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November 03, 2011
My Newest Productivity Tool
Well, I've had the 'new' iPhone 4S for almost three weeks now. After struggling through two and a half years with a Blackberry Curve, it is so refreshing to have a phone that doesn't get hung up and require rebooting ten times a day. (Full disclosure: I dropped it in the Flathead River not long after I got it and I'm sure that had plenty to do with the problems I encountered.) Additionally, the productivity tools are impressive despite the fact they are (at present) underutilized by yours truly.

First, the much-hyped Siri function is fun. Maybe not as 'intelligent' as Apple wants us to believe, but it is fun. My biggest issue with Siri is not its (her?) limitations, but my reluctance to retrain myself to verbalize my commands on a phone vs. typing them in. The biggest obstacle? My obsession with grammar. Yep, I need to be sure every letter is capitalized, every apostrophe is in its rightful place, and all other punctuation is correct. Because of this, I still have to proofread everything I instruct Siri to send out on my behalf. That kinda defeats the purpose of the whole thing. Regardless, Siri is good for certain things, and other websites and blogs go into much more detail than I will here.

The email function on the iPhone is where I've noticed my biggest gains in productivity. I have several work-related email addresses - they all funnel into the iPhone's email program, and I can choose to see them all in one big inbox or specific to each account. Additionally, I can see any and all attachments that are sent with the email, a huge step-up from my former phone. This benefit is extremely beneficial when I'm out of the office and need to review a time-sensitive closing statement or purchase agreement.

So far, I haven't had any issues with call quality. A big knock with prior versions of the iPhone was the reception challenges of the antenna and the volume of dropped calls. Being on the other end of countless dropped calls with associates who owned iPhones, this was my biggest concern. So far, so good; it appears Apple did in fact resolve the antenna issues.

In addition to my life becoming much more organized thanks to the comprehensive yet simplistic calendar, notes, reminders, and contacts functions, the iPhone is just plain fun. I purchased an inexpensive application that allows me to track all my mountain bike rides via GPS and share them with my friends. I can access all 54,000 songs on my external hard drive via my broadband connection, allowing me to listen to anything in my music library via my iPhone. The scanner function allows me to check prices in the store to see if the same product can be found elsewhere less expensively.

Probably the most impressive feature with the new iPhone is the camera. At long last, I enjoy taking pictures again. When I needed to carry a separate electronic item to capture pictures, I rarely bothered leaving home with my camera. Now, my kids are back to rolling their eyes at me on a daily basis when I want them to pose for another shot. The photo quality is stunning, and there are a myriad of apps that allow me to do all kinds of things with the photos I take. The way I look at it, I saved myself several hundred dollars through not needing to buy another camera, as the one we have would be considered antiquated in this day and age.

So...overall I give the iPhone an "A". It does everything I expected it to, and I've been pleasantly surprised by some functions I didn't know about when I committed to the purchase. As I wrote in a prior blog post, my biggest litmus test was going to be whether it improved my efficiency and productivity at work. Undeniably, I can say the answer is 'yes'.

After all, what good is a 'smart' phone if it doesn't allow you to work smarter???

Make it a great day.


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