By Mary Anne Potts; Music "1901" by Phoenix.
Indulge me for a moment and pretend this video features your family, your favorite niece, and your beach escape to the Gulf of Mexico just after the country's worst off-shore oil disaster. Or your weekend of hiking the Presidental Traverse, bouldering Hueco Tanks, trekking below the rim of the Grand Canyon.
A few things are universally desired while on a trip—experiencing a unique part of the world, unplugging from everyday responsibilities, having meaningful experiences with family and friends. These trips are even better if documented just enough to revisit the best moments for years to come. But the documentation part, for most of us, only happens if it is easy and doesn't take away from the primary goals of having fun and relaxing. And if we're being honest, it usually never happens.
I have just departed from my family beach vacation at the Gulf of Mexico just after the historic BP oil spill. With me is this 3.45-minute video, made with the iMovie app ($4.99 in the App Store) on iPhone 4. It strings together the best moments of my trip in hi-res photos and hi-def video set to a great song, "1901" by Phoenix. I assembled the video throughout the trip, usually sitting on the couch or just standing with my sisters. No hours in front of a computer. No complicated editing. No instructions required to use iMovie—it's completely intuitive. I made my final director's tweaks during a before-dawn car ride to the airport. So now, my trip video is on my "done" list, and I'm not even home yet.
I've been using iPhone 4 for a few months now. Though it's in the name, calling this device simply a "phone" seems like calling 007 simply a guy. iPhone 4 is a powerful, visually dynamic, high-quality multimedia machine that goes everywhere. Some might argue, what with the antenna and bumper issues, that the phone is the weakest link (ironically most iPhone users really don't care). But this phone actually reworked the phone-call playing field with FaceTime, the wi-fi-enabled video conferencing application that has made video mobile phone calling relevant—particularly when traveling. During our family vacation, we connected a FaceTime call with my sister's husband, who was stuck coaching tennis in Michigan. We showed him the beach house, the setting sun, and he made his two year old erupt in laughter like only a dad can. It was a window into the vacation in real time—and a pretty good consolation, even if he couldn't sample the speckled-trout ceviche plucked from the Gulf just that morning.
For previous generation iPhone users, this camera is a huge step up. It has a flash. It works wonderfully in low light—it took sharp, colorful pictures at a recent funk-samba show in the West Village. The camera is front- and back-facing. The video is high def. The image quality makes carrying a point-and-shoot camera unnecessary, so that's one less thing to lose, have stolen, and keep charged when you are traveling. Best of all, the photos and video are all georeferrenced on the Places map, marked with pin drops on the map for each set of images. So even though I am not organizing my photos, my "phone" is.