Yet another roundup of iPhone apps, including Metro Paris and Facebook for iPhone

I’ve always been the “in-between” guy -depending on who I’m talking to, I’m either an expert or an amateur at a particular topic…. the topic is the same, I am the same, what differs is the background and expertise of whoever i’m talking to.  Whether it’s wine, drumming.. or technology.
So the fact that I’ve finally got an iPhone is near-luddite to some friends, and eye-rollingly geeky to others.  The one advantage, however, is I can usually rely on others to have paved some of the way for me.

Which is why I’ve been a bit surprised at how lame some of the iPhone functionality is, giving the massive adoption rate and couple of revisions its gone through.  Yes, Virginia – I’m over the honeymoon phase, and onto the phase where I try to answer my iPhone in my pocket in 3C weather with gloves on, and I miss the call because the only way to answer is to have a bare finger slide across the screen.

I guess I should have known that the battery wouldn’t hold up to several hours worth of Gmapping (useful when wandering around the outskirts of Paris looking for an apartment), but I was pleased to see it will stay alive over night if it’s on 20% of its battery power.

App switching speed is not what is advertised on the slick apple campaigns – but I knew that.  However, it’s really stunning how poorly some apps deal with Edge data transfer rates (app developer’s problem, I know, not Apple’s).  There are several apps – Del.icio.us Bookmakrs for example – tht stall on Edge even though it’s only transferring text!

Music streamers also choke, but that I can understand.  If I’m walking around downtown Paris – bathed in 3G connectivity – my Last.FM will stall every other song.  LiveRadio (Orange’s internet radio app) has a lot of promise, but the load time for the radio station lists is terrible – and it hangs while trying to load, so if you want to answer a phone call during that time, for example, no can do.

Which brings me to my short list of iPhone desires:

  • No copy and paste?…..
  • Streaming radio apps that do not cut off when you switch apps.  Is it that hard to create a background process?  I ask this honestly, not facetiously…..
  • Fast preview loading.  If I want to see a list – of radio stations, bookmarks, whatever – load the text list quickly first.  Once I’ve decided what I want to see, I can wait a little longer to load the full text / image / media.
  • Some sort of password management / keychain.   Wow, wouldn’t it be col if there was an OpenID app for iPhone (haven’t looked yet…)
  • What’s with the volume on the iPod?  My phone calls blow my ears out, but my music – with decent volume on my iPod, sucks on the iPhone….

And so as not to end on a sour note:  As predicted I have become addicted to my iPhone and so here are my essential apps, in case there is anyone stil out there who has yet to get an iPhone or yet to get one of these apps:

  • Facebook for iPhone:  A Facebook junky mostly because my main network is all my friends I left behind in San Francisco, this is a great tool for me.  I saw the ripple effect happen among my friends when they saw my automatic update “Greg installed Facebook for the iPhone”….
  • WritingPad:  A “cursive” way of writing (but don’t think Palm Pilot’s old styls shorthand) that is faster and more reliable.  Works with built-in email, but not other applications.
  • Last.FM / Pandora  / Live Radio:  Three great streaming services – when you have wifi or 3G at your beck and call.  The last is an Orange (France Telecom)-specific app for subscribers only – and to be honest, it’s a bit of a dog.  But it gives you essentiallyt eh same access to online radios around the world that iTunes does – which I have not yet seen on another app (doesn’t mean I’ve done a bunch of searching).
  • Glacon Lite (link opens your iTunes): an addictive and short game.  And for those wondering what the other addictive, colored-ball game is – reMovem Lite.  Also a good one.
  • Metro Paris:  A great iPhone version of the indispensable RATP interactive map.  My biggest complaint is that the iPhone app does not include the full RER lines.
  • Fring:  Initially a Skype (and other chat / VOIP service) gateway, it’s now an all-social-web aggregator/sharing/kitchen sink.  Haven’t tested the latency of Skype voice calls….
  • WordReference (iTunes link): a must for living and working in France
  • NetNewsWire:  Although the only thing really feed is my wife’s blog, and The Daily Blah (no, not that one…)
  • Bookmarks (iTunes link):  An iPhone app for your Del.icio.us booksmarks.  If you’ve got hundreds like I do, you need this to browse them effectively.

