Just yesterday, I got the call that I have gotten countless times before. This time it was a law partner of mine, other times it has been a friend or a relative, but the question is always along these lines: "Jeff, I just got an iPhone. What should I do next?" Thanks to the folks at No Starch Press who sent me a review copy of one of their new books, I now have a great answer: read the book My New iPhone by Wallace Wang.
I wasn't familiar with Wallace Wang before I read this book. Not only does he write computer books, but he is also a stand up comedian who has performed in Las Vegas and appeared on A&E's Evening at the Improv. His comedy doesn't carry over into this book, however; the writing style is clear and helpful, without, for example, the zaniness that you find in books written by Andy Ihnatko.
The approach to this book is really quite brilliant. The book is organized almost like a cookbook, but instead of recipes, in here you find 52 projects organized in to 10 parts. Each project is set up the same way: an introduction, the project goal, a list of what you will be using such as a list of apps or sometimes a program on the computer, step-by-step instructions with tons of pictures from the iPhone, and then finally some additional ideas for taking the skills learned to the next level and a sidebar that shows a related project, third party app or idea. Much like a cookbook, you can really read the book in any order that you want, so you can start with the projects that interest you the most and then make your way through the book. By the time you are finished, you will go from being an iPhone novice to an iPhone power user.
Note that while the book is up to date as of iPhone Software 3.0, it doesn't discuss the unique features of the iPhone 3GS. That doesn't detract much from the projects, but just keep in mind that this book doesn't include advice for taking videos or using the compass.
I won't list all 52 projects, but here are some examples:
#5 Searching Your iPhone
#18 Creating Ringtones
#21 Customizing Your iPod Settings
#25 Listening to Audiobooks and Podcasts
#29 Personalizing the Safari Browser
#37 Storing Contact Information
#44 Watching the Stock Market
#47 Making an iPhone Kid Friendly
#50 Traveling with Your iPhone
If you want to get a feel for a sample project, click here to go to the publisher's website (No Starch Press) where you can download a free copy of Project #22 Turning Your iPhone into a Radio. That will give you a good sense of what the book as a whole is like.
In the past, I have always recommended that beginning iPhone users looking for a book to read check out David Pogue's iPhone: The Missing Manual book. As great as Pogue's book is, Wang's book offers a nice alternative. If you want a soup-to-nuts manual, you'll love the Pogue book, but if you want to just tackle one project at a time, going in your own order and at your own pace like you would do with a cookbook, you'll love Wang's book.
The retail price of the book is $29.95, but if you click here you can get it on Amazon for only $19.77, and a tiny percentage of each sale helps to defray the cost of running iPhone J.D. If you or someone you know is new to the iPhone, this book is a great resource.