Elliot Jay Stocks is a designer, speaker, and author. He is the Creative Director of Adobe Typekit, co-founder of lifestyle magazine Lagom, founder of typography magazine 8 Faces, and an electronic musician.

The iPhone can make you a better person

Posted on 30 November 2007 Comments

Article illustration for The iPhone can make you a better person

Well… perhaps.

If you’ll forgive the intentionally sensationalist title, there’s actually a semi-serious point behind it; namely, that the iPhone – or more specifically a more readily-available mobile web – is changing the way that we communicate. Ok, nothing earth-shatteringly profound about that, I admit, but in just a week’s use of the iPhone, I’m finding myself responding to more e-mails, replying straight away instead of waiting several hours (or days, or weeks), and just generally getting a bit better at staying in touch.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m crap at replying promptly to friends’ e-mails. I think several of my friends have pretty much given up on me because of it and I don’t blame them at all. But now I’m making a conscious effort to change (after all, I used to be good) and the iPhone is letting me do that, simply by giving me easier access to my e-mail and the web at large. Well, this is nothing new, I hear you say. Mobile e-mail has been around for ages and the Blackberry is testament to its popularity, but the difference is that the Blackberry is largely confined to business users, where as the iPhone is more of a consumer device. Plus the fact that it’s so much nicer to use, of course! But I won’t go into that here…

Now, at this point I should probably admit that the mobile web (at least in the UK) is – let’s face it – not much more than a pipe dream. EDGE coverage is shoddy (and raising a worryingly bad connectivity problem) and access to the country-wide WiFi network The Cloud (which O2 customers are meant to get as part of the tariff) is even worse. In a week, I’ve only been able to access The Cloud twice: in a pub and a train station in different parts of the country.

However, I’ve still found myself getting better at replying to e-mails, even if I’ve had to compose a message on a train and wait until I get into a station to send it. The O2 iPhone plans are some of the first in the country to offer unlimited data at a decent price, and this is quite clearly going to pave the way for others; the mobile web – even in its infancy – is now becoming more of a viable opportunity for the average user. I’m also thankful for the huge number of iPhone-specific web apps such as Hahlo or iphone.facebook.com. At first I was very much against segregating browsers, but with the data connectivity in its current state, I’m quite happy to be served up a ‘lite’ version of my most-visited sites.

Some of you might rightfully be saying that if I wanted to keep in touch with my friends more effectively, I should just call them. Well, yes, there is that, but it’s also not practical for the majority of of the time. Like me, most of my friends find e-mail (plus Facebook messages and the like) the most effective form of contact, especially over distance.

So what about you guys? Have you found a similar pattern with your own iPhone usage? I’d like to hear from some of my American chums who’ve had the device for almost 6 months: has anything changed over this time period? What about Canadian users? Data plans have always been extortionately high in Canada as well as the UK, so I’d be interested to hear if anything’s changed. Share your thoughts!

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