Editor’s Note: Since its launch in 2007, the iPhone has changed the way we use mobile phones, creating a wave of applications and other features that turn these devices into mobile computers. With Apple upgrading its iOS4 software on June 21 (Wired recently compared iOS4 to Google Android’s 2.2), and launching sales of the iPhone 4.0 on June 24, we asked Carol Childress, a self-professed “iPhone junkie,” to share some of the apps she believes can help church leaders.
Time magazine named the iPhone the invention of the year in 2007. Just writing that sentence sounds like ancient history, and it is, in terms of innovations in current technology. I have fond memories of standing, sitting, reading, listening to music, and chatting with others who waited in line with me for the better part of June 29, 2007, to buy my first iPhone.
Despite all the hype at its release, I don’t think Steve Jobs, AT&T, or few others really understood how quickly the iPhone and other smartphones would change the telecommunications industry. The telephone now is almost the least functional feature of my iPhone. Actual telephone usage on all wireless phones is declining. In 2009, for the first time in the United States, the amount of text, e-mail, streaming video, music and other services on smartphones and other mobile devices surpassed the amount of voice data in cell phone calls.
A major reason for this shift is the introduction of third-party applications that convert an iPhone and other smartphones into a computer, a book, a wallet, a movie screen, a photo album, a remote control, or almost anything you can imagine in a single, hand-held device. Because of these apps, my phone has become the single-most indispensable tool I own. The same likely is true for ministry leaders who use smartphones. For leaders who have been reluctant to move to a smartphone, the scope of available apps, new smartphone models, and the increasing competition between carriers may be compelling enough to make the switch.
There are more than 225,000 apps available through the Apple App Store and more than 5 billion apps (that’s with a ‘b’) have been downloaded since it opened in July 2008. Paid apps account for almost three of every four available apps and the average cost of a paid app that is downloaded is $3.04. There are also more than 50,000 Android apps now available (Android apps are available off of their developers’ sites, from Google, Motorola, and a variety of other places).
With so many apps available, and 15,000 new ones submitted weekly to the Apple App Store, it’s hard to know which ones to download, which ones to keep, which ones to use to improve productivity, and which ones to help manage your life and time. Of the more than 250 apps I have downloaded, I have found several to be consistently useful in life and ministry.