Using iPhone as an alarm clock

Q: Is there an application for the newest iPhone (v2.21) that will turn the iPod into an alarm clock. I would like to awake a playlist. Also, is there an application that will turn the iPhone into a video camera?

– David

A: Unfortunately, both of these functions would live exclusively in the realm of unofficial applications at this time, which would require you to “jailbreak” your iPhone in order to use.

The issue with video recording applications is based simply on the fact that the iPhone itself does not provide an interface for video recording, and official third-party applications are not permitted to access the iPhone hardware directly in a manner that would allow them to provide this capability.

The problem with the alarm clock application is two-fold: Firstly, official iPhone applications cannot run in the background using the Software Development Kit that Apple provides. This means that you would need to leave the Alarm clock application running before you go to bed in order for it to sound in the morning. More importantly, however, third-party applications are not presently permitted to access the iPod media library, so you would be unable to awaken to a selected playlist using a third-party app. While there are a number of third-party alarm clock applications available on the iTunes App Store, none of them will presently allow you to wake to a playlist due to this restriction.

Note that according to Apple’s recent announcement, the iPhone 3.0 OS being released this summer will allow third-party applications to access your iPod content, and it is likely that once this is released some third-party alarm clock applications will be updated to take advantage of this new capability. Note that the restriction on background applications will apparently remain in place in the new iPhone OS, but this is easily worked around with an alarm clock application that wakes you up in the morning, as you can simply leave it running the night before.

Note that some third-party iPhone alarm clocks do provide wake-to-playlist support. Most notable among these is the iHome iP9 (iLounge rating: A-), which provides the ability to wake to either a standard beeping noise, normal iPod playback, or a custom playlist. To use the custom playlist feature, you simply create a playlist named “iHome” on your iPhone and the iP9 will start playing back whatever is in that playlist when the alarm goes off.

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