Today it dawned on me that technology and I are hopelessly intertwined. I’ve given up on working out where I end and technology starts. So here’s a run-down on how often the iPhone and I are indistinguishable in a single day. Odds are, more of you know me through my iPhone than in real life, though using the term “real life” is also becoming meaningless by the day. Take a book for example. It’s a series of interconnected ideas transmitted from one brain to another essentially. The paper book and its production, distribution and so forth were material interjections into that essentially ethereal process. So “real life” is a human being affecting, or being affected by another.
Having checked the time for Fajr (the Muslim dawn prayer) the night before using iPray, I set my alarm for a reasonable time between dawn and sunrise. My day begins with the built-in Clock app waking me up. I tend to vary the alarm sounds to keep me on my toes. Hitting snooze is fatal, so I get up and pray.
When I wake after having gone to sleep after Fajr, my eyes have not yet reached the stage where they can focus properly, but I’m checking my mail on the built-in Mail app. With multiple accounts, the combined in-box makes this straightforward. If I’m on blog moderation duty (which is rare nowadays), I’ll approve any comments in moderation using the WordPress app.
I might have some texts that need responding to, or WhatsApp IMs that need answering and I’ll attend to those in due course.
I weigh myself and use WeightBot to record the data. I flick the mute switch to “off” just to hear the wonderful noises this app makes.
A quick look at the calendar will give me clues about what I might need for the day ahead.
Throughout the day I’ll use the Twitter app (much easier than Twitter on the Mac and less confusing than the iPad version). I’ll also check my RSS feeds on Reeder and the news on the still-free Guardian app. I doubt I’ll pay for the subscription version. I don’t like the news much anyway.
I use the camera and the video function from time to time. Tonight at the hotel in Madrid, I took a picture of the tiny condiment bottles. They’re so cute. I’ll use the built-in Camera app, or more and more often now, Camera+, which gets my vote for having the most beautiful icon on my home screen. I also use Hipstamatic and 8mm if the mood catches me, but I can get by most days without them.
OmniFocus pretty much runs my life for me. It’s the closest I’ll get to having a PA and it keeps me honest on iPhone, iPad and Mac. When I’m short on time (which is most of the time), I’ll use the iPhone version, otherwise I will relax with the iPad version, which also gets more use in the office. Not today though.
Note taking duty is handled by Simplenote, probably the most useful note-taking app ever created. It’s so simple, that most of the time it beats a notebook and pen, and that’s saying something given my love for the feel of a decent pen on Moleskine paper. Oh, it works with TextExpander too, which makes it super fast. If I’m in need of the meaning of a word, I have AED to hand.
I use Trickle for passive tweet watching, YouTube when people send me stuff to watch and Amazon UK if I want to check the price of a book I see in a shop. Naughtily, I think bookshops exist now to browse stuff you will buy off Amazon at some point anyway. And even that’s becoming a memory as I tend to buy books from the Kindle Store more and more.
If I need to tune my ukulele, I’ll use the fabulous Guitar Toolkit. I’m about to become friendly with Everyday Looper and I’ve been enjoying the Moog Filtatron, just for making silly noises, immensely. Instant Quatermass. Beautiful. On the bus, I listen to lectures and music on the iPod app. And if it’s a Friday and I’m waiting for the prayer to start at the mosque, I’ll read iQuran Pro. I just wish it had some more modern English translations, but it’s still very beautiful.
I will of course send and receive plenty of SMSs and make the odd phone call. FaceTime also gets a look-in, but sadly, given its insistence on WiFi and my unwillingness to pay exorbitant data roaming charges, it doesn’t get used on the iPhone where and when I need it the most, which is when I’m travelling on business. That’s when I fire the laptop up, connect that to the hotel WiFi and hope for the best. At the hotel I’m at now in Madrid, the connection rate is so poor, that I’ve had to fall back to Skype.
Life without the Kindle reader and Instapaper is unimaginable. Most of my medium-form reading gets done that way. Long form duty falls to the iPad, which seems to have been invented for Instapaper.
And how would I connect to so many log-in-demanding websites without 1Password? Anyone keeping the same password across multiple log-ins is just asking for it.
On the odd occasion I’m driving, I will use the CoPilot App for GPS, but more often in London, I will use Tube Deluxe for network news and Travel Deluxe to plan routes. I use the Streetcar app to book the odd car for short trips and the Bixou app to find me a Boris Bike. Today however, I used the BA app. Having checked in on the bus yesterday, I used it today with my downloaded travel ticket to sail through Heathrow’s Terminal 3. It was like magic. When I’m walking, I’ll use the Maps app and the direction finder, because my sense of direction is so poor that if you spun me around in my bedroom a couple of times I’d get lost.
I regularly use Skype to call my mum and FishText to SMS my friends and my mum abroad. My calculator is the quite brilliant Soulver and my currency conversion comes courtesy of Convertbot. If I ever need to check anything on my Mac at home, there’s iTeleport, but more and more, I can just use Dropbox to keep me in sync wherever I am.
In my hotel room, I will use iPray again to locate the Qibla, or the direction of Mecca so that I can say my prayers. And I will wind down with a book, some Instapaper, or a Jeff Minter game. For the longest time it was Fruit Ninja, but now it’s Forget.Me.Not and Atari Greatest Hits. Naturally, I downloaded the full collection. It’s produced by Jeff Vavasour, with whom I made the wonderful Atari Arcade Hits volumes 1 and 2 in my Hasbro days.
My question: How on earth did we manage before? And do you get why I call these things Human Amplification Devices now? They don’t just amplify me, they amplify others to me. We get to share humanity at a higher energy level than ever before and I absolutely, totally love it.