I’ve used mobile devices heavily in my work for a long time but none in recent memory has impacted my routine more than the big new iPhone.
When I get a new smartphone I set out to make it part of my work routine. Most phones don’t make much of a difference, and I expected that would be the case with the iPhone 6 Plus. I was wrong about that, and it’s one of those times I’m glad I was.
(Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)
The iPhone 6 Plus has become a big part of my work day. I have it in hand far more than any phone that came before, and that’s quite a few. Tasks previously relegated to a tablet are now done routinely on the iPhone.
It’s not a single feature, rather the combination of hardware and software that has resulted in the expanded utility I get from the iPhone 6 Plus. That’s not surprising, as rarely is a single feature or function game-changing.
The 5.5-inch screen on the iPhone 6 Plus is one reason I’m using it to do more. The size and resolution of the display lets me see plenty on the screen at once, and with apps optimized for iOS 8 and the iPhone 6 Plus display, l see that information in a good format. No matter what I’m doing, with iPhone in hand I don’t feel I need a bigger screen like those on tablets.
The big display makes working in landscape orientation a good fit for some things I do regularly. Whether it’s a nicely programmed two-pane display or a good full-screen layout of a well-designed app, it expands the functionality of the phone for working.
I’ve used phones with big screens, and none have been good enough to assume a major role in my work routine. That’s due to the apps. They often didn’t display well on a big display. Text was too small to be useful, controls were not intuitively placed on the screen, or elements weren’t positioned well.
It is totally different with the iPhone 6 Plus. Most apps I use regularly are optimized by the developers for the big screen. Lots of information is displayed at once in a layout that takes full advantage of the screen real estate. In many apps, controls are well placed and get out of the way when not needed. I now prefer to use one of my work apps on the iPhone 6 Plus over other devices, including the iPad Air. Working with these apps on the iPhone 6 Plus is natural and productive.
My work can be categorized in three major areas: online research, writing and editing. I use a number of apps in all three categories. The iPhone 6 Plus is proving to be a valuable tool in the research and editing stages of my work.
I wouldn’t do any heavy writing on the phone; that’s relegated to laptops or the iPad Air with a keyboard. But I use Evernote exclusively for writing on a laptop or the iPad Air with keyboard, which makes editing on the iPhone 6 Plus possible, as all my writing projects are in the cloud.
The apps I use for online research:
Safari — All web surfing I do for work is with this browser. I have long been a Chrome user, and while I have it installed on the iPhone 6 Plus, I rarely use it.
Zite — This news aggregator is a great app on iOS 8. It presents information on the big iPhone screen in a way that is easy to read at a glance, and I can go through hundreds of news items in a few minutes.
Feedly — I follow thousands of RSS news sources daily, and this app is efficient for doing this. Using Feedly on the iPhone 6 Plus has become my favorite way to work with RSS, by far.
CNN — This app presents world news in a format that makes it easy to see what’s going on at a glance, and what’s worth diving into for more detail. The integration of text and video is particularly good in landscape on the iPhone.
NYT Now — This news app also makes good use of the big iPhone screen. It presents the top stories from the NYT and updates all day with breaking news.
Acompli — This has quickly become my email app of choice. It automatically separates priority email from the rest, allowing me to focus on what’s important during the busy work day.
Evernote — The expanded sharing function in iOS 8 is something I use heavily in my work. When I run across something of interest using the apps above, I share it with a few taps to Evernote. This keeps it right where I need it.
Tweetbot — I see a lot of breaking news first on Twitter, and this app is the client I prefer. I’ve tested a few others but keep coming back to Tweetbot.
The iPhone apps I use for editing:
Evernote — As previously mentioned, I do the heavy writing on the iPad using Evernote. Since Evernote keeps my work in the cloud in real time, it’s always available on all my devices. This works so well I find myself doing a lot of editing work on the iPhone 6 Plus. With the big screen, the onscreen keyboard is easy to use, and editing is very productive. I can enter one or two paragraphs without hesitation. This was the biggest surprise to me as because before the iPhone 6 Plus, I could never comfortably do this.
SwiftKey — I have used this keyboard for years on Android devices and installed it right away when first available. It didn’t work well at first given problems in iOS 8, but those have been ironed out and it now works well. The cloud-based predictive text reflects my long-time use of the keyboard and it is a big reason why my editing work is so good on the iPhone.
Big display and apps aside, the fantastic battery life I’m getting on the iPhone 6 Plus is another reason why it’s working so well for my work. I’m getting at least a day and a half out of a charge, something not always the case with phones in the past.
I normally head out very early for my work day, and often come back very late. Even with the large role the iPhone 6 Plus is playing in my work routine, I don’t have to worry about the battery lasting all day. This is the way it should be with mobile devices used for work, but not always the case.
I didn’t set out to try to use the iPhone 6 Plus heavily during the work day, it happened naturally given the benefits I’ve mentioned. I used to carry a small tablet like the Kindle Fire HDX to do the things I now do on the iPhone. I wanted to make sure I could get work things done should the opportunity present itself, and that meant a tablet.
Now when I head out with no plans to do writing, I bring only the iPhone 6 Plus. I no longer need a tablet, and that is a profound change in my routine. This works for me because of how seamlessly the hardware and software work together on the iPhone 6 Plus. It’s not good enough to have one or two features, hardware or software, that stand out. It’s how the whole package works together that makes it work so well.
I’m not saying the iPhone 6 Plus is the solution for others, just that it’s working extremely well for me. Some will no doubt get benefits from other phones, and that’s great. Others may find toting a tablet necessary, as I did in the past. Everyone should use what works well for them. That’s what I’m doing.