Safari if you can access all of Google? Things don't look pretty on your average mobile phone...but considering the iPhone is using previous generation data speeds, using your Razr on a 3G network phone means you can't read the New York Times as pretty as on an iPhone, but you'll be done reading in half the time!

What about some of the cool features like visual voice mail that lets you pick out individual voicemails to listen to? Not a problem. Sign up with GotVoice at This service in both free and paid versions will retrieve your cell phone voice mails and put them in MP3 format to download. After signing up go to and pick and choose which mp3 to listen to. Can't listen to mp3s on your cell phone? No problem, just use and Simulscribe will transcribe your voicemails and send them to you in SMS format. With the iPhone you can only read who sent you the message, with Simulscribe you can actually read the message. you need a hanky...are you actually crying?

Ah, but what about when Steve Jobs showed off finding Calamari in San Francisco (yuck, calamari). He searched for "seafood". No problem. Send an SMS message to 46645 with the parameters "seafood restaurant, San Fransisco" and get a Google listing back with local places. Ironically, when I did this the top result was Farallon, which any Mac historian can tell you happens to be the name of a very famous Mac company that invented the PhoneNet connectors and Timbuktu Pro - which became part of Netopia and now Motorola, which is a cell phone company!

With a few key websites and pieces of software, you can simulate much of the iPhone experience without having to trade in either your phone or iPod. Want both at the same time? Superglue and Velcro are possible options, but do that at your own risk. That hybrid , though, still probably weighs less than the iPhone. Be proud you aren't burdened with the limitations of an iPhone...until your cell phone contract runs out at least. Then feel free to look down upon the rest of us with your new iPhone!

Article was republished by the Lawrence Apple User's Group 2.0 here as well as other groups listed on the right