Each new iPhone has offered fresh and fantastical ways to improve your daily life, but the epic tag-team of the iPhone 4 and iOS 4 deliver the greatest set of tools and features to date. With the introduction of FaceTime video calls, multitasking, and the high resolution Retina display, the iPhone 4 has moved even further away from being just a powerful phone and web-surfing device. Now more than ever, the iPhone is a true lifestyle-enhancing accessory.
Between the built-in features and the hundreds of thousands of options in the App Store, not to mention a few key accessories, the iPhone 4 can be figuratively formed and changed to fit your daily needs, whether you’re planning your daily commute, knocking out items on your to-do list, or simply looking to try a new restaurant. With this wide-ranging versatility in mind, we’ve come up with 40 ways in which the iPhone 4 can improve--or help you break free from--your daily routine, whether you’re at home or work, or out enjoying the world around you.
Wake up with the iPhone and your day will be "phenomenal. Magical."
Standalone alarm clocks are a thing of the past! You can use the built-in Clock app on your iPhone to set multiple alarms and customize them to your needs and preferences. You can choose the sound (including any custom ringtone) and label the alarm, as well as decide whether you’ll be able to tap the screen for snooze and if the alarm should repeat on the same day each week. Nobody likes waking up, but at least you can do it on your own terms.
Depending on where you call home, each new day can bring a meteorological surprise, so stepping outside without a quick check of the impending weather can yield painful results. The iPhone has a simple, built-in Weather app that offers localized results, but for a more in-depth forecast, you can grab The Weather Channel app (free, pictured), WeatherBug (free), or one of several regional-focused options. Don’t leave home without it!
If you rely on public transit to get to and from work each weekday, you know the uncertain wait for trains and buses can be soul-draining. No more! Many transit systems have apps that offer time estimates on buses and/or trains, like Buster ($0.99, pictured) for Chicago or MuniApp 2 ($0.99) and BART Live Arrivals (free) for the Bay Area. With that knowledge, you’ll know whether you have time to grab a bagel--or a few more minutes of sleep!
Most blogs and websites have RSS feeds, which make it really easy to catch up on all your favorite posts and updates in one place. Several great RSS readers are available on iPhone, including Reeder ($2.99, pictured), Byline ($4.99), and NewsRack ($4.99), which update in a heartbeat and offer a complete listing of the latest updates from the sites you picked. Creating a Google Reader profile and using that login is easiest, but many apps also let you add RSS feeds directly.
Need to make a call or pull up a particular album or playlist while driving to work? Thanks to the Voice Control feature in iOS 4, your iPhone can use speech recognition technology to execute commands on the fly. Simply hold the home button for a few seconds to trigger the feature, and then say a command like “Dial [Name]” or “Previous Track” and watch the magic happen. You might want to stick to touchscreen commands on a busy train, though!
Thanks to an app called Text’n Drive ($9.99), you don’t have to take your eyes off the road (or hands off the wheel) to hear the contents of your latest emails. Simply connect the app to your email account, leave the app running, and it’ll read off the text of your fresh emails. The free version reads only the first 45 words of an email message, but the Pro version reads much more and even lets you speak out a reply.
Several great accessories are available to make it easy for you to safely use features of your iPhone 4 while driving. One that does everything at once is Griffin’s WindowSeat HandsFree ($39.99, griffintechnology.com), which mounts an iPhone-holding apparatus on your windshield or dashboard, giving easy access to the phone for Google Maps or GPS applications. Additionally, the stand has a hands-free mic for calls and voice commands, and an auxiliary cable to plug into your car’s speaker system.
Internet streaming radio stations have been available on iPhone since the launch of the App Store, but with iOS 4’s multitasking feature, you can play music in the background while you continue to surf the web and use other apps. Pandora Radio (free, pictured) is the biggest name of the bunch, as its artist recommendation system builds stations around your favorite bands, but Last.fm (free) is another similar option, and Clear Channel’s iheart radio (free) delivers hundreds of over-the-air stations.
We can’t think of a better way to kill a commute than to play one of the iPhone’s thousands upon thousands of available games. Our list of favorites could fill this issue, but here are a few to start you off: fowl-flinging, structure-toppling hit Angry Birds ($0.99); faux-Scrabble favorite, Words With Friends ($2.99); crumbling-rooftop escape adventure, Canabalt ($2.99); zombie-bashing lawn protection sim, Plants vs. Zombies ($2.99); and platform-hopping pick, Doodle Jump ($0.99, pictured).
