I’ve been keeping my eyes, almost obsessively, on all the new iPhone OS 3.0 apps out there. I’ve especially been looking for push apps. I’ll give you the lowdown on the particular Push apps I consider worthy of download later in this column.
But first, I want to talk to you about a problem I’m having.
I upgraded my iPhone from original to 3GS last week and was sad to see my trusted iPhone die the death of deactivation. The feeling was quickly replaced by that smug pride I know most iPhone users have when they know they have the latest and greatest.
So I looked at my 3GS with wonder as I explored the hundreds of new and updated 3.0 apps to roll out over the last couple weeks. I’m super excited that I finally put a Push-enabled chat app on my home screen. I got rid of Apple’s Messages and Notes apps and put Textfree Unlimited and Evernote in their places.
Somehow I still feel empty.
An unsettling feeling has set in. Filling my new iPhone with apps has become a stressful and upsetting experience. In particular, the need to fill out my home screen apps now borders on the obsessive-compulsive.
This definitely feels like Appiphilia, an ailment first described by Michelle Maltais at the Los Angeles Times after the launch of the App Store last year. She described Appiphilia thusly:
I’m addicted to apps…My problem started gently with the free apps. They’re free, right? So a Mobile Banking and Pandora Radio app here, a Facebook and AIM app there. Shazam, Truveo, Mobile News Network. Download as many as you want. Maybe browse through some of the other App Store offerings while the phone is syncing. What’s the harm? That’s how appiphilia starts.
Yeah, I own 234 apps. I blew at least $50 when the App Store launch because I was so anxious to enjoy the new apps. I’ve been careful spending my money since launch day but rarely a week goes by without buying a couple new apps.
Yes, I am addicted to apps too.
My problem is something different though. I call it Alien App Syndrome.
I’ve changed the apps on my iPhone on a daily basis since OS 3.0 and I can’t decide what apps belong on my home screen. Not only that, but there are several new apps all vying for my attention. I’m just not used to all these new apps. I pause a few seconds every time I pop open my home screen and am instantly hit with the anxiety of cognitive dissonance. For just a second or so I panic – these aren’t my apps! What’s Voice Notes? TweetdDeck? BeejveIM? Evernote? Textfree?
I have the frustrated task of having to mentally rewire myself to recognize all the new apps and their new positions.
What makes Alien App Syndrome so problematic is that it is subject to complications. Like when I get an attack of App Cravings.
Even though I’ve been closely following and reporting on all the major 3.0 releases and I know apps like Facebook won’t offer Push Notifications for a while, I still want them now. So I check for updates and new apps just in case something will satisfy me in the meantime.
I just don’t feel like I’ll be happy until it’s all perfect. Until my cravings are satisfied. Until Facebook pushes and BeejiveIM doesn’t have any glitches and I have an intelligent Google Reader app that pushes the read count and my tasks app of choice (Todo by Appigo) pushes task notifications perfectly. In the words of Veruca Salt – “I Want it now!”
Now you know the symptoms of my disorder. What about the cause?
I believe my intense frustration stems from the unique relationship I have with my iPhone and the ridiculous wait we all had to endure for Push Notifications to arrive.
The iPhone is unlike any device I’ve owned. I resist writing this at the risk of sounding like I have an unhealthy attachment to my iPhone, but I have a hunch I’m not the only person like this.
I’ve spent nearly two years with my iPhone now and I’ve become accustomed to the familiarity of it. The feel of the device in my pocket every waking hour. Even when I’m asleep it’s less than two feet away from me. It’s quite literally the last thing I see before I go to bed and the first thing I see when I wake up. If it’s in someone else’s hands I want it back. That’s my iPhone, not yours. Go get your own!
The iPhone is simply the most powerful handheld device anyone has ever had. It can also be personalized to your heart’s content thanks to the App Store. I’m even encouraged to give it a name in iTunes. I went with “Rose.”
The point of all this is that my relationship with my iPhone is deeply personal. It’s as much a guiding companion for every aspect of my life as it is a super-cool gadget. I fully understand what the device is capable of and can customize it just the way I want.
This personal relationship with my iPhone extends to the apps I install on it. While I made the transition to my iPhone 3GS just fine my apps have been a complete mess. I spent the last two years growing accustomed to the abilities of my iPhone and the last year getting used to the way it works with apps. But now it’s a whole new ball game.
Currently I have two empty spots on my home screen and want them filled now. One is reserved for an acceptable RSS Reader application with Push badge updates but what to do with that last spot? Do I do something boring and put Settings back there?
Anyway, that’s my disorder. I hope you don’t suffer from it too.
As promised, here are a few push apps worthy of your attention:
Your iPhone is now MLB Central with this app and MLB At Bat.
If you’re a casual fan though and don’t need pitch by pitch details SportsTap does a great job on its own to keep you updated about your favorite team or teams. Push Notifications are sent at the beginning, end and when the score changes of games for any team (or teams) you specify.
Textfree Unlimited ($5.99) and Textfree Lite (Free)
I’ve killed monthly text message fees. Here’s how I did it. Give contacts your unique @textfree.us account name and say goodbye to monthly text message fees. It’s worked excellently for me so far. Textfree Unlimited is “unlimited” for only a year. You’ll have to pay up again. The free version limits you to 15 texts a day but also pushes messages the same way.
Both BeejiveIM and IM+ are both solid chat apps that let you log into all major chat protocols with some OS 3.0 glitches in their initial Push Notification releases. IM+ even pushes Twitter mentions and DMs.
Occasions pulls the birthdays, anniversaries and other dates from your contacts automatically and sends out Push Notifications notifying you about the event. The badge updates up to a month in advance to let you know about upcoming events.
With Prowl you can push any Growl alert from your Mac to your iPhone. For some, this could mean true push Twitter on your iPhone by Prowl forwards Twitter alerts from your desktop client. For others it could mean push Facebook updates. There are many uses for Growl notifications and you can use Prowl for any of them. You can even keep 30 days worth of growl notifications.
Check out the full Applist here.