Smartphone assistance

Maureen Corrigan
Summary 
I said I did not need a smartphone. I was happy with my old mobile phone. I also had mobile internet for my notebook computer. But then I discovered I could replace two things with one smartphone. And it would not be more expensive. My new iPhone 4 does a lot more than my old devices for the same price. It makes life easier. There are thousands of applications available for the iPhone. But I am still looking for more applications for people with a disability.
Posted by: 
Maureen Corrigan on 02/08/2011
An Apple iPhone 4 smartphone resting on its side with a variety of app icons shown on the screen
iphone4

I said I didn't need a smartphone

I said I didn't need a smartphone. I didn't think there would be any benefit. I had a fairly recent mobile phone. I also had wireless broadband for my notebook computer. I also thought a smartphone would cost too much. But I was wrong on both counts.

The old world

My mobile phone was a four year old Nokia 6120 classic. I was on a $20 monthly plan. I just used it mostly for short messages (SMS). It was serving me well. I had used it overseas without a problem. I had taken videos and photos when I was without a camera. I could share them with others using MMS. I also had access to news, maps and telephone numbers. The phone also had a web browser but I never used it because it seemed too difficult.

My wireless mobile broadband for my notebook computer seemed fast enough. It was slow when travelling outside big cities. But I thought that was just the way things were. It was not cheap though. It cost me about $50 a month.

The new world

Some of my friends have iPhones. They rave about how great they are. They have often told me that I would love one. But I wondered what I could do with it that I couldn't already do. I also worried about the cost. The cost-benefit analysis did not seem to stack up. But the penny dropped when I realised that you can use an iPhone to provide mobile internet access to a computer.

I did the sums. I could replace my two devices with one for the same price. I learnt a bit more about what a smartphone could do. I ended up purchasing an iPhone 4. It does everything that I could do before. It also does a lot more. And it is a lot faster and more convenient. It is a whole new world.

The App Store

At first I was just thrilled with simple things like the compass and the touchscreen. But as I continued to learn more about what my new smartphone can do I was amazed. The online App Store has so many different applications available. Many are free, while most cost only a few dollars. Apple says there are 425,000 apps available.

I have downloaded a good café guide. I can now check out nearby coffee places without carrying a book. I can also make comments about their accessibility using Twitter or write a more formal review.

I have also searched for tools to assist people with a disability. The first one I installed was Wheelmap. It says it helps people find out whether locations are wheelchair accessible. But all the places that I have tried so far are marked accessibility unknown. I am keen to hear what other apps people have found useful. Let me know in the comments section below.

Readers comments (3)

Well, you've got me sold!!!

As a late P.S. to my story above, the mobile internet access to a computer via my iPhone 4 is called a Personal Hotspot. It is found under Settings below Wi-Fi. If it is not there then I think you have to talk with your service provider and it says something to that effect under Settings, General.

I realised I forgot to say in the article above what the connection was called. When I read a recent article in livewire in the The Age Green Guide the woman in the article spoke of having an epiphany when she discovered Personal Hotspot on her iPhone 4. That was exactly how I felt when I found out.

I still have not found any good wheelchair apps yet.

Likely by now you know about the new Out and About App (re accessible venues). I wrote an article about it on Divine when it was launched.

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