Save money (and trees) by reading the free digital version of many top newspapers on the iPhone, including the New York Times (pictured), USA Today, The Guardian, and The Wall Street Journal. BBC News (free) is another great app, especially for those seeking worldwide updates, and apps like NPR News (free) and Discovery News (free) offer other ways to find targeted news updates. Impress your coworkers around the water cooler by rattling off top headlines!
Next Page: Apps for Work »
Make your little pocket computer work as hard as you do.
The iPhone’s Calendar app (pictured) is a straightforward way to keep track of your various meetings and appointments, and it’s very easy to create events and customize them to alert you, repeat as needed, and more. Better yet, you can sync your Outlook calendar via iTunes, or a Google Calendar account through the Exchange email settings. And if you need a more robust calendar app, try CalenGoo ($6.99), which also syncs up with Google Reader.
One of the iPhone 4’s most important (and noticeable) additions is the front-facing camera, which makes video calls a reality via the included FaceTime feature. Now you can see the person you’re talking to on the oth=er end, assuming he or she has an iPhone 4. Imagine calling the babysitter during lunch and seeing your smiling kid, or sharing ideas and images with a business associate. With millions of iPhone 4 units sold and more moving each day, you’re likely to have a few FaceTime partners in no time!
Posting comments and interacting with friends on social networks has become perhaps the biggest work distraction in recent years (we mean that in a good way), and you don’t even need to be at your computer to share the experience. What’s your network of choice--Twitter (pictured)? Facebook? MySpace? All three have free official apps that skillfully bring each site’s appeal to the iPhone screen. Don’t let the lack of a nearby computer halt your procrastination!
It’s probably fair to assume only students carry calculators around, but when you need to solve a quick equation on the go, simply load up the built-in Calculator app. Using it is a breeze, and turning the iPhone sideways reveals a wide array of symbols for more advanced applications. Need something more? The awesome WolframAlpha ($1.99, pictured) app uses a powerful calculation engine to solve complex equations, as well as offer facts and stats on a wide array of topics.
Being stuck at work doesn’t mean you should be without the latest sports scores, or even streaming audio and video. MLB At Bat 2010 ($14.99, pictured) is a perfect example of how to make a killer sports app, as it offers streaming radio and TV game feeds, detailed scoring and recaps, and a whole lot more. The NBA has a solid free app that is updated during basketball season, as well, or you can check out apps like ESPN ScoreCenter and Sportacular (both free) for scores for nearly any sports league.
Heard some catchy little ditty while on a lunch break or on hold for some excruciatingly long period of time? Innovative apps like SoundHound (free, pictured) and Shazam (free) can help! Both apps are able to listen to a few seconds of a song and tell you the artist and song title, but SoundHound goes one step further by letting you hum a song with generally strong results. And naturally, both apps will helpfully point you towards the iTunes Store to purchase the track in question.
When the boss asks you to spend the afternoon running around town on errands, don’t waste time and paper printing out directions. Just fire up the built-in Google Maps (pictured) app, have it find your current location, and let the uber-powerful app work its magic with detailed step-by-step directions. And if you’re looking for something a bit more complex (especially for driving), both TomTom U.S.A. ($39.99) and CoPilot Live USA ($4.99) are worthwhile App Store options.
Whether you’re endlessly snacking in front of a computer or picking up fast food, it’s pretty easy to lose track of how many calories you’re taking in over the course of an afternoon. Keep yourself honest with apps like the LiveStrong Calorie Tracker ($2.99, pictured) and FitClick ($3.99), both of which offer massive listings of food and simple-to-understand interfaces. By knowing your calorie intake, you’ll be less likely to grab that 4 p.m. candy bar or bag of chips. Well, hopefully.
When a great idea strikes at a moment’s notice, the iPhone’s built-in Voice Memo and Notes features offer a great way to save it for later. But even better options--namely Evernote (free, pictured) and Simplenote (free)--are available for storing your notes and files and transporting them between devices, including your computer and iPad. Now you can carry your essential notes everywhere in the palm of your hand and always be prepared, even without a laptop or briefcase.
