iPhone Hacks Review

I’m a big fan of O’Reilly. They publish great, nerdy tech books for people like you and me (no, not you, Mom). So when my name was pulled in a draw to win an O’Reilly book, I was elated. O’Reilly has a deal with Cocoaheads groups around the world, it seems, and our Toronto chapter has just joined the program.

The book at issue, as you have no doubt deduced from the headline, is iPhone Hacks, by David Jurick, Adam & Damien Stolarz. This book is a part of their Hacks series, connected with the Make Magazine line of down-and-dirty, break-out-the-soldering-iron, old-skool-1337-h@X0rz school of thought.

Of course, I’m totally cool with that school of thought.

These books are interesting. It actually puts me in mind of this blog post by Paul Graham, which talks about this epidemic of lists. Authors everywhere appear to suffer from the conceit that in-depth content can come from a list of related items. For the author, it’s easy to bang together the “top 5 pickup lines”, or “25 ways to market your business”. And people like to read them too, because the cognitive load is quite low. After all, there’s no overarching thesis, or drawn-out argument to follow.

It’s like fast food for the brain.

So, does iPhone Hacks live up to its billing as a nerdy carton of delicious poutine? Definitely. After all, with a book-length list, there can be no missing at least some opportunity to learn something new. The topics are categorized by use case: Messaging, Media, Games, Networking, Development, and more. And while some topics are fairly banal (“Copy and Paste Between Applications”? Duh!), others are downright righteous (“Automatically Translate Your Voicemails to Text”).

The complete table of contents is right here.

Many of the hacks will require you to jailbreak your iPhone (Hack #1.04). Whether you choose to do that or not will determine how useful this book can be to you. While I had no trouble doing this to enable tethering, the current Official Tethering World that we live in today has meant that I can live without jailbreaking my phone.

And let’s face it, while hacking is great fun, the iPhone has become such an integral part of my personal and business life, that I fear the possible impact of something going terribly wrong. Hacking is, and will aways be, a double-edged sword.

I’ll say this: iPhone Hacks provides a great deal of fun ways to get the most out of your iPhone, if you have the guts to pursue it.  Insofar as this book has something for everyone, you’ll most certainly find something that turns you on.