iPhone Your Life: Apple Tries to Get its App Store Act Together

There have been a lot of complaints about the organization of the App Store. Yes, you can search, and browse by category, but the sheer volume of apps available and the relatively simple App Store design make finding something without knowing exactly what you’re looking for a bit of a nightmare. Luckily, you have us to sift through the mess and find the diamonds. Now, you also have the official Apple “iPhone Your Life” website.
Apple appears to have taken a page out of Mozilla’s playbook, since iPhone Your Life presents select iPhone apps in a way very similar to Fashion Your Firefox‘s organization of add-ons for their popular internet browser. As on the Mozilla site, items are organized into broad categories that attempt to group apps by use and/or context for use. Apple provides five categories:

  • Around Town: Location-aware apps and directories for finding things to do, eat, etc.
  • World Travel: Map, language, and conversion apps for smooth globe-trotting.
  • At Home: Past-times and fun for the family, plus apps that interact with your Mac.
  • Getting Things Done: A lot of (surprise!) GTD apps.
  • Fun and Games: Many of the higher profile games available for the iPhone, and some silliness.

Each category’s page presents a brief description of around ten apps that are somehow connected with the overall theme. Submenus containing lists of Top Apps or Staff Picks in the category are also included. Pages can be sent to a friend using convenient links following the App descriptions.
The site seems to be aimed at relatively novice users, and is probably designed more as a supplement to the ongoing iPhone “Dilemmas” campaign than as a functional, thematic app browser. Still, iPhone Your Life is well presented, and might reveal a hidden gem or two that you’ve somehow neglected to pick up on in your obsessive refreshing of AppShopper.com. Or maybe I’m just projecting.

Gypsy Maps + iPhone = NYC Subway Atlas

Using the directions feature of Google maps was an indispensable tool when I used to drive around town. Now that I moved to New York, I rely on the subways to get around and Gypsy Maps to tell me how.

I’m generally pretty lazy, so once I use Gypsy Maps to get directions somewhere, I take it to the next level and email it to my iPhone so that I can look at the map on the go. I have developed a pretty good routine:

  1. Go to Gypsy Maps
  2. Enter your start and end address
  3. Click Print
  4. Click the “Ink Saver” option
  5. Click the print button, or File>Print
  6. When the print box comes up, click PDF>Save as PDF
  7. Save the PDF to your desktop

At this point you have map, but we want to take it with us. Cue iPhone:

  1. Launch your email program and create a new message with you map as the attachment
  2. Put the destination as the email’s subject ie “Bryant Park”
  3. Put the physical street address in the body of the message
  4. Email the message to yourself
  5. Create a label “Maps” and apply it to the email
  6. Finally, grab your iPhone and open the email and the attachment on your phone. This way it will be cached and you will be able to look at the map even when your on the subway and don’t have reception. (This step is super important, so make sure you do it before you lose reception!!!)

After a few weeks your “maps” label will be full of different subway maps, and you should be able to get around the city a lot easier. I also found a high resolution subway map on the internet and emailed it to myself, so that way I have a full subway map anytime I have my phone. Have fun!

How NOT to bootstrap

We’ve published several posts here about why bootstrapping is often the best way to fund your startup, and how to do it well. Plenty of other sites are producing great content on the topic, too. I read another such post on Read/WriteWeb this morning. It’s billed as a Top 10 Bootstrapping Tips, but the real value is found in author Bernard Lunn’s few tips on what NOT to do when you’re bootstrapping. Here they are. Read More about How NOT to bootstrap

Apple.com Redesign Emulates OS Functionality

Apple.com Search
If you don’t know that Apple thinks-through every minute detail of the things they do, you haven’t been a fan long enough. Take a long look at the hardware, the software, and the retail stores and your appreciation for the level of thought Apple puts into every thing they do should grow immensely. Then just when you think you’ve got Apple figured-out there’s something right in front of your face that makes you go, “Duh!”
The more I peruse the redesigned Apple.com the more eye candy I discover. Of course being the [unofficial] Mac Evangelist that I am, I should know better than to call anything Apple does, ‘eye candy’ – almost without fail there is function behind the beautiful form in anything that comes out of Cupertino, CA. Apple.com is no exception since its redesign not so long ago.
Those of us already rocking OS X may have taken notice (although possibly subconsciously) of the website features that tend to mimic our favorite operating system. But the really ingenius point here is that users who are yet to make The Switch are already being introduced to some of the functionality they’ll find in OS X. There may not be anything earth-shattering, but opening up your first Mac and seeing something familiar in an otherwise foreign operating system can be a very welcome feeling. And that’s really what Apple’s all about, isn’t it?
The coordinated features between the website and the operating system that I’ve noticed thus far can be found in the following two screencasts. (Please note, that there’s not supposed to be audio, it’s just a visual aid.)
So here are the screencasts of the features on Apple.com, and the similarities in OS X.
But allow me to list the features here anyway:

  • Search – Spotlight functionality is so similar, even the colors match!
  • Product Page and side bars – Hello CoverFlow!
  • Quicktime Trailers – ‘Save’ your view preferences as in iTunes.
  • Icons & Colors – Even the design elements on the website mimic that of OS X.

If you’ve found other functionality on Apple.com that mimics something in OS X, let us know in the comments.
This coordination between Apple’s products is nothing new of course. Case in point, the [now] Classic iPod and the previous generation of iMac had a very similar appearance, the new iMac design and the iPhone, Apple Retail Store aluminum interior design and Apple’s Pro line of hardware. There are so many parallels between Apple’s products and so much more thought than probably any other tech company that it’s no surprise that they stand out such as they do.