Monday, July 27, 2009

iPhone's Lackluster Performance as Communication Hub for World Tour

The first and longest part of our world tour is now officially finished. During this part of our trip I used a jailbroken first-generation iPhone as my personal communication hub. I chose this device because it is extremelly portable and I believed that it would enable me to capture snapshots, lo-res video, and audio snippets, it would serve as a platform for the posting of journal entries, it would support the tracking of our budget, and it would allow us to take a good amount of our favorite music and videos with us on the trip.

I knew that there were many downsides to selecting the iPhone as my communication platform. The main ones of which I was aware were limited functionality and application availability compared to a laptop or netbook, and small form factor which makes it tiring to use for development of longer form content (I guess the content I developed is more like mid-form content).

So how did the iPhone do? The results were mixed and if I had to do it over again I would definitely bring along a netbook to complement this device as a communication hub.

The shortfalls were many. First and foremost, much of the iPhone's functionality is dependent on the availability of wireless internet connections and does not support connection to online via ethernet ports. This was an issue due to the scarcity of wireless connections (both cell-based and wifi) throughout the trip. Thus, when I would write blog posts using the notes application there was no way for me to transfer this content to computers that had hardline internet connections. This was by far the biggest issue I encountered.

Other inconveniences included the lack of cut and paste functionality, problems with the video application on my phone, and issues related to storage space (which I was eventually able to overcome using the terminal application on the phone).

On the positive side, the iPhone featured applications that met most, though not all, of my requirements - the picture, blogging and financial tracking applications were usable and useful. The jailbroken phone also worked well with local GSM sim cards, enabling me to stay in touch with my friends throughout the trip.

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