iPhone Motorcycle Riding – part two, Application functions

In the last article I started the conversation about my use of the iPhone in Motorcycling. In this article I want to follow up the conversation on the use of the iPhone, focusing on the applications and the practical use of the overall phone. To start off I have to get a little technical so bear with me.

Image of iPhone ScreenThe iPhone Touch screen

The iPhone uses a technology called capacitive touch. This means that an electric charge from the iPhone to your finger creates a circuit to the screen, activates the application; that’s the simplistic view, however, if you’re a geek this page will help you understand it more. http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/iphone2.htm

Now, for those not familiar with iPhones, they have applications that deliver services, for example,

  • the phone feature is an application,
  • the internet browser is an application (Safari),
  • the music player (iPod) is an application,
  • there’s an application for calculator, a clock, etc. (Get the picture).

The GPS is an application we will talk about later.

Sounds like a computer; word, excel, outlook, now you’re getting the picture, the iPhone is in fact a small Apple computer!

Now compared to other devices that use touch screens, they rely on pressure on the screen to activate their functions, e.g. GPS devices.

The Pros and Cons of the iPhone capacitive touch screen for Motorcycling

Pros: Nice to use, no pressure on the device in terms of wear and tear

Cons: No good for motorcycling due to gloves being an insulator for the capacitive touch, however there are solutions to possibly overcome this issue.

How to use iPhone applications while Motorcycle Riding

The only way to use an iPhone for Motorcycling is using one primary application at a time. This means before you ride off, you have to activate the application, put your glove on and ride off and let the application do its work while you’re riding.

A good example of this is would be activating the iPod prior to riding off so you can listen to music while you are riding.

Secondary Applications or Background Applications?

To understand the strength of the iPhone is that it can run multiple applications mainly in this primary and secondary type paradigm. The reason Apple chooses to have one primary application open at a time is to conserve battery power. As an example, say it had the ability to have the calculator running, the iPod running and the Internet running all the same time, the Central Processing Unit (CPU) would be working doubly hard thus decreasing your battery life.

To get by this (and to explain it in layman’s terms) they use a kind of a secondary application or background application concept. Lets look at a scenario.

I’m listening to Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles on my iPhone using the iPod, my wife, Annette, calls me to pick up some Taco shells on the way home from work for dinner.

  • The iPhone automatically dims the music and sends the iPod application to background,
  • The telephone application becomes the primary application and rings,
  • I answer the call, and respond by saying “I’ll try not to forget to purchase the Taco shells” and end the conversation,
  • Annette hangs up, the telephone application closes, and the iPod becomes the primary application and continues where I left off at “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”

iPhone apps image

Does that make sense? Good.

So that’s an example of how the Primary and Secondary application concept works. Technically, I am not 100% sure but it may in fact turn off the secondary application until a message is sent to activate it again.

So looking at this concept, the primary Applications I use are the iPod and my GPS Application.

In my next couple of articles I will look different applications I use for Motorcycle Riding and give you an idea how they works.

Powering the iPhone using the Motorcycle electrical system

With all this talk of Applications, the question is how long will the iPhone battery last, especially if a phone call comes in while you are riding? Not long.

If you are running a GPS Application it won’t take long to drain your iPhone battery. If you are on a long distance ride this will be a problem.

The only way to overcome this challenge is to provide external power to the iPhone via an adaptor. Here’s what I use.

  • An external 12volt caravan quality cigarette lighter adaptor. This is wired into the electrical system via an inline fuse. This also has a cap on it to seal off the adaptor from the weather when it is not being used.
  • A Belkin iPhone power adaptor that plugs into a Cigarette Lighter. The one that I use has a white light in it that is useful for telling you when it is plugged in and receiving power.

Link to the iPhone 12 volt adaptor
iPhone 12 volt adaptor

Link to iPhone Belkin adaptor
iPhone Belkin adaptor

I then wrap the cable around the RAM Mount adaptor to lessen the cable length.

This allows me to power the iPhone off the Motorcycle electrical system and also charge the iPhone battery at the same time.

I hope this gives you an idea of how the apps work and how to power the iPhone.



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