I absolutely love working this way! I am sitting in my living room comfy chair and happily writing my first AppleVis blog. All the computer I need is right here. My iPhone 5S is in my shirt pocket, my Apple ear pods are where they belong, and my Logitech Bluetooth Keys-To-Go keyboard is cool and light on my lap. Except for taking my guide dog outside for another break, I cannot think of a single good reason to get up.
For many decades, I aspired to being connected, to being productive, while being some place other than at my desk. I was so tired of being pinned down. I wanted to get real work done on my front porch, at the park, or in a moving car, at any time I pleased. I wanted access to everything, access to the entire world, even if I happen to be sitting in a Parisian cafe. And, I wanted my accessibility solution to fit in my pocket. Dream big. Think small.
Like many other micro geeks at the beginning of the information revolution, I spent way too much time and money on the evolving technology. I had my Apple II, a Radio Shack TRS-80, and an IBM PC. Other less notable short-timers passed beneath my fingertips. Unfortunately, once planted on your desk, you usually let them be. Getting small would take time.
I was an early Apple enthusiast. I was excited when the original 128K Macintosh came out in 1984. It was clever, useful, and purportedly portable. Well, not so portable. I once tried to force my Mac into an airplane overhead compartment. That didn't work. Next, the 1989 Macintosh Portable made the promise in its name. At nearly 16 pounds, it was more like carrying a bowling ball. The PowerBook 170, which was introduced in 1991, was the first great laptop, and it qualified as truly portable. At least in those days. At 6.8 pounds, it was roughly the same weight as a newborn baby. And unlike some small children on planes, the PowerBook 170 never screamed, kicked the back of your seat, or smelled funny.
With my deteriorating vision, I had tools that made my Macs accessible for a time. I used inLarge and CloseView. When my eyesight further faded, and VoiceOver on the Mac was not yet available, I switched to Jaws on the PC.
When no one was looking, cell phones were suddenly everywhere. They were good for making calls, typing text with thumbs, and being dropped in toilets. I adopted one that could actually talk. It didn't say much, but it had tactile buttons. Even so, it was just a phone and not much of a computing device. Small, but not bright.
The iPhone was introduced in 2007 and was inaccessible right out of the box. I started hearing about how smart phones were going to change the world. I was concerned that the visual touch interfaces, like that on the iPhone, would cut the blind right out of the mainstream. And, for a short time, we listened to other people talk about an amazing technology that was impossible for us to use. However, in the summer of 2009, the iPhone suddenly found its own voice. I was skeptical. I wasn't convinced that rubbing my fingers across a smooth piece of glass, even if it could talk, would ever be much of a solution. I held back. A year later, several friends told me to give VoiceOver a try. I took a chance. I walked into the local AT&T store and asked if they could transfer everything from my perfectly useful Nokia flip phone to a new iPhone 4. If I was going to jump into the pool, then I would do so without a floatation device.
Over the first week, I had a terrible time just trying to make phone calls. If my iPhone somehow magically called the person that I was attempting to reach, I would have to talk to them all day. I could not dependably hang up the phone.
By the second week, I was no longer cursing in my sleep. I had begun to get a feel for this really interesting new device. I could make calls, and hang them up. I could find icons on my home screen and successfully launch applications. I started to see the utility of the iPhone and began to wonder what else I could do with this small computer.
With my old PC becoming less stable, along with my renewed interest in all things Apple, I decided to move my daily business tasks to a MacBook Air. After a comparable learning curve, and gaining some expertise with the Mac implementation of VoiceOver, I found the new laptop computer very comfortable. Still, it was not always easy to quickly work from a laptop. I had to carry it around in a backpack or briefcase. It just wasn't convenient enough. It was time for small.
The biggest hindrance to my accomplishing more with my iPhone, and using it for a greater variety of creative tasks, was that minuscule keyboard that appeared at the bottom of the screen whenever I wanted to input text. I could use it successfully, but writing anything longer than a short text message was painfully slow. So, I bought Apple's Bluetooth keyboard. I discovered that I could move around at traditional keyboard speeds on the iPhone and actually make things happen. Now, I had to find apps that were both really useful and really accessible. I had a very powerful computer in my hand and I was determined to make it act like one.
I began to put serious efforts into finding iPhone solutions that really could replace my need for a desktop operating system. I focused on discovering a subset of useful apps that would meet, or nearly meet, my expectations. Sometimes, I discovered a better app. Other times, a really nice app suddenly became inaccessible. I am always looking for a better spreadsheet interface and I am always hunting for a more powerful audio editor. I still lust for the day when everything I want to do inside my cloud-based file system can easily be accomplished on my iPhone.
I have also looked at the hardware options that make my new computer even easier to use. I have acquired numerous Bluetooth keyboards and keep finding new reasons to love them. I've experimented with wired and Bluetooth headphones with mixed results. My ultimate goal is to find the perfect combination of both hardware and software so that I really can work from anywhere and at any time.
What I hope to share with you over the coming months is what I am learning in my endeavor to create a total business system, information station, and entertainment center right on my iPhone. I also hope to learn much from you and others in the AppleVis community. I believe there is a significant advantage to always having a fully functional computer in your purse or shirt pocket. I love my Apple iPhone pocket computer. Let's work at making it even more powerful. Let's think small.