Four days in London have given me some experience with the iPhone as a trusty travel companion. Before departure I was hesitant about dataroaming expences running high, 3G availability and access as well as battery durability. The most useful feature is hands down Google Maps and GPS. Finding the hotel in Bayswater after exiting Queensway Underground Station was a breeze, and the time suggestion from the app was give or take quite on the spot.

Travelling with a Portuguese family it was crucial to find food from home, and finding Portuguese expats’ waterholes and speciality bakeries did also prove impressively easy. I had downloaded the London Tube app fra App Store and with a gliding interface, searchable and touchable, it was great to find the fastest route and navigate the tube on the handheld device. Frommer’s London Guidebook was also downloaded, but was of limited use even though it is a great resource if you want to know more about London’s attractions.

In terms of disappointments I had trouble with mobile networks falling off on several occasions. I did use 3G or free wi-fi if available, but the Auto-functionality proved fruitless searches more than once. This is a tad worrying if you find yourself lost in London suburbs without an oldfashioned map and a sense of direction.

Luckily I am reasonably familiar with London, and combined with the fantastic GPS navigation on the iPhone one is not left to ask around for directions anymore (the worst a man can do). The blue dot was accurate for walking, but I know it would be a different matter for drivers. London is not a place you want to drive though, it’s best for walkers.

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I fought the hopeless war for many years. Not until 2001, when I realised I had survived the omnious Y2K and found myself in Tokyo, I bought my first mobile. I cannot say I haven’t looked back since, because I have. Mobiles have been bought with various user experiences. My very first phone was a Japanese KDDI black clamshell phone with color screen and the thrill of receiving my first text is a bit embarrasing today. The vivid memory of a vibrating phone on my desk in that student’s dorm still rings true to a lost soul of modern communication technology.

Sony Ericcson has been my preferred choice of mobiles after returning to Norway and the 21st century. Even though I did not keep a mobile in my expat year in Italy which brought misery to my employer. Enter iPhone last month.

When I first read about the iPhone first generation when it was released in the States I wasn’t truly convinced. I felt skeptical of having my iPod turned into a mobile and having all my stuff in one place. I’m not too forgetful, but I’m skeptical – that’s all. My SE k810i almost had it all, it didn’t take the place of my iPod, but there was no real reason why it couldn’t even though the interface was a bit cumbersome.

Nevertheless, I received my much anticipated iPhone 3G one month ago and now I feel I can review it properly. First of all, it’s a good telephone. Calling works fine. But there are so much more. Rave reviews aside, my disappointments are few and far between and they add to the list already mentioned by others.

Copy-and-paste
Forwarding and sending SMS to more than one recipient
MMS (not a big deal really)
Video (my SE k810i was fabulous at this and I can no longer produce my documentaries)
Battery time (greatly improved with the latest update)
Add telephone numbers from 1881 directly to the Address book.
Play music using Airport wirelessly to my home stereo (very strange…)

That’s about it, and as others have pointed out and which has been proved to some extent with the battery issue, all of the issues can be fixed with an update.

So, what good about it?

App Store and all the apps (Shazam, Evernote, Nearby, 1881 etc.)
Interface and usability
Safari in my hand – fast online experience
Accelerometer
Photo viewer – slick and extremely userfriendly
iPod (especially Cover Flow and Genius playlists)
Drag-and-drop desktop items
GPS – not state of the art, but great for my treks where I live
Mobile Me synchronization – no more trouble syncing mobile/laptop/web

All the different apps are both very useful and fun. The main thing is that it does not feel like a mobile, but rather a pocket browser with mobile and iPod capabilities. I can definitly live with that, and it’s hard to think that I would ever return to a different phone anytime soon.

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, but I hope to come back stronger as the weeks progress. Summer has been fantastic with friends and family, home and abroad.

I was back at work three weeks ago and I feel it’s good to be back in the swing of things, and I’m excited to continue building up a school as we are in our third year now. I will continue experimenting and exploring the opportunities of using digital media in my lessons. An increasing number of the students have laptops, digital cameras, smartphones and what not. We need to take advantage of this. Kids use these tools on a daily basis, and school has to become competitive using its first and foremost advantage – knowledge.

I am also happy to report that I’ve finally got my hands on an iPhone 3G, and I must admit I’ll never go back to old school mobiles ever again. It’s a different world altogether. Bless my Sony Ericsson K810i – it was a fantastic phone. Thing is, iPhone is just part phone, part everything else. Of course, it’s not flawless, and some flaws are frustrating. I hope to write a post with a personal review after some more weeks of testing and working with it.

Now to sharpening pencils.