iPhone Test Update

Traveling with the iPhoneThe iPhone came back around to me after being evaluated by a couple other IT staff members just in time for a little traveling.  The first thing I did in preparing for my travels with the iPhone was to download a couple TV shows and some music from iTunes.  Syncing the iPhone with iTunes is straight forward and works just like an iPod sync.  The iPhone has a setting called Airplane Mode that is turned on when stewardess asks that all electronic devices must be turned off.  The Airplane Mode turns off the phone and bluetooth, allowing the other iPhone functions to work normally.  Once in the air, I turned on the iPhone and enjoyed the shows and music I had downloaded.  I also used the camera function on the plane, taking several shots out of the window.  I actually used the camera throughout my travels, easily emailing pictures of the sun and sand back to cold and gloomy Illinois just to rub it in a little.  E-mailing a photo is very simple, you can also add a message along with the photo.  Using the iPhone for Internet access was great to check on flight schedules, the weather, etc.  I used the iPhone to keep up with my IWU e-mail while I was away, so I did not have to spend a day catching up when returning to work. Another feature that I use more and more, and used while traveling, is text messaging.  I find sending a text message with the full keyboard much easier than on a standard cell phone.  With the iPhone I can easily send text messages using correct spelling and full punctuation that is usually not done when texting on a standard cell phone.  (U no what i m talking about if u send texts 2 others)

Vacation So, the iPhone worked very well for me while traveling, and it allowed me to travel without the laptop computer I normally drag along. The iPhone provided me with all of the communication and computer functionality I needed.  With all of the positives, the iPhone does not yet work with the IWU wireless network. The other down side is that the iPhone is not supported by our shared calendaring system.  These are two significant support issues for campus use.  If you are currently looking for a wonderful and easy to used mobile device for your personal use, I can highly recommend the iPhone. Integration with campus services should improve as upgrades to both the iPhone and campus systems are rolled out.

1 thought on “iPhone Test Update

  1. Trey’s recent travels with the iPhone highlight some of the popular features available on smart phones in the market today, thanks Trey.

    There is no doubt the iPhone is slick and few can compete with its wow factor, but it is definitely worth noting that keyboards, e-mail, web access, calendaring, office software applets, and other typical business tools are common place on several smart devices.

    As part of our preparation for the upcoming campaign, the Development Office is especially interested in using smart phones to better empower our staff members to enhance their work-related productivity.

    Our goal is to find a device, or devices, that best align with our specific situation. To help us stay focused, we simply started by identifying our primary business-related requirements.

    For example, here are some of those needs:
    • A trustworthy/reliable device
    • Wireless synchronization of e-mail
    • Wireless synchronization of calendars – gift officer calendars need to be up-to-date even when they are away from their laptops
    • Calendar data must be stored on the smart phone – calendars that are only web-based are virtually useless when there is no connectivity available
    • Contact, and possibly even To-Do, software needs to be available and their data should reside on the smart phone
    • Connectivity and synchronization to a Windows computer
    • Simplicity: The device and applications must be easy to use
    • Minimize TCO while maximizing ROI

    Note: We recognize that the above list would vary from department to department.

    We did a lot of research and talked to multiple colleges/universities, and here are a few of the things we learned:

    • There are four common types of smart phones:
    o Treos
    o Windows Mobile devices (available from multiple vendors)
    o Apple iPhone
    o RIM BlackBerry
    • Schools typically provide/allow multiple types of smart phones for their staff/faculty (Actually, we did not find any schools that only allow one type of phone, but there may be some out there. For example, even Abilene Christian, who recently announced an interesting iPhone-in-the-classroom project, uses Treos, BlackBerries, iPhones and Windows Mobile devises for their staff).
    • Schools often vary the level of support they provide smart phone users – this is similar to how IWU categorizes and supports software.
    • New standards such as CalDAV appear to be taking steps towards standardizing calendaring – this standard promises great possibilities as it matures and is more widely adopted.
    • Excluding the extremists on both ends of the spectrum, the Windows Mobile devices had more negative comments; while the overwhelming amount of BlackBerry and iPhone users were happy with their devices.
    • BlackBerries seem to have a very solid corner on the business world, while iPhones have become very popular due to their wow factor – especially with the small business and individual users.
    • Smart phone technology is rapidly changing and a “merging/blurring” of features between phones is expected as we move into the future – iPhones are expected to move more towards the business world, while BlackBerries are expected to start including more “wow” factor features.
    o Apple has recently released their developer code, along with a lot of incentive money for developers.
    o RIM BlackBerry is rumored to have a touchscreen device being released this summer. http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/dec2007/tc20071228_333659.htm
    o Google is expected to release its mobile phone operating system “Android” later in 2008 – it is expected to tie into Google mail, calendar and applications – making it something worth watching.

    At this moment, the reality may be that there is not any one device that is perfect for everyone. However, to maximize limited resources, it seems clear that IWU needs to take extra care to properly align each device to the business needs of the user. For example, if the Development Office can meet the work-related needs of its staff with ten BlackBerry phones instead of ten iPhones, we would save about $3,000 – $5,000 over the two year contract (as of early 2008, the iPhone has a higher monthly fee and a higher initial cost).

    In summary, similar to all technology, I suspect smart phones will continue to evolve and adapt to the needs of the market – becoming more powerful as prices creep lower. The challenge is to recognize the fact that the “river of technology changes” will never stop flowing, and that we need to focus on determining what rafts are best suited for the journey users need to take at that moment.

    We sincerely hope IT will expand its testing to other types of smart phones and also make the test devices available to members outside of the IT staff.

    Thanks – Tim

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *