What’s in My Iphone? – Munindra Khaund

iPhone Home ScreenOver the past several months I have been experimenting with the iPhone. My research has been two-fold:

  • iPhone as a productivity tool
  • iPhone in education

Who am I and why should my research matter?
I’m a coordinator for instructional support and training. My team and I provide training/consultation/support in the area of productivity and new media. Our audience base is wide – faculty, staff, and students. Our team members hold industry certifications in their area of expertise, publish papers, present at national/international conferences, and conduct workshops nationally/internationally. Outside of work we are actors, musicians, mothers, pet lovers, and volunteers.

iPhone as a productivity tool

Last year the CIO approved the purchase of an iPhone for research purposes. This departmental resource has allowed me to effectively accomplish the following day-to-day tasks:
1. Email – Webmail access
2. Web Surfing – Mostly trade-related information on the WWW. In fact the iPhone has been my primary source for accessing the Internet outside of my office.
3. iPod – Yes, the iPhone functions as an iPod

player too. I sync podcasts from UIS on iTunes U.
4. Camera+Photos – Taken several snapshots of campus including ITS sessions and promotions. Also use it for slideshows.
5. Weather – Weather check, first thing in the morning.
So, what’s the big deal? Any computer can do this. Yes, I agree. But I surely cannot carry the computer on my hip, carry it around with my fingers, tap on the screen, etc.

Although the iPhone comes with several additional applications, the above listed are my Top-5. Maps and SMS are two other functions I use frequently. The least used functions are Stocks and Calculator. I will confess that I love the way the simple pocket calculator converts into a scientific calculator when I rotate the iPhone.

What, no keyboard? No problem. There are basically two kinds of keyboard users, 1) users who look at the screen as they type, and 2) users who look at the keys when they type. I fall into the second category because I am a two-finger typist. When I use the keyboard on the iPhone, I use my index finger supported by the thumb. I was never a Blackberry user and did not have to un-learn two-finger tactile typing. The software for the keyboard is intelligent, it suggests words as you type, it adjusts to different applications and layouts, and has 21 international [language] layouts.  Read more about the iPhone keyboard.
Note: Interesting project on iPhone-haptics at the Computing Science Department of the University of Glasgow, Scotland.
Any other concerns? I was worried about dropping the phone and scratching it accidentally. I purchased a case for the iPhone that lessened my fears. I should have also applied a screen protector on the surface to avoid the samosa effect but things are not too bad on the screen. What’s the samosa effect? Contact me for a cultural [food] lesson.

And then there was iPhone 2.0.

With the new iPhone upgrade my work-related experience has become much better. ITS set up my iPhone to sync with Outlook [both email and calendar] and now my email, calendar, notification, meeting request, etc., work seamlessly. No more webmail, u-hooo! Read more in iPhone enterprise integration.

Here’s what I like about the iPhone and my work email –

  • Connects to Exchange
  • Push email
  • Access address book
  • Access my folders
  • Sync my calendars

PowerPoint to iPhone. Doable? But of course! And what about projection? Plug a composite AV cable to a television or projector. Voila! Read more about iPhone technical specifications.

By the way, Twitterrific is cool!

iPhone in education

When I upgraded the iPhone my user experience has changed. Most of my time on the iPhone is currently spent on reviewing apps with a focus on education. My sample and brief reviews are on free apps only.

  • Karajan Beginner – This is the free version of Karajan ear training application. The lessons are organized in a manner that helps recognize intervals, chords, scales, etc. You can use the iPhone as keyboards while you go through your lessons. How cool is that! I have no background in music and the tool seemed somewhat advanced to me. But I said I have no formal background in music. Uh-huh, I see potential.
  • iLingo Spanish – Talking language phrase book organized in categories such as Greetings, Shopping, Emergency, etc. You see the phrase in English, Spanish, and you can listen to the pronunciation. Emphasis on see and listen, especially important when it comes to language acquisition.
  • Molecules – Three dimensional viewing of molecules. A more extended set of modules would be helpful, and perhaps labels. Not my area of expertise but I would think the possibility of viewing each module allows for pedagogical observations.
  • Scribble – That’s what it is, scribble. I have used this application to sketch up ideas during my meetings or show an interface draft for a new media project. I wished for an erase button and wondered why they would not provide one. Lo and behold, shake-shake-shake…
  • Shakespeare – The complete works of Shakespeare. I especially like the ability to increase the size of the font for easier viewing. Okay, I’ve read Hamlet several times and I still like it. Give me a break, will you? Okay, you tell me what is the difference between reading Shakespeare, viewing a [stage] play on Shakespeare, and watching a film on one of the plays? Aha. Now you’ll give me a break.

The iPhone opens up new possibilities for education and I’m excited!

In 2002, I collaborated with a faculty member to load course-related supplemental material [text and audio] into the iPod. Students accessed this material via their iPods. Emphasis on any time, anywhere learning. The experiment [although somewhat of a controlled group of students] was successful. And have we come a long way with the iPhone!

Fast-forward to 2008.

With the iPhone, imagine being out in the field conducting research, say, archeological digs. You take a picture of an artifact with your iPhone, upload the image online, assign tags and related metadata, geo tag the image, etc. The rest is icing on the cake, I mean, learning in the new media environment.
Note: Anyone checked the “50 Useful iPhone Tips for Librarians and Researchers”?

How about, “Kindle, schmindle. The best e-book reader money can buy is the iPhone (ditto the iPod touch).”?
Remember that apps run on the iTouch too. The iTouch has all the capabilities as the iPhone but it is not a phone. Huh? Learn more about the iTouch.

All work and no play?

When things go crazy, I play BubbleWrap. Once you start, you cannot stop!

Okay, I confess that I have spent some time playing [not during work hours, in case my boss is reading this] on the iPhone. The games I have downloaded to the iPhone are free and a few that I like are Cube Runner, Labyrinth, and Tap Tap. There are other apps that I have downloaded, which are not necessarily games but I use them on a regular somewhat basis. These apps are Yelp, Tomatoes, Save Benjis, etc.

Tap-tap. What’s in my iPhone?

For my organizational purposes, I have organized my iPhone screens as home, news, media, and apps. Thanks to the upgrade because I can take screenshots of my iPhone. Isn’t that special! More iPhone tips and tricks.

iPhone Home Screen iPhone News Screen iPhone Media Screen iPhone Apps Screen
There you have it. My life on the iPhone. I have this uneasy feeling of exposing this personal space on the WWW. Is it possible to analyze an individual by the applications she/he has on her/his iPhone?

What’s missing from the iPhone?

The are two items missing from the iPhone, 1) a built-in projector and 2) copy/paste.

Yes, I can hook up my iPhone to a TV or a projector. However, I wish the iPhone had a built-in projector. Wow, imagine the possibilities!

With regard to copy/paste, MagicPad [app from Proximi] is waiting for approval at the App Store. The app will make copy and paste possible on the iPhone. The limiting factor is that is does not allow copy/paste between applications. [UPDATE: iPhone has copy/paste with version 3.0. Check!]


Disclaimer: For all official purposes, this research was not funded by Apple or the University of Illinois, Springfield. Apple and University of Illinois, Springfield, are not responsible for my research and the resulting results. I always wanted to say that, resulting results. Is that proper English? If you have any comments, questions, suggestions, please email me, Munindra Khaund, at munindra.khaund@uis.edu and in all seriousness, let’s exploit this tool better.

This article was written in August 2008. Since then, there have been several updates to the iPhone and its applications.

Need help configuring your iPhone to access UIS resources? View ‘the iPhone at UIS’ page.