The ‘iPhone Field Guide’

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The iPhone Field Guide by David Sparks (available from the iBook Store) makes an excellent last-minute gift for Mother’s Day. It’s what I’m giving my Mom. (Shhh… don’t tell her!)

(Image from

Whether you just bought your first iPhone, have owned every version of the iPhone since day one, or just want to help an iPhone novice family member out, this iBook about the iPhone fits the bill.

What is the iPhone Field Guide?

The author, David Sparks, is a tech blogger at, a podcaster (The Mac Power Users Podcast), an author, and a lawyer. Several years ago he started writing a series of books he calls the MacSparky Field Guides, which are rich media technology books written to take full advantage of all the bells and whistles that the iBooks publishing platform offers. The inspiration for his MacSparky Field Guides was Dr. Henry Jones’ “grail diary” from Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade. His latest book is all about the iPhone and what makes this iBook so unique is that he specifically designed the format of the book so that it can easily be read (embedded screencast videos and all) right from the iPhone. The “front matter” section of the book explains how best to read his iBook on the iPhone, which is to enable the “scrolling view” option.

There have been so many books written about the iPhone over the years. So why write a book about all the features of the iPhone now? I think David says it best in the front matter of his book:

“Since the iPhone was released, whole industries have emerged while others have fallen. The iPhone changed the way we communicate with each other, get our work done, and settle bar bets. The iPhone even changed the way we get car rides. Fundamentally, people communicate with each other differently now than they ever have before, and it all started with the iPhone.”

At a Minimum

Even if you are the most experienced iPhone owner there are a few sections of this book that I highly suggest you resist the urge of skimming through or skipping over because you already think you know all there is to know. We all get set in our ways about certain things and before we know it we have missed out on an opportunity for improvement. Some of the most basic iPhone settings can be the ones that you might benefit the most by tweaking just a bit. So I recommend you read the following sections of the iPhone Field Guide and think about some of the example settings that are presented in these sections. I think you will be surprised just how many improvements you can make on your iPhone settings just by reading these sections:

  • Control Center
  • Today View
  • Notifications
  • Home Screen Strategy
Almost everyone still has a thing or two they can learn about Control Center on the iPhone. (Image from


I’ve purchased most of the iBooks that David Sparks has written over the years because he is a geek like me and writes about topics I like. But this book is different. When David announced this book, my first thought was that this was a book in his series I really didn’t need. After all, I’m a “tech guy” and I already know everything I need to know about my iPhone. I was wrong. The iPhone has evolved into such a powerful and at times very complicated piece of computing hardware. It is easy to get stuck in a rut and just use the iPhone in the same way you always have without taking advantage of new features… and that was the biggest thing I got out of reading the iPhone Field Guide.

The other thing that makes this book stand out from his previous books is how approachable it is by just about everyone. If you own an iPhone (regardless of how you use it) you will learn things by reading this book that will allow you to make even better use of your iPhone. That is why I am buying it for my Mother for Mother’s Day and that is why I wanted to write about this book on GeekDad. A lot of us carry around a very powerful computer with us everywhere we go, so why not learn how to make better use of that power? David does a great job of touching on all the major aspects of the iPhone (there are 44 sections to the book) but augments the book with over 2 hours of short video tutorials and avoids going too deep on any one topic. If you or anyone you know has ever said “I don’t even begin to scratch the surface of what the iPhone can do” then this book is for you.

The iPhone Field Guide is available for $19.99 now on the iBooks Store.

Disclaimer: I was NOT given a copy of the iPhone Field Guide for this review (in fact I bought the book twice myself), but I was a guest on Episode #228 of the Mac Power Users podcast a few years back.

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