Saturday, May 03, 2008

iPhone Update 2 of 2

Lets get down to business, why should you jailbreak an iPhone. Well, you just should. It's yours and you should be able to do what you want with it!

An absolute must is the Installer application. This gets you connected to the community of developers who are writing apps that can happily sit on your iPhone and add value to it. I have installed, and uninstalled, a good number and there are a few absolutely essential items and more every day. Unless you have WiFi don't consider this though as your data charges will kill you.

One of the essential apps is a good e-booker reader. I travel almost every week on a plane to Auckland and back and this is pretty much my only down time to read. I tried out two different options, one in the cloud and one locally installed and both are good. With the former, Readdle, you upload books to your web space, either as a file upload or by e-mail (which can be multiple files and with tags) and with the later, you move TXT or HTML files to your iPhone. The only downside of Readdle if of course the relatively slow data connection through Vodafone although the free WiFi at Wellington Airport is handy. I much rather have everything on the web but until NZ gets EDGE or blanket free WiFi, I'm snookered and store my books locally. Once connectivity is sorted though, then mobile devices will really take off and become mainstream. The later, ( is great but does require you to know how to get files into the right directory on the iPhone.

If you're a PC user, like me, there is a question mark over how you get files transferred to the iPhone. It is not like a flash drive that you can just plug in but there is a very simple method using SSH. I use WinSCP, an open source SFTP client and have installed OpenSSH on the iPhone and tie the whole thing together through my wireless network. There are loads of sites with really detailed instructions on how to do this, just Google it.

The benefit of the SSH connection is that I can now store any file in any place and can manage the directory structure myself. Certain apps require a bit of poking around to work but there is nothing too advanced.

There are a good number of cool games to trial out which make use of the tilt features but the old favourities are still the best and there are a number of emulators such as the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo and buckets of ROMs around (although there are some legal issues with ROMs if you don't own the original licence). Good if you're stuck in a airport lounge and want to kill something in the style of Atari.

I should mention that the iPhone is also a phone. I'm not too impressed with the Vodafone connection having been used to Telecoms rock solid coverage; there do appear to be some black spots and calls do drop more often. Nonetheless, the SMS is great and the on screen keyboard is excellent once you learn to trust it; I can now type a message significantly faster that my old phone.

So there you have it. Even when the iPhone gets here legally, you need to break it to get the most out of it, at least for the moment anyway. This device is going to set the standard of design and function for many years to come; in the same way that the Audi TT defined a generation of copy-cat sports cars, this phone will spawn a whole army of increasingly sophisticated models but will stand above them for a good few years still.

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