iPhone in my hand

I’m in Seattle at the moment, and thought I’d take a minute to remark on this trip. In general, this is the first trip I’ve taken where I’m using mobile tools to stay connected, informed, and in some cases, working.

The key to this is, of course, my iPhone. I find myself using the Google Maps app multiple times per day, including the GPS locater and compass-based orientations. Navigating in real time in a foreign city would be otherwise impossible, but after a few days in San Francisco and now in Seattle, it’s like I’ve been here for years.

Airbnb app
Airbnb iPhone app

I’m booking my accommodations with Airbnb, and using their iPhone app where applicable. Here, I prefer the web interface, but it’s nice to have the app to check updates and messages from the site. Browsing photos of apartments is nice too, since it allows me to swipe left and right rather than click through a million times with mobile Safari.

Speaking of Safari, it’s a pretty gruesome experience in using the web on the go. Many websites — including mine — don’t yet have a specific mobile version, and this factor, combined with terrible 3G speeds, make for an almost unusable experience. Trying to visit a website and download a map of the bus routes, for example, requires a search, a few clicks, and the downloading and viewing of a PDF. No problem on a computer, but messy on a phone. Not sure what we can do to fix this, though. Maybe a better browser which can distill the content and create a mobile version on-the-fly.

Around Me app
Around Me iPhone app

I’m also using an app called Around Me, which shows the location of all manner of things such as restaurants, coffee shops, ATMs, and more. It’s useful! Charmin’s Sit or Squat app is handy for finding a bathroom. But you might as well just search for a Starbucks – half the time that’s the solution.

Sit or Squat app
Sit or Squat iPhone app

agenda app
Agenda iPhone app

I’ve always used iCal to keep track of events, but setting up events now has me thinking with mobile in mind. When I enter an event, I will be sure to include the full address, and a contact phone number in the event notes. This way, the iPhone turns the address into a clickable link which goes right to a map, and the number enables one-click dialing. It’s very seamless and excellent. The app I use is called Agenda, which has a better interface than the default calendar on iPhone

This is the first trip for a while where I didn’t bring a camera. Yes, my camera is broken and I didn’t get to have it fixed, but also, because I have my iPhone. I’ve never been a big fan of camera phones, or the idiots standing around waving their phones in the air, but I’ve developed a decent system of shooting-and-posting my images from the iPhone. If you’re paying attention to Divingtank.com, you’ll see that all the images I shoot end up as blog posts, with the title and description as given. I shoot using Instagram, which is in turn uploaded to Flickr, and an RSS feed is imported into my blog. A new site called If This, Then That has also enabled Instagram photos to appear in my Facebook feed, and saves a copy in my Dropbox. This is actually a really big deal for me because I have — for years — been searching for a better way to get photos from the moment of shooting to the blog without having to manually download, edit, upload, and post, as I’ve been doing for years.

So as the trip continues, I’ll probably discover a few new tools. City-specific tools, for example, are useful when you’re local. Yelp is a website, but also nice for using on the go. But unfortunately, I can’t get any work done from a phone. I believe there is a mobile version of Photoshop, and a WordPress app for creating blog posts, but they just don’t feel right. And thus, a laptop.