The iPhone is probably the best media centric consumer grade smartphone to date. But considering the added PDA functionality and ability to add third party software I see no reason why it can’t also be used as a productivity tool. So I decided to take on this task with nothing more than a little creativity and some third party applications.
The main reason why I chose this project was because I had a need to fill. That need being; to create a study guide to get me through my Emergency Medical Technician re-certification course without carrying anything extra to class including the EMT book for the next 6 months. The catch here was that it has to be updatable as pre-hospital procedures change during an EMTs career and easy for any other EMT to understand if read. My other reason was merely the challenge of getting through the entire course without having to write anything using pen and paper. My only exception to the rules is the use of a highlighter pen which I use to mark important sections of the EMT book and of course the usual written examinations given.
The first thing I did was to enter in the entire schedule of classes in the Calendar application of the iPhone. I did this because the course is pre-planned based on the EMT book. This would keep me ahead on the reading that had to be done. I entered the schedule mostly using the iPhone and a few using the Calendar application in MobileMe. Total time was about 45 minutes to enter all the information needed to avoid picking up the paper schedule ever again.
During training I use the built-in Notes application for quick note taking and keeping track of my test scores during class. For this course note taking is only for important testing information and any protocol changes. Even without any organizational functions the Notes application comes in very handy for jotting down important information.
I also found it quite useful to record the lectures for listening to later in case I missed something or to add information to the notes I already took. To accomplish this I used the free version of Griffin’s iTalk Recorder application. I chose iTalk for a few reasons but mainly because it is easy to use, and is free. Since I felt the iPhone would eventually get voice recording which was revealed on March 17, 2009 to be coming with the 3.0 update I didn’t feel compelled to dish out money for this just yet. For a free offering iTalk is a well thought out product, without being complicated and compersome to use making it an excellent choice. One of the features is being able to name each recording which makes it easy to keep recordings organized. Griffin’s iTalk Sync, the desktop client transfers the voice notes directly to the PC via WiFi giving you the added ability backup and/or archive important recording.
Another tool I use is Apple’s MobileMe in conjunction with Quickoffice’s MobileFiles. Using MobileMe I was able to upload the courses entire powerpoint presentation, the PDFs of the Practical Skills Sheets and the NYS Protocals to the My Documents folder. Then, using MobileFiles I created a folder on the iPhone called “EMT-B Training” and downloaded all the files to my iPhone for fast anytime access. This also eliminated any worries with poor cellular signals in the building or anywhere I am when I need to view them.
Using MobileFiles is pretty simple as you just need to sign into your MobileMe account to access your uploaded files. I use the basic version of MobileFiles since all I currently require is access to MobileMe and viewing of files. There’s currently 3 versions available, each with added capabilities should you need more than just the basic MobileMe access and functions.
Once all this was done I still needed to create the study guide itself. So I chose to use eWallet by Ilium Software. This was a “no brainer” for me as I already use it and it’s flexibility made accomplishing this part quite enjoyable. I created a wallet called “EMT Study Guide” and from there proceeded to add sections (folders), subsections (sub folders) and finally cards with all the necessary detailed information.
eWallet is a good secure wallet application that many of us former Windows Mobile users know quite well. eWallet’s main purpose is for maintaining important and private information in a secure file. But, the versatility of the software and and the ability to sync back and forth with the desktop client makes using and setting up eWallet as a study guide a breeze.
I am by no means finished with this but it is turning out to be quite a fun project. Suffice it to say I will not need pen and paper for this course. The iPhone has all my needs covered and it is a pleasure finding new ways to use software in which it was not originally intended for.
As you can see I really did nothing special except make use of what I have available to me. The iPhone has everything you need to be productive on a regular basis and best of all; it’s always with you. So the next time someone says “the iPhone is not a business or productivity tool” tell them that just isn’t true. This type of productivity is the sign of a true uber power user in my book. Take what you already have and expliot it to it’s fullest potential; adding only what you need.