Get the iPhone’s Features Without an iPhone

1 07 2007

Apple made headlines this weekend with its launch of the iPhone. I applaud Apple for pioneering a new design and user-interface, however feature-wise the iPhone is similar to a Motorola RAZR that debuted two years ago. For those of you who want to get the software on an iPhone without purchasing an iPhone, check out this list:

1. Maps

You don’t need Apple’s Google Maps software to get driving directions to a nearby pizza parlor. If you have a Java enabled phone (almost all phone’s nowadays do) check out my review of Google Maps for Mobiles. It has the same features, minus the multi-touch. Point your web-browser to http://www.google.com/gmm for the goods.

2. YouTube

YouTube is exclusive to the Apple iPhone? I think not. Point your mobile web-browser to http://m.youtube.com and watch your favorite videos straight from your phone. YouTube dishes out the video content in a special format (3GP) that your phone will be able to stream over the net.

3. Calendar

The good guys at Google have done it again, point your mobile web-browser to http://mobile.google.com/calendar and organize your life. If you have a Windows Mobile device check out my article on GooSync to wirelessly synchronize GCal with the built in Outlook calendar app.

4. Photos

Most camera phones have some built-in software to let you view them, so I won’t go into any additional photo software. But if you want to upload and view photos online in an album point your mobile web-browser to http://picasaweb.google.com/m.

5. Safari

Apple claims that Safari is the best mobile web-browser because it displays the web the way it should be. Check out my review on Opera Mini 4 which has the exact same features. Opera Mini 4 runs on any Java enabled phone. Visit http://www.operamini.com/download/ and grab the goodness.

6. Mail

Apple says they offer free POP mail access for all iPhone users. This is nice, and the ability to check your e-mail is a must for many people, but you can do this with GMail on your mobile phone. Point your web-browser to http://gmail.com/app
and download the Java program that lets you check your e-mail. You don’t use Google but another type of POP e-mail account? Great – Google lets you POP other e-mail accounts as well so no sweat, you’re covered.

7. Weather

I guess this is a little bit of a stretch, but if you need your phone to tell you what the weather is outside you need to get out more. If you really want to get the weather, you can always text Google (466453) with the query “weather <insert zipcode or city here>” and Google will text you back with the forecast results for the day. Its not as intuitive as I would like it to be, but hey it gets the job done.

If you don’t want to take the SMS route, take a visit to http://m.yahoo.com, Yahoo’s mobile webpage, and configure your start page to include a weather forecast.

7. Voicemail

Visual Voicemail is a great feature to have, but again is not exclusive to an iPhone. The engineers are CallWave have a product that lets you visually choose your voicemails, but it doesn’t stop there, you can even receive voicemails as text messages. This may not be free in the future however, but in the words of Robert Heinlein, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”

8. Stocks

Yahoo’s mobile start page is very informative. Visit http://m.yahoo.com and setup the quotes that you want to track. You can also take the SMS route that Google provides by texting 466453 and entering “stock <insert symbol here>.”

As a consumer I look past marketing hype, I hope these tips help you get the most out of today’s technology.


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10 responses

2 07 2007
Stirrdup Trackback

Get the iPhones Features Without an iPhone

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2 07 2007
Marco Arment

Anyone who thinks the RAZR has equivalent functionality to the iPhone has clearly never used either.

My translation of your post: “The RAZR can do many similar things as the iPhone, except some of the biggest features, much worse than the iPhone, as long as you’re willing to give up the advantages of doing them and suffer through an awful interface with buggy, limited hardware and laughably poor software.”

2 07 2007
syalam

Marco – thanks for commenting! Agreed, the iPhone has an awesome user-interface and powerful hardware, but when it comes down to basic cell phone features, you’ll be surprised to find that a Motorola RAZR can support voice dialing, whereas an iPhone lacks that feature. I don’t want to get into a flame war, this post was meant to highlight how you can get the iPhone software on an ordinary cell phone. Thanks for reading!

2 07 2007
Marco Arment

Thank you for approving my comment and responding.

