As further evidence that one of the best reasons to attend Macworld Expo is to meet like-minded nerds, this year I had the pleasure getting to know the iFixit guys.
Kyle Wiens (twitter) can take just about anything apart and put it back together. In addition to being a really smart guy, Kyle is an e-waste activist and has some really useful information on the subject at his site. Finally, Kyle’s iPad home screen wallpaper is perhaps the most appropriate (based on what Kyle does for a living) of any home screen poster yet. So Kyle, show us your home screen.
What is your favorite app?
Well, I’m obligated to say that’s my own app: iFixit. Repair manuals were meant to be mobile, and the iPad is far and away the best way to use a repair manual. You perform a task, swipe to the next step, do the next step, swipe next. It’s seamless and crazy functional. The final user experience turned out much better than I had hoped it would. Our technicians use it all the time in the office.
I also love Maps. I didn’t have data access when I was traveling throughout Africa researching e-waste, and I got lost constantly. Being able to get last-minute directions frees me from having to pre-plan every last detail of my life. I love the flexibility.
Which app is your guilty pleasure?
Instapaper. Whenever I get a spare moment, I dive into articles I should have read earlier but didn’t have time.
What is the app you are still missing?
I’d love to get a useful Google Voice app.
I definitely miss iFixit on my phone. Our iPad app is so incredibly useful, and I’d definitely like to have that view of our repair guides on the go. We’re almost done with our iPhone version, which I’m really excited about.
How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?
It depends on the day. When I’m working, I don’t use them much at all. When I travel, I use my phone constantly. I listen to podcasts on the way to work and Runkeeper when I run in the evenings.
I actually use my iPad rarely—less than I use my Kindle. I mostly use it to follow a repair guide when I’m fixing something or to check out interesting new apps. But when I do use it, it’s incredible. In fact, I used it last night to fix the ignition switch in my Honda Accord. There’s no way I would have been able to use my laptop for that.
I’d like to use the iPad more over time, but I haven’t found anything yet that makes it useful in my day-to-day coding and design work.
I’m so much more productive on my MacBook Pro than my iPad that I really reserve it for consuming content. Or jamming in Garage Band.
What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?
The iPod app’s double-speed podcast playback. If it didn’t do that, I’d have to get a custom-purpose device that did.
If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?
I would kill iTunes. It’s the worst product Apple’s ever made, and it needs to be scrapped and rewritten from scratch. Here’s an example. I listen to BBC World Service every morning. Here’s my process: Open iTunes. Plug in my phone. Wait 10-15 seconds for iTunes to un-freeze and start syncing. Click podcasts, click refresh. Wait for the phone to sync and the podcasts to download. Then click sync again, because it doesn’t always sync podcasts that were downloading while it was syncing the first time. Wait for the sync to finish, unplug and go. It’s a ridiculous waste of time. Why can’t my phone download new podcasts over the air?
I’m sure Apple knows iTunes sucks, but replacing it with a cloud architecture is hard. I’m optimistic they’ll figure it out eventually, but I don’t think the solution will come anytime soon.
Anything else you’d like to share?
The iPad revolutionizes repair. Performing a repair with the iPad is a phenomenal experience. It really feels like the future. Follow a step. Swipe to the next step. Tap to zoom in on a photo, and pinch to zoom to see the itty-bitty details of an individual screw head. Tap to close, swipe for the next step. The iPad completely disappears, and the photo manual is all that you experience. This really is a quantum leap forward in making online knowledge seamlessly useful. Unlike the repair manuals of yore, iFixit on iPad gets better when you’re not using it—because thousands of people all over the world are constantly editing and making our manuals better.