Monday, July 14, 2008

iPhone 3G


Forget the super useful GPS, the lightning fast 3G network, and seriously try to forget about the not-so-great battery life. The thing that has me most excited about the new iPhone 3G are all the new applications that are now available. (There is even an application where you can sing into your phone and it will tell you the name of the song, very useful when you've got one stupid line from a song stuck in your head and you can't remember the title)

Yes, I was one of those idiots who stood in line after work for 5 hours on the Friday it came out to get the new iPhone at the 5th Avenue Apple store in Manhattan. At first, Meg and I wondered why on earth we were wasting our Friday night standing in line for a phone. But eventually we made friends with the people around us (standing next to someone for five hours will usually create that kind of bond) and it was kinda like a party with no beer and food catered by street vendors.


The best part about Frank getting a new iPhone was I got his old one! As my Dad pointed out, I suppose I was the only person in that 5-hour line to walk away with a free iPhone! Even though mine isn't a G3, I am still able to access the Application Store and download apps to my phone. I've noticed that apps run the gamut from extremely useful (Mobile Google) to total time-wasters (like our iSabers, that come complete with Star Wars sound effects) and tend towards one extreme or the other. The food apps follow this trend - they're either very useful, or fun for five minutes, then quickly forgotten.

The one Frank and I have gotten the most use out of has been UrbanSpoon. The application detects your city (or you can enter it), and then you "shake" it for a dining suggestion. It breaks it down by neighborhood, cuisine, and price range. If you'd like to stick in your neighborhood, you can scroll down and "lock" it in, and leave the rest up to chance. If you find a restaurant that sounds good, you're one click away from a more detailed description, reviews and links. It's a fun and interesting way to find new restaurants in your city. They are expanding their available cities and their restaurant database via regular updates.

There's also another one called Restaurant Nutrition that I have. This is an interesting concept, but its usefulness to us is limited. Its focus is fast food restaurants - it allows you to find the closest one to you and to access its menu and nutrition facts. So, say you're standing on the street, waiting for the light to change, and suddenly you have a desperate craving for a Big Mac. You can bust out your iPhone, access Restaurant Nutrition, tap "McDonald's" and it will automatically bring up a map pinpointing both your current location and all the McDonald's in your immediate vicinity. Amazing. Even more amazing - after hasten to your nearest McDonald's to satisfy your Big Mac Attack, while you stand in line you can quickly see that your craving will cost you 540 calories, 29 grams of fat, and 1040 grams of sodium. Ouch. A McSalad it is. If you find yourself eating fast food frequently, this would be a helpful application to get. It also keeps a running tally of the calories you've consumed at a fast food joint on any particular day (which could make you think twice before ordering the large fries).


As cool as most of these applications sound, to be honest, I think I've gotten more use out of my iSaber than out of any of the food applications. But there was one food application that I did find useful. However it is a web app (which means I need to access my web browser instead of downloading the application) that has been out for quite some time. It is 101 Cookbooks. You can look up recipes right in the grocery store and get what you need right there on the spot. I'm not going to name any names but I think someone needs to get their developers into gear and start negotiating with Apple's new app store.

Until then I suppose Meg and I will have to make do with our iSaber battles in the aisles of the grocery store and make a grocery list like every body else.

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