One of my predictions for 2010 was a rise in dependence on mobile computing. When I say mobile computing, I am not talking about your basic laptop. I am talking smartphones – those pocket-able devices that really shouldn’t be called phones at all (I’m looking at YOU, ATT!)
Smartphones and, in particular, the iPhone have been game changers across the spectrum of users. Applications, much like the little tools that pop out of all corners of a Swiss Army knife, meet any and all needs. Eminently customizable, devices like the iPhone really do serve as high-tech duct tape.
I have become quite dependent upon my iPhone. Initially, it really was more toy to me than anything else. I was dazzled by the big, vibrant display and user-friendly interface – these were new to me, after years of dumb phone and Palm Treo 750 experience. Over time, however, I have stretched its capacity, tested its boundaries and found that it really does have an answer to almost any question.
Take, for example, this past weekend. I went skiing with my family over the kids’ spring vacation. Just before leaving, a Twitter friend asked if he could pass my website on to a friend looking for a lawyer with background in writing and social media. That message first arrived on my iPhone via Boxcar (link here) and I responded there.
On Friday, while wearing my skis and riding on a chairlift, a message popped through on my phone via Google Voice and another message came in through my email from my website’s contact form asking for assistance. Later, I emailed and then phoned the potential client and laid down the groundwork for a proposal.
Over the next couple of days, I received background information via email and conducted research using mobile Safari. I used the built-in Notes app to outline some questions. I used Dragon Dictation (link here) to “write” my initial piece of the proposal while riding in the car and used Documents to Go (link here) to create a Word document and edit the piece to final form. As the client preferred communicating by IM / chat, I downloaded BeeJive (link here) to seamlessly chat on the move.
While I was at it, I checked the weather with Weather Bug (link here), used Navigon’s Mobile Navigator (link here) to get me between destinations and Where (link here), AroundMe (link here) and Siri Personal Assistant (link here) to find decent restaurants and other spots high in the mountains. I passed the time pinning my location in Gowalla (link here) and Foursquare (link here). I videoed the kids on my 3GS iPhone and uploaded the content to Flickr (link here) via the app. I stayed in touch with online friends via Tweetie 2 (link here) and Facebook (link here). When I could get signal, my husband and I stayed in touch on the mountain by SMS.
Although I didn’t personally download it, my husband loaded the iSki app (link here), which provides snow condition reports, your downhill speed, vertical feet, and the location of other members of your party on the mountain by their cell phone numbers and GPS.
Because of its extreme versatility, I was able to use both native programs and download new applications to get the job done. No laptop required.
Although I didn’t use the applications during this particular weekend, I have in the past used Westlaw’s mobile webpage interface and Fastcase (link here) to research and send legal information to clients. From my phone, while moving from one place to another.
Think about this: a phone that can cover pretty much any material need and, if you don’t have a particular ability or tool installed, you can find and download one as the need arises. You can even delete that functionality later and add different features. On the fly.
It really is no wonder that smartphone sales have sky rocketed. Who wants to put a laptop in their pocket while riding a ski lift?