It's always nice when you have an opportunity to talk to someone who has great suggestions on a topic that you are interested in. You are about to travel to Paris? Here's someone who lived there for the past year and who has fabulous recommendations on all of the things that you should do and see. You are looking for some great new TV shows to watch? Here is someone who has excellent recommendations for binge-worthy shows on HBO, Showtime, Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. I have an interest in the iPhone (I know — big surprise to you, right?) so I always love talking to other folks about how they are using their iPhones. With millions of apps in the App Store, and countless hardware accessories sold by Apple and third parties, I enjoy learning about the things that I haven't heard of before, or learning about how others are using apps or accessories in different ways.
I first met California attorney David Sparks a number of years ago at an ABA TECHSHOW conference, but I have been following him for much longer than that through his MacSparky website and the Mac Power Users podcast he does with Florida attorney Katie Floyd. David has deep knowledge of the iPhone and the iPad, and I always love talking to him about all things iOS for his perspective on how to get more out of these devices. And because he often writes posts about these topics on his website, I find myself linking to an article on MacSparky almost every Friday when I write my In the news roundup.
Wouldn't it be great if you could ask that friend who knows about Paris, or TV shows, or the iPhone, to just write down everything that they know and share it with you? That is the idea behind the latest electronic book by David Sparks called the iPhone Field Guide. David has taken just about everything in his brain concerning how you can get more out of an iPhone and poured it into this book, which you can read on the iPad and the iPhone. And because the iBooks system makes it possible to embed video into a page, this book also includes over two hours of videos in which David shows off how he uses his iPhone. It's almost like David was sitting next to you and showing you his iPhone, saying "let me show you what this cool app can do."
David sent me a promotional code so that I could download a free copy to review it for iPhone J.D., and I enjoyed reading all 452 pages of it this past weekend. This is a great book, and I highly recommend it to anyone who owns an iPhone and is interested in doing more with it — which should cover just about every person who reads iPhone J.D., except perhaps for the occasional Android owner who ends up here by accident.
The book contains 45 chapters and covers just about all of the topics that relate to using an iPhone. (One notable exception — although David is an attorney, this book doesn't include recommendations of apps that are specific to lawyers or other types of professionals.) Chapters include, just to pick a few examples, Photography, Calendar Apps, Security, Habit Trackers, Travel, Document Scanners, Mind Mapping, Outlining, Creating Video, and there is even a chapter on the Apple Watch because it is such a perfect iPhone companion.
For each topic, David gives you his recommendations. This is not an in-depth guide on how to use every little part of every app, and thus there is no chapter that exhaustively goes through every sub-menu of the Settings app. Instead, he picks a topic and tells you his top recommendations on that topic.
As an example, here is a page from the chapter on Mind Mapping in which David recommends MindNode for folks just getting started. As you can see, the page includes a description of the app, a two minute video in which David explains why he recommends this app and shows off how the app works, and a link to download the app in the App Store. This is page 308, but if you flip to page 309 where David finishes his discussion of the app, he includes a link to a series of videos he did for the developer of MindNode in which he spends about an hour explaining in detail how to use the app.
For another example, in the Creating Video chapter, David starts with a few pages giving you some general tips on shooting video with an iPhone. Next, he discusses apps, limiting himself to his best recommendations. He explains why the built-in Camera app is great for taking video because most features are automatic, but then explains why you should consider the FiLMic Pro app if you want manual controls for everything. Then he discusses editing video, starting with an overview of Apple's free iMovie app, and then he recommends a single third-party app for more powerful editing called LumaFusion. When describing that app, he states: "I tried just about every video editing app available while doing research for this book, and LumaFusion stands about them all. If you want more than the basic iPhone video editing tools, buy LumaFusion."
Those two sentences really sum up what this book is all about. There are lots of websites that have posts with titles like "the best time management apps" but then when you read the article, it is just a list of ten apps in the category with virtually no explanation on why one is better than the other. This book is the opposite of that. If you were to bump into David and say that you were interested in topic X and what would he recommend for that, he would say something like what I quoted above — this first app is the one most folks would want to use for that task, and here is a second app which is the best one to get if you want something more powerful.
There is something in this book for everyone who uses an iPhone. Even though I consider myself a power user and I know about a lot of different apps, I learned a bunch reading this book and I downloaded quite a few apps this past weekend while reading the book. I also learned some new things. For example, there is a chapter on Siri commands that is more comprehensive than anything that I have ever seen on the subject. Many times as I was reading through that chapter, I stopped myself to say "can Siri really do that?" and then I tried the command and saw that it worked.
I think that the best way to read this book is on an iPad. That's how the book is laid out. But David also takes advantage of the way that iBooks works so that you can also enter a scrolling view on the iPhone, a view in which you can scroll through the text, pictures, and videos (much like you might scroll through a web page in Safari) and you can change the font size to whatever you prefer. So if you want to start reading this book on the iPad, but then a read a chapter or two on your iPhone while you find yourself with a little down time, you can definitely do that. Here is an example of how a page looks on my iPad Pro, and then how the same page looks on the iPhone both before and after I turn on scrolling view.
For a limited time during the introductory period of this new book, David is offering this book for $20. At some point in the future, the price will go up. The book is packed with useful information and recommendations, and perhaps thanks to his long career as a lawyer, David is a very good writer and this book is enjoyable to read. I enthusiastically recommend the iPhone Field Guide to all iPhone J.D. readers.
Click here to get the iPhone Field Guide by David Sparks ($19.99):