Just a couple of accessories can make your iPhone 4-at-work experience that much more comfortable. Apple’s iPhone 4 dock ($29) is a stylish way to keep your phone charged throughout the day, or you can try out the Scosche reviveLITE II ($29.99), which lets you dock your phone directly to a wall outlet without extraneous cords. And definitely consider the Pogo Stylus ($14.95) from Ten One Design, which saves your iPhone 4 Retina display from fingerprints and other gunk.
Next Page: Apps for the Evening »
Eat, drink, and be iPhony.
Had everything on the menu at your usual spot? Try somewhere new with the help of the iPhone 4’s many fantastic restaurant-finding apps. Yelp! (free, pictured) is a popular option, as it serves up user reviews and other details for nearby places, or you can leave it up to chance with UrbanSpoon (free), an app that serves up different recommendations with each shake of the phone. LocalEats ($0.99) is another great option, as it offers a listing of the 100 top places in each major city it serves.
The Nike+iPod Sport Kit helps runners keep track of their progress and stay motivated along the way, and the iPhone 4 and 3GS come pre-loaded with the app (pictured) needed to interact with the sensor you place in your shoe ($19, apple.com). If you can do without the frills, lower-cost options like RunKeeper Pro ($9.99) and iMapMyRun+ ($4.99) simply use GPS to track your distance and estimate stats. Whatever your route, make sure you pick up an iPhone 4 armband before you run!
Not only does the iPhone 4 sport a new front-facing camera, but the back camera has been bumped up to 5 megapixels, which allows for much larger and clearer photos than ever before. Of course, you can send them to friends via email or SMS messages, but another great option is to start a Flickr.com account and share them with the world. Flickr’s free iPhone app (pictured) lets you upload and organize your photos with ease, as well as view friends’ photos and albums.
It always happens--you’re at dinner with friends and the conversation shifts to some movie, song, athlete, or other miscellaneous thing that everyone sort of remembers but cannot name. No sweat! Use whatever clues you’ve conjured up and check Wikipedia Mobile (free), the app version of the know-it-all web encyclopedia. Also helpful is the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) app (free, pictured), and if all else fails, just Google it from your iPhone web browser of choice.
Planning a cozy night in front of the warm glow of the television? The iPhone has several apps to kick-start your viewing experience, like i.TV (free, pictured), which includes comprehensive channel listings for your area and can even double as a remote control for select DVRs and Roku boxes. DirecTV subscribers get the deluxe treatment, with their own app (free) containing listings and the ability to remotely schedule DVR recordings from just about anywhere.
Prefer a lavish evening of wining and dining? Don’t spend more than you’ve got--keep tabs on your accounts through a handful of helpful apps. Major institutions like Bank of America, Citibank, and Chase let you check your balances via free apps, giving you a heads-up before you hit that ATM. For a more comprehensive look at your ongoing finances, consider the Mint.com (free, pictured) app, which stores all of your accounts and investments in one secure, readily updated location.
Got errands to run but don’t want to leave the comfort of your couch? Don’t worry--several notable shopping websites have sharp iPhone apps that let you find what you need and order it immediately from the app. Amazon Mobile (free, pictured) serves up the popular website’s inventory at your fingertips with easy browsing and ordering, while the eBay Mobile (free) app lets you place bids and track auctions in a heartbeat.
Of course, beyond all these wonderful features and apps, the iPhone is still a phone at heart, so don’t hesitate to store loads of contacts and use up as much of your plan’s minutes as you can! But for international calls, consider Skype (free, pictured), the popular Internet calling program. Calls can be made over Wi-Fi or 3G, and rates for calls abroad are typically much cheaper than AT&T. Plus, with multitasking in iOS 4, you can leave Skype running in the background and receive calls!
With the addition of the Retina display, the iPhone 4 is the best phone on Earth for reading, and Apple’s own iBooks (free, pictured) app offers up hundreds of thousands of books to preview and purchase on the fly. Plus, you can sync your bookmarks and pick up on the iPad without losing your spot! Amazon’s Kindle app (free) is another great option, and with both, you can swap to a white-on-black display for easier night reading without subjecting your significant other to a sleep-disrupting lamp.
Heavy iPhone 4 users might find themselves charging the device every night, but you don’t have to have a stray cord lying by the bed. Several smart docks are available, including Sony’s compact Dream Machine ($69.99, sonystyle.com), which doubles as an AM/FM clock radio and has a retractable iPhone/iPod dock for charging and playing music through the speakers. Many other options are available in various shapes, sizes, and price levels, so shop around for the one that best fits your needs!