The iPhone isn’t perfect, and voice dialing is an important missing feature, especially since its lack of physical buttons makes it impossible to safely (or less dangerouslyI never use them because they’re too much of a hassle to use. That’s where the iPhone, like most Apple products, really shines: it implements common functionality in a way that’s accessible and convenient for people so that they’ll actually use it.

2 07 2007
Marco Arment

Sorry, the middle half of my comment was eaten. After “less dangerously”, it went something like this:

…use it while driving. My 2-year-old Motorola E815 (similar to the RAZR in software and abilities) can do many of those things too, but I never use them because they’re too much of a hassle to use.

2 07 2007
Mohammad Azimi

Marco, I’m having a difficult time understanding what you think is so great about the iPhone. You say that it’s dangerous to use while driving. That’s correct, it would be. Although it’s dangerous, a lot of people use their phones to make calls or text message while driving, the fact that the iPhone makes it even more difficult to do these things through the lack of a physical keyboard or voice calling only adds to the existing danger and we all know that users will still try to use the phones in these situations regardless of how much danger it poses. You say that you do not use the features on your Motorla phone because they are too much of a hassle, but that is not the case for the majority of people out there. Windows Mobile phones are usually very easy to use and typically only require you to record a voicetag for a contact and then press a button and speak the name to call that person later on. This feature is very convenient for many users, not to mention people who are accustomed to using Bluetooth headsets. What’s the point of a handsfree headset when you have to use your hands to make calls since there is no voice dialing?

The iPhone is lacking key features that many users rely upon. Of course there will be the initial sales from the hype and the fanboys but at the end of the day there are key factors that need to be looked at to determine the success of the phone, the two major ones being price and functionality. I think the existing reviews around the web have shown that the iPhone lacks key functionality for most consumers, especially business users. Gartner, a respected analyst firm is telling IT organizations and businesses to stay away from the iPhone since it lacks the necessary security features along with communication features that your typical business user expects in a phone. You average consumer wants features such as video recording and picture messaging that the iPhone lacks among many others. Although the iPhone presents new features, they are focused more on presenting a “wow factor” than giving the user a good set of phone features and in that sense the iPhone is taking a step back rather than moving forward. There are plenty of phones out there that give you the functional features of the iPhone such as MP3 playback, YouTube, Internet browsing, etc. and additional features such as 3G support that let you browse the internet at faster speeds (like the iPhone commercials show but fail to deliver) and I think that is what Sheehan is trying to say.

When it comes to price, $500 is a hefty price to pay for a phone lacking basic functionality. Why is the RAZR such a success? It gives people the features they need at a reasonable price, features that actually matter when considering how functional your phone will be. The iPhone lacks many of these features and it seems that marketing is the tool Apple is using to compensate for these shortcomings.

Whether it be price, features or the choice of carrier, it seems that Apple has missed a generic target when it comes to phones. This type of hype and brand loyalty will only hurt consumers when a product is not held up to the same standards that any other product on the market normally would be.

2 07 2007
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[…] Get the iPhone’s Features Without an iPhone [image] Apple made headlines this weekend with its launch of the iPhone. I applaud Apple for pioneering a new design […] […]

16 07 2007
alexx_mobil

Many thanks!!
very nice topic!!!

22 07 2007
Darryl

This is a GREAT post! But unfortunately, I don’t know if anything can stop me from the mezmorizing(sp?) effect the iphone, OR ANYTHING APPLE at that!, does to me! Really though…it is a great post to have the same features the iPhone has…but I think that an idea about the iPhone is about convenience. ITS ALL THERE ALREADY! And you have to admit…anything..ALMOST anything apple makes is pretty damn sexy. One awesome use I’ve thought of is with Jott.com (voice to text app, check it out!!). Jott sends the transcribed voice message to email along to recipients phone, and with the iPhone, you can get it right away!(you get a copy yourself). And also Jott attaches an audio copy so you can hear that as well directly on the iPhone! Overall…I just love Apple..hahaha

28 02 2008
Jatin

Hi Sheehantu,

very nice article. also other softwares u might want to consider:
1. pointui avaiable free at http://www.pointui.com (search youtube for pointui vdos)
2. Browser (Closed Beta) http://www.skyfire.com

Thanks and keep posting more articles on Win Mobiles – Free softwares, Games and Tips.

bbye.

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