Websites with good mobile service:

  • MonRAPT: a simple interface for looking up routes.  A free alternative to the full app described above – designed by my friend Shakaman here at af83.com
  • iBackPack: A CSS hack you have to put into yoru BackPack pages that renders them nicely for the iPhone.

And one to leave on – a new app I discovered putting together this list – Leaflets….. looks good…..

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9 Responses to “Yet another roundup of iPhone apps, including Metro Paris and Facebook for iPhone”


  1. 1 vlad alexa February 18, 2009 at 8:02 am

    “What’s with the volume on the iPod? My phone calls blow my ears out, but my music – with decent volume on my iPod, sucks on the iPhone”

    The iphone headsets are noted on the apple tech specs with a frequency response of 20Hz-20,000Hz and impedance of 32 ohms , which is identical to the ipod headsets , but i can without any doubt state that the iphone headsets are optimized for phone calls the result being a louder and crisper sound on calls in the detriment of music played on them which sounds loud and distorted.

  2. 2 steve mckenzie February 24, 2009 at 11:36 am

    i understand some of your frustrations with the iphone. i agree, some of it does suck.

    however, im still happy in the honeymoon phase and im on my second iphone (2g – 3g).

    the gloves problem is lame. lucky enough for me it does not get crazy cold where i am so i never wear gloves unless im snowboarding which i just turn the ringer off and usually refuse to answer it.

    battery life does suck on the 3g. 2g was way the hell better. 2 or 3x better. shocked me. i handed it down to the wife too :S

    i definitely dont have this volume problem either.

    to do with apps and connections, i usually don’t have this problem with last.fm too much and when i do, its my own wireless providers crappy 3g network.

    yes, lots of crappy apps in the appstore but lots of good ones too.

    still a lot of growing up to do in the iphone dev community but im pretty confident it’s going to get a lot better.

    if you haven’t already, use the pwnage tool and jailbreak your phone. best bet.

  3. 3 Sarah Carman June 29, 2009 at 2:01 am

    i know exactly what you mean when it comes to the shortfalls of the iphone. this is why i am looking to get a blackberry storm… any ideas if this is a better investment?>

  4. 4 Cheap Insurance Guy July 7, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Even though I’m in the insurance industry, read the trade publications, etc., I find I learn FAR more by reading online. Thanks, Marty

  5. 5 Certified Nursing Assistant July 7, 2009 at 11:53 am

    How bad of an idea do you think it would be to buy an iPhone in ebay?

    I doubt I could afford a new one – not responsibly, anyway. But I’m worried I’ll be getting a lemon.

    Any ‘hints’?

    Thank you!

  6. 6 Homeschool Mom July 7, 2009 at 11:56 am

    What’s with the commercials I keep seeing on the ‘new’ iphone? Particularly the video and ‘voice recognition’ features (“To call so-and-so, say “Call So-and-so””)

  7. 7 Intel09 August 28, 2009 at 2:06 am

    I am a novice when it comes to this, good to know there are some knowledgable people here. Saving money is always at the forefront of our minds, but what about the loss of quality we sometimes experience as a result of this. For example, there is no point changing from one telephone network provider to another for the sake of cheaper rates, if you are likely to be charged a massive transfer fee, from the originating company. When we searched for our 0222 numbers provider in the UK, this was made clearer to us.

    Intelesis

  8. 8 CNA Jobs November 10, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    Now that android is getting on more and more phones do you think that these apps will be ported over?

  9. 9 Baby Furniture Dressers February 20, 2010 at 4:47 am

    I just got an iphone after about 6 months of thinking… my major gripe is the battery life… they really need to improve that


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