Sunday, March 01, 2009

Software and Book Review: iPhone the Missing Manual, iPhone Book App

Software and Book Review: iPhone the Missing Manual, iPhone Book App

I fondly remember the Seinfeld episode in which Kramer was developing a coffee table book...about coffee tables, so when I read about an iPhone book on the iPhone, I simply had to review it. Not that there is anything wrong with that, no of course not!

As an application, "iPhone the Missing Manual" was difficult to navigate at first. Instead of scrolling up and down to move from page to page, you swipe from left to right in order to move to the next page, much like turning a page of a book. Once I understood this design element, navigating was fine. Ideally, the program should have had a initial welcome screen explaining how to move around within the program. The text of the book was extremely clear to read and quickly rendered when turning pages. Other text programs I've used in the past had annoying delays going from page to page. However, the initial opening of the app the very first time I launched it had an abnormal delay of up to a minute, and I thought the app was hung.

While reading the book, I was able to quickly leave the program, check a function, and reenter without crashing. In addition, the URLs listed in the book were live and could be double clicked and opened in Safari. The table of contents was live and clicking on an entry took you to that portion in the book. The only major function lacking from a true print book was an index. The book also didn't tell you when it was at the end, which was annoying. The applications come with limited preferences to allow you to modify the colors and fonts of the book. The biggest problem with the book as an iPhone app was that it was inexplicably missing a search function.

David Pogue's writings in the entire Missing Manual series are always easy to understand and comprehensive in analysis. I reviewed the earlier edition of iPhone Missing Manual and Pogue did an excellent job of covering the new functions of the 3G iPhone as well as Mobile Me and the App store. Peppered throughout the book are handy tips that even advanced iPhone users may not know. Pogue adds quite a bit of information on how to use your iPhone in a corporate environment and connect to corporate resources as well as help you to convince your IT department to let you get an iPhone. Also expanded was the syncing and general troubleshooting section, though trying to troubleshoot your iPhone via an iPhone app might prove difficult.

Pros: Unique product for learning how to use your iPhone anytime anywhere
Cons: Slow and confusing upon first use, no search function

Four out of Five DogCows


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