iPhone apps and Flickr nit-picking

The iPhone 3G and firmware 2.0 were released hours after my plane departed for Africa. It was source of great consternation for me, but it did force a kind of critical distance that I rarely have from new technology releases. What did I learn? I learned that I don’t care for critical distance from new technology releases.

I did eventually get to update the firmware on my original iPhone while I was over there, though there was virtually nothing I could do with new apps without good network access. Read: all the battery-sucking issues, none of the benefits. Since I have been back I’ve gotten a 3G, ceding the original phone to my wife who really needed it.

Here’s a list of apps that I’m liking a great deal.

  • AirMe – Takes photos and uploads them automatically to Flickr with geo info (and weather tags, if you want). Works with Facebook too. Here’s a sample photo.
  • Last.fm – Last.fm has always been great, but conceptually is so well-suited to a mobile device. No background apps on the iPhone means it won’t play while you do other stuff (ala the iPod), but them’s the breaks with Apple.
  • MLB.com At Bat – Recently updated to include field and batter infographic overviews. Very well-designed and pretty timely video clip access make this indispensable, even when you’re at the game (especially so at Jumbotron-less Wrigley).
  • Remote – Possibly the most useful app out there, which is probably why Apple got to it first. Creates a slick remote interface for iTunes and Apple TV’s on your LAN.
  • Rotary Dialer – Because you can, that’s why.
  • Shazam – Too-good-to-be-true app that identifies the title and artist of a currently-playing music source (like the jukebox at a bar). Pretty damn accurate and it offers instant links to buy the track. Great party trick potential trying to stump it.
  • Simplify Media – Sets up a server on your machine that allows streaming access to your iTunes library wherever you (or anyone you permit) happen to be. This was cool when it was computer-to-computer, but the ability to stream anything from home to your iPhone is game-changing. Points to a day when the iPod has no storage at all and is just a thin network interface to your cloud of media. Highly recommended.
  • Tetris – Slower to start than the free knock-off (now removed) Tris, but still mesmerizingly addictive. Takes a while to get used to manipulating blocks by finger flick.
  • Twitterific – Not sure I’d even use Twitter if not for the desktop app Twitterific. The iPhone version is just as scrumptious, adding in some location features to boot.

There are a few apps I want to like, but just don’t. NetNewsWire is everything I want in an offline feedreader (with desktop and web synching!), but it is just dog-slow. Takes forever to load my feeds. AIM works fine, but instant messaging just doesn’t work with the no background app paradigm. You can’t give all your focus to chat.

And here are the apps I wish existed.

Backpack – I know 37Signals is all about lightweight web apps, but what I would love is actual offline access with synch.

SMS over IP – We can make phone calls with VOIP, but why not SMS? This may exist and I don’t know it, but with AT&T’s ridiculous messaging fees, why put anything over the voice network you don’t have to?

MarsEdit – On-the-go blog composition. Synching with desktop drafts would be yummy.

A native NPR app.

Google Earth – Why not? The video capabilities are clearly adequate and with the iPhone location abilities seems like a natural.

A great e-reader app. Kindle-screen quality with iTunes store breadth of access? Sign me up.

A stickie note app that synchs at least to a desktop app, preferably to a web app too. Most text pad apps for iPhone do too little (see all the to do list apps in the App Store) or too much (like Evernote, which I tried desperately to like). All I need is stickie notes. ShifD is promising, but right now you can only get it on your phone as a web app. Not ideal at all. If you know of something along these lines, please let me know!


In other news, I’ve been using Flickr a ton lately. The more I use Flickr the more I love it, but it has prompted some critical observations:

  • Video on Flickr is fantastic, but none of the video metadata comes over. This may not be Flickr’s fault, but it breaks the videos-are-just-long-photos thing organizationally.
  • There is a “Replace this photo” option for stills that is very handy when uploading high-res versions of low-res originals. But this function does not exist for video. You have to delete and re-upload, losing all metadata and comments. Boo.
  • Speaking of replacing, it would be great if there were a bulk replace function. Having to do it photo by photo is so … unFlickr.
  • Flickr slideshows do not include video. C’mon!
  • FlickrExport for iPhoto is indispensable, but it does not allow permission-setting (CC, etc). This is a very correctible limitation, it seems to me. (There’s a Facebook export from iPhoto that works just as smoothly).
  • Speaking of iPhoto, why will it not copy video seen from a shared library like it will photos? Annoying!

Phew. Feels good to release some geek.

2 Responses to “iPhone apps and Flickr nit-picking”

  1. Craig says :

    SMS over IP is brilliant. Why doesn’t this exist?

  2. Whit says :

    I have to imagine that AT&T firmly requested that SMS over IP not exist.