Mobile Learning

Why everyone will have an iphone within two years

I’ve been avoiding Apple devices since around 1996 when I decided that having both a Mac and a PC on my desk was getting ridiculous. While Macs were in many ways better than Windows-based machines they were clearly losing the adoption war. The arrival of the iPod failed to win me back, perhaps because they were so trendy. Instead I bought a Sony Walkman. The more recent appearance of MacBooks in meetings in front of their smug owners increasingly put me off the brand. But last week I had my road to Cupertino experience. I bought an iPhone. I’m now a convert, a neophyte of Steve Jobs. Here’s why.

User interface
The interface is superb, a positive pleasure to use. The applications have a minimum of functionality appropriate for a handheld device. Navigation, rather than being problematic is intuitive and includes satisfying effects like the rebound when you get to the end of a list. Doing away with the need for a stylus was a masterstroke and I’m now finding the on-screen keyboard easy to use.

There is some room for improvement: writing this blog post using WordPress is a awkward; navigating round the GPS application is not straightforward. These issues are not however insurmountable.

This device brings together so much functionality that there really is no need for anything else to clutter up your pockets and in many situations you’ll be able to dispense with a laptop now. This must mark the death of the PDA too. My MP3 player is now unlikely to see the light of day again. I’ll not be investing in a GPS now either. I will still however need a separate compact camera or SLR with me at times though but only because photography is a bit of a hobby.

Finally I have almost ubiquitous web access on a screen that makes it viable, particularly if the site is formatted for mobile devices. Where a wireless LAN is available it can connect to that, otherwise 3G connection speeds are pretty good. Even my “net generation” daughter was bowled over that she could watch YouTube videos ok it as we drove through the English Lake District. Best of all, due to a mistake by my ISP we currently have no broadband for several days over the Christmas period. In this household that is probably worse than running out of heating oil. The iPhone at least allows me continued if somewhat limited Internet access.

User evangelists
I have heard so many people say how much they love these things that this was one of the main factors in me purchasing one. It is very easy to impress people by demoing them and I really should be on commission…

Within two years most people will be replacing their mobile phones. It will become increasingly pointless and difficult not to get a new device with this kind of functionality.

Why I’m actually wrong and not quite everyone will have an iPhone

  • These devices are pretty inaccessible for people with some visual impairments or mobility issues.
  • There are of course other 3G phones in the market and competitors will produce machines better than this pretty quickly.
  • iPhones are more expensive than some other phones and in the UK you’re forced to sign up with one supplier only: O2.
  • It’s irritating to have to load the iTunes software onto your PC to get the phone functioning at all (though it did install easily and works well) and there are continual attempts to get you to sign up with the iTunes store. I have resisted these so far but will be forced to do so if I want additional software.

Will I be able to learn from my iPhone?
Learning providers are going to have to start providing their LMSs/VLEs and other websites in mobile friendly formats. Small easily digestible chunks of learning content, quizes, videos and podcasts all make sense through this medium and the possibilities for interaction between learners and for user-generated content are massive. It has taken me quite a long time but I’ve been able to write this blog post fairly easily using a device which I can already feel is going to cause me separation anxiety if I lose it.