Make Your iPhone Work for You


A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how you could optimize a Windows Mobile 6 Professional smartphone for web workers.

This week I move onto the iPhone, which, according to research firm Canalys, accounted for 28% of the US smartphone market as of Q4 2007.

Right now, the iPhone is mostly a consumer-oriented cellphone, but that’s set to change in June when the iPhone 2.0 firmware is released. This will likely add business-friendly features like support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, Cisco IPsec VPN and remote IT configuration and security capabilities. More importantly, it’s going to give iPhone users the ability to download third-party application through the new Apple-run App Store.

In the run up to the new firmware, there are two ways to add new software to your iPhone: by adding web-based applications that are accessed through the iPhone’s Safari browser; and by “jail-breaking” or unlocking the iPhone to enable installation of third-party software.

If your iPhone isn’t unlocked, the good news is that you can now do it yourself using a single easy-to-use program like ZiPhone – check out the step-by-step tutorial on iClarified for more details.

The bad news is that jail-breaking an iPhone voids the warranty. Apple technicians are able to check if you’ve applied any of the jailbreak hacks and will more than likely refuse to fix your iPhone if you have to send it in for service.

With a jail-broken iPhone, you’re also at the mercy of the hacker community for supplying new firmware releases, as installing a new iPhone firmware version direct from Apple will at best lock it down again, at worst ‘brick’ your iPhone so that it becomes a $499 paperweight (which is what happened to many users with the 1.1 firmware release).

Is the risk worth the reward? Depends on whether you’re happy to give up warranty service in exchange for access to hundreds of free and commercial applications, system tweaks and iPhone themes before the firmware 2.0 release in June.

Here are 10 programs that I’ve handpicked for enhancing the iPhone’s web worker smarts, all of which are accessed through the Installer application that’s automatically added when you jail-break it:

  1. Bookmarklets: Add Find, Copy & Paste, Open link in new tab and Flash playback capabilities to the Safari web browser. .
  2. DropCopy: Transfer files between Macs and iPhones on the same network.
  3. WildEyes: View any PDF, DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, TXT and image file through the Safari web browser.
  4. Twinkle: Post updates to your Twitter network, see tweets from users that are near you and add images to your tweets.
  5. Fring: Chat to friends on MSN Messenger, Yahoo, AIM, ICQ, and Google Talk, and speak to people over VoIP using the Fring and Skype networks. [You’ll need to add the Fring source separately to the Installer app – see here for instructions.]
  6. Moleskine: Organize your notes across different labeled folders.
  7. Mobile Text Edit: Create simple text documents.
  8. Search: Find contacts and and appointments using a simple search form.
  9. VoiceNotes: Create simple voice recordings using the iPhone’s built-in mic.
  10. iMapIdle: Simulate push email on the iPhone with an IMAP mail server.

The iPhone’s web clipping feature means you can turn any website into a discrete application that you can access through an icon on the home screen. Most popular Web 2.0 sites have created iPhone-optimized portals, many of which simulate full-blown applications like RSS readers, IM clients and time management applications.

Below are 10 of my favorite web apps for the iPhone. Using the ‘Add to Home Screen’ feature in Safari (accessed by tapping on the ‘+’ button at the bottom of the screen), you can add shortcuts to these applications to your iPhone’s home screen.

  1. Facebook
  2. Google (which combines all Google Mobile services including Gmail, Calendar, Reader and Docs into a single iPhone-optimized interface)
  3. Netvibes Mobile
  4. Evernote Beta Mobile
  5. JiveTalk (multi-platform IM client)
  6. iBackpack
  7. Glide Write (create and edit Word documents)
  9. Remember the Milk
  10. Hahlo (Twitter client)

Other apps useful for web workers include ZoHo Creator Mobile, TiddlyWiki and iBillTo.

I’d like to hear from other web workers with iPhones. How do you rate it as a mobile productivity tool? Have you found any other iPhone applications or web services that are indispensable?


Daniel Hoang

I travel a lot to various client sites. The most useful feature that’s already available is the ability to bookmark different locations and map point to point.

Mark Bao

Warning with some of these apps –

Moleskine is a great app, but on the last update it overwrote all of my notes with their default data. I think (or hope) the developer is aware of this. The developer of Moleskine also develops TimeCapsule, which is an excellent tool for backing up your Notes database, as well as Address Book, Calendar, Safari etc. databases (but strangely not the Moleskine database.)

iMapIdle also is reportedly a huge drain on the battery, as I’ve heard.

Also adding to the list – SmartRSS is a great standalone feed reader, and Feeds integrates with Google Reader. RemoteNote lets you access and edit notes in your browser. Services lets you control SSH, Wifi, Edge, Bluetooth, and etc for power management.


Be sure to be on the same page with your employer in terms of security policies, etc., before using the iPhone for work. It’s far beyond the idea of what is technically possible.


Don’t you think the iPhone may one day become handy for business apps running exclusively in the cloud, even without jailbreaking or the SDK?

It occurred to me the other day that it might:


is it just me or have you not provided any link or instructions for actually INSTALLING the apps you mention?


This is the 2nd in a series – awesome – need to do one now for Blackberries!

Jay Francis Hunter

I’ve been using Evernote lately and I love it.

I’ve also been using PocketTweets and really wanted something better…Hahlo looks to be that.


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