Did you just get an iPhone and are you wondering what to do with this marvelous piece of technology? Well, you’ve come to the right place! It’s probably very different from any other cell phone you’ve used before but its user interface is quite intuitive out of the box, but it can take a little work to get it up and running with all of your media, email, and more. Let’s get started!
First, one important reference item for you to download and/or bookmark: the iPhone User Guide. Presumably in order to save space and a few trees, iPhones don’t come with a manual in the box – you only get a brief guide called “Finger Tips” and small product guide that contains all of the legally-required warnings and certifications. But rest assured that there is a full User Guide that has a lot of useful information in it and you can find it here.
Before you dive into the guide, let’s take a moment to map out what you need to get your iPhone up and running with everything you need on it from the get-go. Probably the item that needs the most preparation is if you want to be able to access a work email account on your iPhone, since you may need to see your company’s IT department first. Other than this, you may want to check that you have all of the music, videos, and photos you’d like to have on your iPhone ready on the computer with which you’ll be synchronizing it.
Ready to get started? Okay! Get that shiny iPhone out of its box and take a moment to enjoy it’s sleek loveliness.
If you’ve already turned it on, it’s probably showing you this screen right now:
The iPhone must be connected to iTunes on your computer to be activated. Ensure you have iTunes on your PC or Mac – it’s free and you can download it from here.
Once you have iTunes installed – if you hadn’t already – use the included USB cable to connect the iPhone to your computer. iTunes does a decent job of walking you through the set-up process to determine what you can sync to your iPhone, but here’s some more information that’s not provided in the guided set-up.
You can set up multiple email accounts on your iPhone and it already has pre-entered server information to make setting up accounts with common providers, like Yahoo, Gmail, and Apple’s own MobileMe service, very easy. You can create accounts on the iPhone directly or sync accounts you already have set up on your Mac or PC (in Mail or Microsoft Outlook) to the iPhone. If you sync accounts from your computer to your iPhone, note that the only thing transferred to your iPhone are the settings for each account – the iPhone will independently download messages on its own once the settings for each account are saved on it.
If you want to set up a work email account, you may need to speak to your IT department to get permission and/or access to this, particularly if you work for a large corporation that has strict guidelines about IT security. If your company uses Microsoft Exchange Server, your work email will be pushed to your iPhone (essentially meaning that new messages will automatically be sent to your iPhone without your iPhone having to poll the server for new messages on a set schedule) and your contacts and calendar will sync automatically over-the-air with your work computer.
If you have or are thinking about buying Apple’s MobileMe service (which retails for $99 for a 1-year subscription though it can be found much cheaper on Amazon or eBay), this will provide similar functionality to Microsoft Exchange Server synchronization for your contacts and calendar on your home computer as well as push email with a MobileMe email account.
For those who want the ultimate level of connectivity for work and personal information with push email and over-the-air synchronization of your contacts and calendars all around, you can set up your iPhone to sync via Microsoft Exchange Server and MobileMe at the same time.
The iPhone is capable of playing a variety of music file formats, including AAC, Protected AAC, MP3, MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV. If you already have a large music collection on your computer, it’s likely that it’s already in a format that will work on the iPhone. If not, you can use iTunes to convert your music files into a compatible format – you can find instructions on how to do this here.
If you’re an audiophile, you’re probably already cringing at the thought of listening to digital music files given that the compression during conversion results in the loss of data. If this is the case, you may want to select the Apple Lossless file format when you convert your music from its original format. This will result in large audio files which means you’ll be able to fit less music onto your iPhone, but you’ll get music that sounds better.
A quick note on the iTunes Store: Just because you sync your iPhone through iTunes doesn’t mean that you can only purchase music from the iTunes Store for your iPhone. Aside from importing music from your own CDs, you can purchase digital music files from other sellers, such as Amazon and eMusic, which both sell music in MP3 format that will work on the iPhone and all iPod models. Amazon’s prices are generally lower than what you’d find on iTunes and eMusic offers subscription plans to provide a certain number of downloads per month. It may take a couple of extra steps to put the music you purchase from other sources into your iTunes library to sync to your iPhone, but the savings may be worth it to you.
