Monday, August 23, 2010

iPhone 4 and Your Bike

For two years, I carried an iPhone 3 while on the bike. It was nothing to write home about -- not that you could write or call home once you got out into the countryside, where it's all silos and no cell towers. The iphone 3 camera? Meh. It would do in a pinch, but it was no substitute for the higher res digital Nikon I carried when photos mattered.

My how times have changed. The iPhone 4, with an upgraded camera (or two of em -- front and back) video capability, a sharper screen and a faster processor is what the bike doctor ordered.

Let me go on the record and say it's still just a mediocre phone, especially through AT&T, where the rural service could star in Cronenberg's Dead Zone 2.

But forget about the phone for a minute. Here's 10 reasons for considering the iPhone 4 in your jersey pocket.

Caution flare mode.

#10: Flashlight mode. We all carry plenty of lights for night riding. And what's wrong with one more? A flashlight app serves as a simple flashlight, or you can use it one of several other modes, like caution flare. Bonus: Speaking of lights, the iPhone has a built-in LED flash for low light video and photos. Guess what? You can force it to stay on and it's a reasonably bright light -- as bright as some of the lights I saw being used in PBP 03.

Heading south!

#9: The Compass. Oh, to have had this app on that fleche that went so far off course. With two signs missing, we didn't know which way was up, much less west or south.

Can you spot the detour?
#8: Route recorders. This $4.99 app, Cyclemeter, recommended by riding buddy Branson, does a fine job of recording the route, then displaying it on google maps, with a speed per mile breakdown as well as a couple dandy charts. It's not terrible on batteries, but if you're going way long, you'll want some kind of charger with you.

Retro styling.
#7:  Camera apps. With your updated camera, you're gong to want a few of the very fine apps available for just a couple bucks. All those effects can add a little splash to an otherwise ordinary picture.  The Caswell County courthouse gets a retro look, complete with Polaroid frame, thanks to Camera Show.

Yo! Where can I get a pizza?
#6 Google Voice Search. A great program that understands just about everything you say and, when you have an Internet connection, gives you the search results. Beats typing on that little screen with fingers sweaty from eight hours of bar tape.

Blogging on the go.
#5 Blogger applications. During the terrific Santa Cruz 1000K, I blogged while at controls or other stops. Social media uploads to Facebook, Blogger, WordPress and Twitter are possible through a variety of apps. The one I use is called BlogPress.

#4: Bike Repair App. Maybe you're not an ace mechanic, but if you have a simple mechanical problem and need help, there's an app for that. Called Bike Repair and selling for $1.99, the app has step-by-step photos for a quick roadside repair to your derailleurs, brakes, wheels, etc.

Yeah, there's a snooze button.
#3: The Alarm  Clock. Love this feature. Use it all the time, at home and on overnight rides. The robot alarm is really annoying; it's guaranteed to wake you up.

#2: Dragon Dictation. Another great app, this is free and transcribes your dictation for painless placement on a variety of SM sites or e-mail. The note on the left was a one-take attempt. Pretty accurate.

#1: The Weather. Everyone complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it. That's still true, of course, but at least you know what's in store for the next few days....

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