Making the most of a jailed iPhone

Written by: John Fiore

Categories: Editorial, Hints & Tips

Until the SDK comes out I’m stuck in envy of my friends who can play games like Labyrinth and use native apps such as iFlickr, iFlix, and MobileChat. Getting used to web apps can be difficult, but I’ve spent a fair amount of time sifting through the obscene amount of web apps that have little or no functionality to find the best.

Instant Messaging: There are a few options here but Meebo easily provides the best experience. It is essentially the same as the other options, however with Meebo you can use your existing account to log into multiple IM accounts at the same time. This however has a secondary purpose that makes it so great. When you’re instant messing with Edge there is a good chance you will get disconnected and miss parts of the conversation. Meebo enables logging when you sign up for an account, so you never miss any part of any conversation, and can refer back to it  at any time. – automatically loads iPhone version upon visit.

Photo sharing: A sometimes forgotten feature of Flickr, Ringo, and other photo sites is the ability to add photos via e-mail. While this method isn’t as snazzy as iFlickr, you do have options of sending your photos with titles, descriptions, tags, and privacy settings. For your own e-mail upload addresses check in your Flickr or Ringo tools section. I suggest adding them as contacts with simple name like “flickr public” and “flickr friends.”

Netflix: While the iPhone does provide full access to the web, some sites are just a pain to navigate in a small screen. Netflix does not have an iPhone specific mobile site, but they do have a plain Jane one that allows full queue management and search functionality. The only drawback with using this site outside of it not looking pretty, is the lack of a webclip icon.

Movie Times: Fandango and MovieTickets both have iPhone sites, but you may find them unintuitive and clunky, taking too long to find a movie in your area. Google however has a less pretty, but much faster solution – which is all the more important when you’re not on a WiFi network. Enter your zip and it shows movies, average ratings and reviews, and links to purchase tickets for multiple theaters in the area.

Your other option is Cinema – A newer webapp I switched to just today that has a great interface and is slightly easier to read than Google Showtimes. The drawback in comparison is the lack of reviews and IMDB links.

TV Times: A simple TV Guide is exactly what it claims to be. It allows you to sort by day or channels, change time zones easily, and search for specific shows.

Games: Unfortunately the nature of web apps limits the control you have for gaming in a browser, so you cannot expect much more than puzzle games and Myst-like point and tap adventures. There are  plenty of TicTacToe games and the like, but frankly it’s silly to do those games on iPhone when you can use a napkin or piece of paper without any load times. I find iSudoku, iPipes, and Bewjewled kill time the fastest in a doctors office or on the train.

Podcasting: To catch the latest podcasts without syncing your phone you can use Podcaster. You can add your favorites directly from your iTunes Library and find new podcasts within the app. The only downside of listening through your browser is that you cannot surf to other places while the file is playing. Some of my favorite podcasts are BuzzOutLoud, Gadgettes, Cranky Geeks and of course The MacCast (/shameless plug).

Passwords: We’ve talked about it many times, and now 1Password can sync to your iPhone and uses unique, secure bookmarks to autofill forms on websites. Your longwindedly secure passwords now don’t have to be typed out! 1Password has an extremely generous trial and is very affordable.

That’s all for now. I will follow up soon with more web apps and tips for making the most out of your iPhone. As as side note, users who bank with Bank of America have an amazing web app that gives you access to your account and finds ATM locations. Definitely worth checking out, even if you use another bank. The side is so good it makes me want to switch over from Commerce.

There are 2 comments on Making the most of a jailed iPhone:

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  1. subcorpus | May 10 2008 - 03:33

    is there a good app (preferably small) for IMing on iPhone …
    i’m not a fan of chatting on webistes …
    but will try meebo in the meantime …
    something like twinkle for the twittering …

  2. ohad | May 19 2008 - 12:08

    its pretty cheap