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Always On: How the iPhone Unlocked the Anything-Anytime-Anywhere Future--and Locked Us In First Edition Edition

12 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0306819605
ISBN-10: 0306819600
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Editorial Reviews


Kirkus Reviews, 5/1/11
“A swift, engaging analysis of how the iPhone is changing the way technology is integrating contemporary society…A relevant, refreshingly charismatic nod to personal technology, its innovators and, of course, everything Apple.”

Publishers Weekly, 5/9/11
“Tech guru Chen's columns on Apple for have gained him a wide readership, primarily for the same qualities he displays here: an in-depth knowledge of the history of Apple and a wide-angle view of the impact that Apple has made across the globe.”

New York Journal of Books Review, 6/29/11
“[Always On] is a page-turner for technophiles, but weaves enough humanity into the topic to keep most readers engaged.”

From the Back Cover

"An intriguing study into the future at our fingertips."
--Hamish Robertson, Vanity Fair Digital Design Editor
"Brian X. Chen's book is a triumph. A cogent collection of case studies with barbed tenterhooks dipped in paralytic neurotoxins that monopolized my feeble, shallow, too-bendy, hither-and-thither spazzoid attention span for way longer than..."
--Mary H.K. Choi, Senior Editor at MTV Style, Marvel Comics writer, New York Times contributor
"Brian Chen took his eyes off his smartphone, and began taking note of how these devices have transformed professional life. With several years of experience covering mobile computing, Chen offers a fresh perspective on how a simple 9-to-5 workday is fast becoming passé, thanks to our demanding, constantly-buzzing companions."
--Mark Milian, Tech Writer
"Always On is a really good primer on the fast-changing world of smartphones. It's comprehensive, well-written and well-reported. I learned a ton, and I write about this stuff myself every day."
--Leander Kahney, author of Inside Steve's Brain, editor of

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; First Edition edition (June 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306819600
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306819605
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,751,188 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Throughout his career as a professional writer and editor, Brian X. Chen has been recognized for pushing the envelope with aggressive news reporting and sharp social commentary. To wit: a diverse writing repertoire that includes covering Apple and Microsoft as a technology reporter at and a former position as associate editor at Macworld.

A new media zealot, Brian enjoys experimenting with cutting-edge web tools to report the news. In August 2008, he led an interactive global study to investigate the iPhone 3G's network problems. The story was wildly successful, attracting 4,000 participants around the world who collectively helped conclude that the iPhone's connection problems were related to AT&T's overloaded 3G network rather than the handset's hardware. The study earned nominations for awards from the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) and the Online News Association (ONA).

Brian recently completed a book about the always-connected mobile future titled Always On, which published June 7, 2011.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Alan L on November 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This ended up being a quick read, but far less substantive than I had hoped. In summary - we now have access to a huge amount of data, and we pay for that data by giving away our personal information. I was hoping for a more academic discussion on what always on really means and can mean for the quality of life we experience, but also what this means for the rest of the world and people with varying levels of access to data. In the book, 'we' almost certainly means middle class American in virtually every usage, leaving out implications for the majority of the people in the world.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By R. Roark on May 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I appreciate the author's in-depth and personal take on the impact the iPhone has had on the changing world of connection and innovation. Brian has created a fun read that's indicative of what mobile technology holds for our future. Every chapter holds nuggets of information and personal stories that leave you thinking, "Wow, that's pretty cool." I highly recommend picking this up if you're curious about real stories and studies, written in a almost-conversational and playful tone, about the possibilities you carry around in your pocket everyday.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Ralph L Gootee 3rd on May 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Though I've followed tech news closely both before and after apple released the "iPhone", I still found this book to be an excellent complement to my existing knowledge. The author introduces the book with an amusing anecdote then continues with insightful remarks about how we got to this generation of digital smartphones.

Having worked in the mobile industry, I am aware that there were smartphones *before* the iPhone; it's just that they were sub-par. None of them approached the usability, design, and beauty that the iPhone had. Things are different now, but other cellphone manufacturers are still trying to catch up to apple.

Even if you're not an apple fanboy, "Always On" is a great read in figuring out what made the iPhone so successful. Even if you *hate* the iPhone, it's still interesting to figure out why it's so successful. The author also address the (somewhat flawed imho) distribution model that apple has chosen for distributing apps, which I feel makes it's a somewhat objective read (considering it's a book about the iphone).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Book Glutton TOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Anything-Anytime-Anywhere" is the cry sounded in this book surrounding the iPhone & Apps introduction, which seems to be more of an invasion. The book is a lively commentary on the history of how the iPhone combined the iPad, the cell phone and "always on" Internet access into one device--which even Steve Jobs did not recognize in terms of its real potential--and the effect it has had on our world--the good and the bad--and a look at what this means for the future. The author, Brian Chen, lumps Jobs in with all who were "fooled" by the introduction of the iPhone. This is because it was months later that the Apps Store was introduced as a separate announcement. The Apps changed the whole nature of what the iPhone with its unique and newborn "touchscreen" truly is, especially because the Apps Store accumulated over 400,000 of them by 2011. Chen explains, "By offering apps that filled every need, Apple retroactively delivered one device that can potentially replace any piece of hardware you could ever want to buy."

Aside from the benefits of such a device and its capabilities, these apps were also laden with extensive user data and personal info, which began to show themselves as real privacy issues should iPhones land in the hands of others. We have seen this has come up already in the news.

The book speaks also of the shakeup in the industry that followed the iPhone introduction and the effect it had on other key players like Google and Microsoft. It gives us a look too at where the future will most likely be going.

It is an easy, informative read on how the iPhone has changed and will continue to change the way we live. If the past is any indication of how fast things are changing, this book will not remain current for very long.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Rom on September 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you own an iSmartphone, the ideas in the book are nothing new:

Yes, smartphones are bringing the web closer with more focused information.
Yes, smartphones are occupying our attention with a growing collection of media apps.
Yes, smarphones are doing truly useful things normal websites can't do.
Yes, the smartphone era is here.

Brian Chen calmly glosses over how we got to this marvel but spends little wondering about the implications. How does the smartphone era relate to the previous era of big computers and mice interacting with websites? What does it mean for the internet to host millions of websites while, as of 2011, there are 500,00+ apps, many with proprietary data? What about the possibility of decentralized networks springing up between users? Are we seeing the real birth of the curated web or is this a fragmentation into gaming devices with GPSs and cameras?

Thankfully, the book is short so it feels like you just read a great Wired magazine cover-to-cover.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Krista on September 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book provides an interesting look at how technology is shaping various aspects of our lives. I found it to be enjoyable, despite the fact that I'm not a technology guru or working in that field. The author presents many relevant anecdotes and studies, as well as investigates some thought-provoking issues. My only complaint is that the author seems to make some broad generalizations from specific situations or assumptions. Some of his predictions about the future of society/benefit of technology are not backed up by data or research - they seem to be a mixture of an opinion and educated guess. Of course there is nothing wrong with that; the issue is that it seems as if the author presents these assumptions as fact. Overall though, it was an enjoyable read.
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