iPhone 3G: My First Impressions

Yes – I am as surprised as you that I waited this long to get an iPhone. You can revoke my geek cred if you like – but I had bills to pay. However, the old cell was dying, I really wanted to upgrade to some kind of smart phone, and the iPhone ended up being the cheapest true smart phone out there now (I’ve been on AT&T for years with no problems). So I took the plunge.

And spent most of the weekend playing with the crazy thing! Many of the features of the iPhone are well know. I would have to agree with many that the killer app on the iPhone is the App Store. That is what I spent most of my time playing with.

Much has been said about the apps that add games or to-do lists to your phone or what ever. Those are nice. But what was cool for me were the apps created to interface with websites like FaceBook and Ebay. Which may seem weird to some since there is a web browser on there. But think about the size of the screen on the iPhone. Sure, you can zoom in, but surfing sites like Facebook and Ebay are still a pain. No problem – just download the free app for your favorite site (if they have one), and then log in. You get a one touch login for site, and most of the information from the site is re-formated to fit on your iPhone screen. I was checking eBay auctions, writing on friends walls, and Twittering away all while walking around the house.

Even cooler is how the applications can interact with weach other. I could take a pic with the camera and upload it to faceBook or Flickr or even set it as my AIM avatar. The GPS locator is also a plus, especially when used in conjunction with free Yellow Pages app. In a new neighborhood and hungry for Chinese food? Look up what is near you, pick a highly rated one, and get turn by turn directions to get there. Nice. Unfortunately, there is no free app for Wikipedia, RSS feeds, or Flickr (yet), but the ones that are available are pretty cheap. Twitter was just a ‘meh’ aplication to me until I started being able to send updates from anywhere (I’ve always been too cheap to buy texting plans… pay to send little burst of data through a phone? What a rip-off!). Most apps are still new, and so they don’t have everything, but they are getting there.

The ability to realize “anytime, anywhere” education is greatly expanded by the apps, especially since others are rushing to copy the iPhone. Think about it – have your students do a scavenger hunt. Or maybe have them create a mobile blog (WordPress app is free and nice)? How about intergrate their everyday life in to their learning activities? “As you travel around town today, look for examples of ______ art influence, or _____ policy on city planning, and take a pic and send it to me with 500 words on why it is_____”.

I wish that LMS companies would spend more time creating apps for mobile phones rather than FaceBook apps that don’t seem to be popular or well accepted. Something like this would fit well in to my evolving view fo LMS programs, something I need to blog on soon the in the future.

Matt Crosslin
Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

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