The iPhone is capable of playing back H.264 and MPEG-4 video files. If your existing video files aren’t in a format that will work on the iPhone, iTunes has a handy menu option to do this conversion for you – simply to go the Advanced menu and choose “Create iPod or iPhone Version.” The conversion can take a little while to complete, but you’ll end up with a file that is definitely play-able on your iPhone. It does create a separate duplicate of the original video and you can safely delete the original if you no longer want it.
You can purchase TV shows and movies (and even rent movies) from the iTunes Store, all of which can be transferred to and viewed on your iPhone. Unlike music, though, there aren’t many other sources for purchasing video that will be compatible out-of-the box with your iPhone. DVDs are encrypted and require special software to decrypt them and convert the files to an iPhone-compatible format. Be conscious of copyright laws since decrypting DVDs in this manner may be illegal in your country. With that said, there is great information in our forums on DVD conversion software for PC users here and Mac users here.
The iPhone’s 3.5-inch screen can make it a handy alternative to carrying around a wallet full of pictures of your kids and it’s easy to sync photos from your computer to it. Mac users can choose to sync photos from their iPhoto or Aperture photo libraries and PC users can choose photos in their Adobe PhotoShop Elements (version 3.0 or later) library. Once photos are synced to your iPhone, you can show them off in a slideshow in the Photos app or even email them or send them via MMS to others, though note that the iPhone reduces the quality of pictures sent as email attachments or in MMS messages so you’ll probably want to wait until you get to your computer if you’re sending pictures to others intended for them to print out.
When the iPhone first came out in 2007, there was no easy way to get custom ringtones onto it, nor even buy any. Fortunately, this has changed and you can purchase ringtones through iTunes and sync them to your iPhone (and purchasing them through the iTunes app on the iPhone directly automatically saves the ringtone files to the right place so you can use them right away) or you can make your own using GarageBand (there’s a good tutorial here) on a Mac or a variety of 3rd-party software applications that have popped up for both the PC and Mac. On the Mac, iToner is one such application and iRinger is one for the PC. iToner costs $15 and offers a 30-day free trial and iRinger is free.
If you’d rather not bother with a 3rd-party application, you can use iTunes alone to make ringtones out of your music on your Mac or PC using this tutorial. Note that ringtones longer than 30 seconds made by any method may not work.
Ah, now you’ve come to one of the iPhone’s best features – its 3rd-party application store. The App Store can be browsed through iTunes on your computer or directly on your iPhone through the App Store app. There are over 75,000 apps available at the time of this article’s writing, so it can be a bit much to browse through. Our forum members have good discussions of available apps in this forum and you can find detailed reviews on EverythingiCafe.com.
The App Store in all its glory
You must have an iTunes account to make a purchase. After you’ve got one, the world is your oyster. Want an app to guide you unerringly to your nearest Starbucks? Want an app that can control your DirecTV DVR while you’re away from home? Or one that will give you turn-by-turn voice-guided directions while you’re on vacation in Italy? There are apps to do all that and much more.
If you have more than one iPhone or iPod touch in your household, purchased apps can easily be shared among them all as long as they are all synced to the same iTunes account. If you have multiple computers in your household, Apple allows iTunes accounts to be authorized on up to 5 different computers, so it’s still possible to share purchased music, videos, and apps within your household.
Caring for your iPhone
The iPhone is not a cheap device and you may be concerned about keeping it in good shape since repairing or replacing it could be a costly proposition. There are literally thousands of accessories available for it out there, from basic screen protectors and cases to zoom lens attachments for the camera. One good place to start shopping is the EverythingiCafe store and our iPhone Accessories and Cases forums contain a lot of good information on the most popular accessories.
With that said, it’s worth it to be careful with your iPhone. While there’s an oleophobic coating on the screen of the new iPhone 3GS, there have been reports that it wears off with frequent use. Accidental damage of any kind will not be covered under warranty. There are 2 water sensors – one inside the headphone port and another inside the dock connector – that Apple checks before providing warranty support and if these sensors have been tripped, the iPhone’s warranty will be voided. If you break the iPhone’s screen, Apple will replace it for you for $199. Apple also specifies operating and non-operating minimum and maximum temperatures for the iPhone (operating temperatures between 32º and 95º F and non-operating temperatures between -4º and 113º F) so don’t leave it in a car on a hot day or expect it to work without a hitch while hiking in Alaska mid-winter.
Now that you’re all set up with your new iPhone, there’s so much you can do with it! Stay tuned for more how to guides to help you maximize your iPhone experience.