Next Page: Apps for the Weekend »
Make the most of your two days of freedom, with the iPhone as your cruise director.
Eager to see that hot new film everyone’s been raving about? (You know the one.) Luckily, you can set up the entire event from your iPhone, thanks in large part to the easy to use Fandango app (free, pictured). Fandango contains movie listings for most theaters, and many places let you purchase tickets directly from the app. And though it may seem silly, the iPhone can even tell you the best times to run to the bathroom--just consult the free, aptly-named RunPee Mobile app for suggestions.
If you’re planning on hitting the town but don’t want to leave your beloved canine companion at home, worry not: Appetyte’s Fido Factor app (free, pictured) is like Yelp for dogs, spotlighting dog-friendly stores and restaurants with user reviews in tow. Also immensely helpful for pet owners is the free Dog Park Finder app, which lists thousands of parks in the U.S. with detailed information, and even lets you see all of the nearby parks on a map.
Foursquare is the latest social networking craze for mobile phones, as it imbues your everyday travels and errands with the sense of playing one big game with all your friends and neighbors. Simply check in at any store, restaurant, or other venue using the official Foursquare (free, pictured) app, and you’ll earn badges to compare with your friends. Some businesses even offer discounts to Foursquare users. It’s mostly frivolous, sure, but also free and surprisingly fun!
Ideally, you’ll leave your iPhone in your pocket while on a nice hike, but should you lose your way or need a basic guide, the iPhone 4 and 3GS come with a built-in Compass (pictured) app that’ll point you in the right direction. And don’t forget about Google Maps, should you need more help! More adventurous explorers might consider geocaching, sort of a treasure hunt for intentionally hidden items. Groundspeak’s Geocaching ($9.99) app provides clues and locations to get you started!
After a long week at the office, chances are you’d like to go a couple days without hearing a peep from coworkers or clients. Luckily, you can turn off your email for the weekend with only a moment’s effort. Hit the Settings, navigate into the Mail, Contacts, Calendars option, and click into your Exchange account. Simply switch Mail to off and your iPhone inbox will go quiet until you turn it back on. Don’t worry--all your precious emails will be waiting for you on Monday.
The iPhone 4 is an all-in-one video creation and uploading device, giving you the ability to shoot video clips (from either camera), edit them in iMovie ($4.99), and transfer them on the fly to YouTube.com. Whether you’re shooting home movies, grabbing a clip of a concert festival, or creating complex short films, you can do everything from the iPhone 4 without a computer and unleash it onto the web. You could be the next YouTube sensation!
Little in life is more satisfying than systematically crossing items off of an epic to-do list, and the iPhone has several available apps to assist in that process--and get all your errands and chores done, of course! Our favorite is Things ($9.99), an easy-to-use task manager that lets you add events and manage larger projects, complete with deadlines and notes, and then strike them off the list with a tap of the finger. Don’t let a slip of the mind derail your weekend plans!
Of course, you can use the iTunes app to download movies and TV shows over a Wi-Fi connection, but what about all of those clips and episodes you have stored on your computer? Luckily, Air Video ($2.99) makes it incredibly easy to stream videos to the iPhone 4 from your Mac or PC using a free companion server program. Air Video even converts the files in mid-stream, and can be accessed from a Wi-Fi hotspot, assuming the server is running on your computer back home.
Sure, you can access most websites from your iPhone, but should you need to use a laptop, you don’t need to worry about finding a Wi-Fi hotspot. Your iPhone data plan can be expanded through AT&T to allow for Internet tethering, which lets you take other devices online through your iPhone. It costs another $20 a month on top of the usual data rates, but if you travel a lot, it sure beats the rates many hotels charge for a day of sluggish Wi-Fi access.
If you’re going to be out and about all weekend with your iPhone 4, consider a couple helpful accessories, like tiny speakers to bring to the park or beach. We like CP Audio’s Chill Pill speakers ($49.99, pictured), but loads of different options are out there. And if you’ll be away from a wall outlet for a couple days, consider a charger case with a built-in battery for extra life. By the time you read this, several manufacturers should have iPhone 4-compatible versions available for purchase.