Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My iPhone and Me: A Love-Hate, Co-Dependent Relationship

So I've had the iPhone for almost a year, and to my horror, I discovered I've become someone I told myself I wouldn't become: a complete iPhone addict. Despite my many attempts at using different types of technology to organize my life (my mom and a former boss both gave me early versions of the Palm Pilot at different points), I was never able to find the patience to use it to its fullest advantage. The iPhone has succeeded where many other devices have tried and failed.

Our relationship started off innocently enough. I used my iPhone mostly for email, texting, and calling people. However, I soon found that the iPhone is much more than an expensive phone with a ridiculously expensive monthly plan. Over time, I've found that the iPhone does a number of things that fit my life really well. This includes:

Recipe Storage: Between Evernote, which I use to clip recipes I see online, and my Epicurious and Mark Bittman apps, the iPhone has become a very handy device to use when cooking. While there are some minor annoyances, such as the screen going dark while I am trying to follow a recipe, I find that, for simple dishes, using the iPhone is a viable alternative to printing out a recipe, running back and forth from my laptop to my kitchen, or lugging around a huge cookbook.

Checking Email: I am a self-proclaimed email addict, and I check email numerous times each day. I find it particularly important to check it in the morning before I go to work, so it is very easy to check my email before leaving the house (or sometimes even getting out of bed).

Organizing My Life: This might seem like an overstatement, but as someone who used to carry around an actual calendar/planner (and, at one point, a New Yorker desk calendar), I can honestly say that figuring out how to import all of my Google calendars (and my boss's work schedule) into my iPhone calendar has made my life somewhat more organized. I love being able to have my calendars sync automatically, and I even found a way to import the Red Sox home schedule so that I know when to avoid the T and the Fenway area. As someone who dislikes crowds and sports, this is a big deal.

However, my relationship with the iPhone has not been all puppies and rainbows. There are several things that drive me crazy about my iPhone, to the point where I sometimes wish I hadn't decided to take the plunge and get one. These major cons include:

Sketchy Coverage: Despite what At&T would like us to think, their coverage (particularly of the 3G variety) can be spotty at best. What is particularly annoying is that my phone sometimes refuses to work when I'm in my apartment. Although it would be easy to lay all of this at At&T's feet, I also place some of the blame on the iPhone, which can be temperamental when it comes to reception. Consequently, I am stuck with a seldom-used but necessary land line.

Reading Un-Friendliness: Although part of me would love an iPad, if reading on it is like reading on an iPhone, I might have to pass. Reading on an iPhone is okay if I have nothing else to read, but if given the choice between reading on my iPhone and reading the text on paper, paper would win every time. Besides the sometimes inopportune readjustment of the text (it jumps from landscape to portrait), the backlighting can be tiring to look at.

24/7 Connection: I can appreciate being able to check my email, get the news, or make a call at almost anytime, but this comes with a price. I'm not quite sold on being connected all of the time. However, I don't usually turn my iPhone off. Even when I am teaching or at work, I will put it on silent, but I rarely power it down. I know that turning it off is an option, but part of me thinks, "If I'm paying for the unlimited data plan, then by God, I'm going to get my money's worth."

Self-Loathing, Apple Style: I've always been a PC person, so I find it more than a little upsetting that I use (and love) my iPhone. If the iPod is the gateway drug to all Apple products, I'm scared that someday I will trade in my affordable Toshiba for a sleek, expensive new computer from the Apple Store. However, I think that the price tag (and the memory of those damn Apple vs. PC commercials) will be enough to deter me from going down that slippery slope.