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Own the ‘Phone’ in iPhone 3G

July 24, 2008 by Derek Walter 

You walk out of an Apple or AT&T store with your brand new iPhone 3G. So of course you want to call your buddies and share your good fortune with them.  But if you’re an iPhone newbie, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. For all the cool apps the iPhone provides, it’s easy to forget that it’s also a phone. The unusual phone interface might be intimidating if you have never used it or any smart phone before.

But fear not. Soon enough you will be loading up your contact list, checking your voicemail; even doing it all with a Bluetooth device. While it’s different, Apple’s predictability for user-friendly design shines here. You will find five icons with labels.

Contacts

Who you gonna call? No one if you don’t have them in your contacts list. There are several ways to add to your list of friends. Of course you can enter them manually, which is a very easy-to-use system of tapping the plus button and throwing in as many details as you want: mobile number, home number, e-mail, and other contact information. You can even customize the picture so you can see who the face of who is calling – if it’s a face worth seeing, that is. Customizing the ring tone per caller is also an option, so you can get alerts if one of your annoying friends is calling you or if it’s a number you want to answer.

iTunes allows you to sync your contacts with Outlook, Windows Live Mail, Apple Mail, or Gmail. But be careful if going the Google route; Gmail’s penchant for saving every single person you have ever emailed as a contact can create a fairly lengthy list. That annoying professor you had to email papers to in college is probably not exactly someone you want on your iPhone contact list. Depending on how many of your email contacts you also want to call, it may be worth it to manually add the ones you want. It may take a bit more time, but unless you are a power business user it will keep your contact list further simplified.

Favorites

Everyone has those list of people whose phone numbers they want at the ready. The good news here is that you can have that. You can add any of your contacts to this list, giving you an easier opportunity to speed dial. The only down side is unlike phones with a dedicated keyboard, you can’t just pick up your phone, hold down the number five, and dial your girlfriend.

Voicemail

This one of the iPhone’s strongest features. No more wading through a long line of messages from people you didn’t want to really talk to anyway. Instead you get a snappy scroll-down list of who called. This gives you the freedom to tap the message you want, and listen to the ones from your family members or bill collectors much, much later.

Recents

Not everyone will leave you a message. Apple helps helps you out with a recent calls list, that lets you access any missed, made, or received calls. The familiar red button pops above this icon when you have a missed call so you can get to it quickly.

Keypad

Might as well put that big screen to use. Hence the large, easy-to-use keypad. Who needs tactile feedback when you have numbers this good looking? Plus the numbers you tap pop up on a horizontal bar along the top of the screen.

Talk features

When having a conversation the iPhone lets you change some of your call options. The screen is also smart: it turns black when you put the phone up to your face, but turns back on when you move it away. And while talking you can switch to Bluetooth, put it on hold, or switch to a speaker call.

It is likely more features will come as the iPhone software continues to update. But mastering these essential features will put you in a good standing to roll with any future changes.

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