iPhone GPS, Speakers, and Apps

In deliberating about purchasing the iPad I took the time to think through use cases, considering when and how I use technology on the road, when researching, and in the classroom. Looking backwards rather than forwards I thought I would share with you some of the ways in which I use my iPhone and the gadgets and apps that make it more useful for me.


A while ago I posted my rather inexpensive solution for an iPod clock radio, the Griffin AirCurve ($14.99 at Amazon) and I purchased the iHome iP99BR clock radio/boom box for my daughter’s iPod Touch and she loves it. When, thanks to many of you purchasing items like the AirCurve through my Amazon account, I had some dollars to spend at Amazon I decided to get some portable speakers for use around the house. I chose the Altec Lansing inMotion SoundBlade. This is an 2.5″ thin Bluetooth A2DP (i.e., stereo) speaker/speakerphone for $50. Audiophiles might find the sound lacking, but it is a great solution for most. The sound fills the bedroom and kitchen nicely and the speakerphone features works great!

One tip my brother pointed out to me is using them in the bathroom (something I haven’t done yet). It seems an Apple Genius told him that often people have “water damage” on their iPhone because they plug it into speakers in their bathroom. While the iPhone doesn’t actually get wet, the humidity in the room triggers the water detector in the phone and thus voids the warranty. Being a Bluetooth speaker system your iPhone (or iPod Touch) can be in the room next door while the speakers are in the bathroom, flooding you with your tunes or favorite podcast.

The next purchase was for my wife’s car. There is talk (again) that PA will institute a law requiring handsfree talking on cell phones and my wife doesn’t like earpieces. So I considered another Bluetooth speakerphone solution, the Jabra SP5050 Bluetooth Car Speakerphone. I was able to pick it up for $30 (although it is showing for $67 now) which is quite inexpensive for a handsfree solution. It has worked quite well for my wife but one tip: when first connecting hold down the main button on the Jabra for 7 seconds to put it into connect mode. (You will think it is that mode after just a few seconds, but hold it longer.) After that the only thing you have to remember is to turn it off when you get home, otherwise your car is answering your phone when you are in the house. 😉

TomTom is GoGo!

I travel a fair amount and our TomTom device is now over three years old. Carrying an extra device is also a nuisance, especially when I am flying to a destination and then getting in a rental car for a couple of days. So I finally purchased the TomTom USA app for the iPhone ($59.99). I can’t speak highly enough about this app, but I did my best on this week’s Real Tech Podcast, episode 30. It integrates beautifully with the iPhone’s Contacts and iPod, even stopping or fading the music while giving you directions. The latest version also brings Google search ability and, for a fee, traffic notification.

To place the map at eye level I also purchased a simple window mount, the Griffin WindowSeat. You can find it from $9-15 and it has holders for the 1 Gen iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPhone 3G/S. You do have to take your phone out of its case to put it in the holder, which would get annoying for short trips, but when you settle in for a long drive it takes just a few minutes to get it up and running. Combine that with the Griffin AutoPilot for iPod which will charge your phone, provide aux out, and controls for play/pause/next and you have a nice tidy system.

One tip: Several reviewers on Amazon complained that the WindowSeat doesn’t stay affixed properly to the windshield. The trick is…to follow the instructions, turn the base ring ONLY a quarter of a turn in order to get it to adhere.

So a bit of insight into how I use my iPhone. In another post shortly I will share what podcasts I listen to regularly and I hope that you will share yours as well. Some of the best programs I listen to were recommended to me so I look forward to finding out about new (to me) programs.

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