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Review: iPhone - The Missing Manual

iphonemissingmanual.jpgThe iPhone comes inside of a 3x6 box and ships only with a small folding flyer that outlines the highlights of the phone. While the iPhone is exceptionally easy and intuitive to learn, I felt like I wanted more details about the inner workings of this incredible device. Enter iPhone: The Missing Manual, by all-star writer David Pogue. Pogue made record timing writing this little masterpiece, since he didn't have an iPhone until a couple of weeks before the launch date of the iPhone on June 29th. Coming in at just under 300 pages, it covers everything you could possibly want to know about activating and using your brand new device of envy.

Part of the appeal of the book is the small and sleek design. Each page is printed in high quality and full vibrant colors. I am liking this trend of scaling down the books and making them much more readable.

What's Inside?

The book starts out with a full guided tour taking you through all of the ins and outs of the iPhone. From the icons on the screen, buttons on the side, and the speaker on the bottom. Pogue leaves no stone unturned in describing this fantastic device. All of the basics for phone use are immediately covered, even the answer of why Apple partnered itself with AT&T, as opposed to other network providers. Even those of us who know the answer still scratch our head saying 'Why Apple... why?'. Some of the other topics include Music & Video, Photos and Camera, Getting Online, The Web, Maps, and Email. Most of the iPhone is so intuitive you can figure it out simply by playing with it. However, it is still a first gen product, and to me, some of the applications seem lacking, especially Mail. Luckily this book covers some tips and tricks to get around the missing functions. For example, the iPhone lacks a spam filtering ability, so Pogue outlines how to sign up for a free Gmail account and use that as an intermediary between your inbox and your iPhone. WIth Gmail's incredible SPAM filtering, this solution works great. Equally important is the Syncing section. Since the iPhone is cross-platform with Macs and PCs, there are a lot of options and things that can go wrong with Syncing your iPhone to your computer. Luckily Pogue is experienced with both platforms, and steps you through the whole process of syncing with your favorite Mail & Calendar programs for the Mac and Windows. This can be extremely helpful to PC Users. Those of us comfortable with the Mac will feel right at home with the iPhone & iTunes. The interface is quite familiar and for the most part, Mac users only utilize a couple of options when it comes to Calendars and Mail. PC users however may have a few more caveats and problems, so the Missing Manual is especially helpful here. If you are interested in a preview of the book, you can view a sneak preview of a chapter, outlining David Pogue's Favorite iPhone Tricks.

My only complaint with the book was the way it was laid out. The 'Settings' and 'Setup and Signup' chapters were placed towards the end of the book. I would've like to have seen them closer to the front, next to the Guided Tour section. When you buy the iPhone, you can't do anything with it (except make emergency calls) until you activate it and set it up with iTunes. Having this portion placed at the rear of the book makes them seem out of order.

Conclusion: Phone: The Missing Manual is another Pogue masterpiece. His writing style is clear and concise and makes reading the book a joy. It doesn't feel like a technical manual, not at all. In fact, it's quite the opposite. His prose makes you want to follow along with all of his tutorials and learn more about what the iPhone can do. You get the added bonus of his quick, but sometimes dry wit. If you have any money left after springing for a $599 phone, spend another $20 and get this book. Highly recommended.