So you got a new iPhone for Christmas, huh? Lucky you! Learning how to use your iPhone is the easy part, but there are some essential things you need to know to get the most out of your new toy and to make it safe. Here are our ten golden rules.
1. Add a lock-code.
Your iPhone, once set-up, contains and gives access to a lot of very personal information – identity details, email accounts, website log-ins, contact details, possibly even banking information. If you had all this information written down in a book, you would never allow a complete stranger to pick it up and start rifling through it, yet if you don’t protect your iPhone with a lock code this is exactly what you’re risking. Check out our guide to setting up passcode protection right here and secure your data right now.
2. Get on the right data plan.
If this is your first iPhone, it may take some getting used to the fact that the whole device is geared around access to the internet. So much so, in fact, that unlike many other devices you really can’t stop it. There are no “launching this program will connect you to the internet, are you sure?” warnings, or even any indication at all that many of the apps you are going to use or purchase from the App Store will start consuming data the second you launch them. That being the case, it is futile to try and limit your data use – the best thing to do is invest some time in knowing about the various data plans your carrier offers and select the one that is the best fit for your needs.
In our experience the absolute minimum you should budget for is 100MB per month and this should set you back around $10 per month — 100MB will allow you to access your email, maps and a bit of casual web browsing every day. The casual data rates on both Vodafone and Telecom are a lot more forgiving these days than they were a couple of years ago, so you shouldn’t be unwittingly clocking up bills in the tens-of-thousands of dollars if you haven’t paid any consideration to this yet, but do yourself a favour and head to your carrier’s website to educate yourself on the options.
3. Sync with the right services.
The iPhone’s mail, contacts, and calendar apps have the ability to sync back to your PC or Mac when you connect to iTunes via USB, but setting up the right kind of account to sync with can give you more advanced sync facilities, often allowing you to sync over-the-air whenever you want.
The most obvious example of this is Apple’s own MobileMe service. Subscribing to MobileMe will give you push email (your email is ‘pushed’ to your iPhone instead of you having to check for new mail manually), will sync your contacts over-the-air and sync your calendar appointments in the same way. There’s a catch though – an annual fee of $140 applies for MobileMe and once you start using it there’s really no backing out so consideration of the on-going costs of this service needs to be made.
There are alternatives in the shape of Yahoo!, GMail and Microsoft Exchange. All of these have over-the-air sync capabilities in one form or another, although not all of these can sync all kinds of information (for example, Yahoo! does not offer contacts sync at this time). Research your options thoroughly and pick the one you’re happy with — we’ve written an article on this very subject to help you out.
4. Kiwi-fy your iPhone with our iPhonewzealand App.
Our very own free App which is available on the App Store right now will help you find the best apps to help you get the most out of your iPhone in New Zealand. Nowhere else – not even the App Store itself – will you find a more exhaustive list of apps made by kiwis or for kiwis. Go get it!
5. Create some ringtones.
A mobile is nothing without a large collection of embarrassing ringtones, and the iPhone is no exception. There are several ways to load ringtones onto your phone, but the best methods are discussed in this article.
6. Enable password saving and Autofill.
Safari is an awesome web browser but by default it will not save your username and passwords for the sites you visit. If you’ve enabled a lock code (see point one), then there’s really no reason to not enable password saving in Safari.
To enable this feature go to settings -> Safari -> autofill and turn ‘remember passwords’ on. While you’re there, enable Autofill so that forms on websites will auto-populate with your personal information (where you allow).
7. Choose a good GPS app.
The GPS capabilities in your iPhone 3GS are great – locks are achieved quickly and are extremely accurately. The built-in Maps app gives you a taste of how GPS + mapping software can be useful, but add a turn-by-turn navigation app and suddenly your iPhone is a powerful navigation aid that is every bit as capable as the majority of dedicated in-car systems available on the market.
Click here for reviews of all the major GPS apps that cover New Zealand and never consult a map again.
8. Choose the best in-car solution.
With its GPS, music and phone capabilities your iPhone is the perfect companion for your car. But just like with any other mobile device, you need to make sure you’re complying with the law and making the way you use your phone is safe.
For voice calling there are Bluetooth speaker-phone or Bluetooth headsets to consider. For music there are simple auxiliary-out cables, FM senders and cassette adaptors. For placement of your iPhone there are vent-mounts, dashboard mounts and windscreen mounts.
The options are many and bewildering so take time to think about your setup and buy the right one to suit your needs. The Apple Store online is a great place to start – check it out here.
9. Protect your investment – choose a case.
Your iPhone is a beautiful device and while it’s tempting to keep it ‘nude’, sooner or later you’re going to want to preserve it, especially when that nice chrome trim starts to get scratched. Cases are plentiful and there is one for every taste and pocket. We have reviewed some cases which you can read about here, otherwise head over to the Apple Store for one of the widest selections you’ll find.
10. Seize the power!
If you’re coming to the iPhone from a ‘regular’ mobile, one of the first things that will hit you is how hungry for juice it is. Be smart with the way you use your phone to maximise battery life, but also consider in-car chargers and external battery packs to make sure you’re not caught short.
And that’s it: our top ten tips for new iPhone owners! Got any more tips you’d like to share? Hit the comments.