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The iPhone July 13, 2007

Posted by gordonwatts in computers, life.

IMAGE_005It is everywhere. While waiting in the airport (another posting) I saw constant adds for it. I am here in Glasgow, Scotland now, and I can’t escape it. Jim got one (I should have known he would get one). And while I was in a bar my cell phone buzzed with a message from my Dad: “Activated my iPhone!” My Dad has a cooler toy than I! How did that happen!?!?

At any rate, I’ve had some time to play with Jim’s. it feels like it is half baked — or perhaps like a google application roll out. That is, as it has come out of the oven it isn’t all that impressive, but wait until you see what they add to it. As Jim points out in this brilliant picture, there still isn’t one phone/pda/whatever that gets it right. 

First off — the user interface that you are faced with on the home screen is brilliant. No one has gotten it as right as this. I’ve used all sorts of cell phones up to now and nothing is as well thought out as this. But I also realized, in the end, that part of the reason is that the number of apps, etc., on this phone are fairly limited, so having a single screen of 16 buttons work (what you see is what you get — there aren’t more things hidden).

They have nailed the camera and image viewing interface. All other phone manufactures should hurry up and copy Apple on this one (not that patents will allow them to do this). Hands down the best.

The other thing I think they got right that everyone will soon copy: may the LCD display as big as friggn’ possible. That makes a huge difference on the phone. Going back to using my phone after using the iPhone for 10 minutes made me wince a bit.

I played a bit with the other apps. We didn’t turn on the network here in Glasgow — Cingular’s international roaming rates are criminally high. I have to say that the way the phone asked you to go online was also great (something I really wish my phone did: I’ve got to take it on faith some program isn’t accessing the internet behind my back and charging me crazy rates). It is clear that Apple has paid attention to lots of small details.

But I was underwelmed by the other programs. The email on my Windows Mobile phone is much better organized: the user interface isn’t nearly as slick, but it is much more functional. There is no to-do task list (or perhaps I missed it). My Dad claims the data rate is ok (he is in the US) and Jim claims it is ok as well. But watching the performance of a web page loading on my phone with 3G vs with EDGE I’m not so sure. The camera quality is pretty low (I think this is a hardware problem, not a software problem). I didn’t experience any crashes, but the review (see below) talks about a number of them (I wasn’t able to play with the programs they claim crashed below due to the lack of network connection).

In short, this version isn’t for me. I think Apple managed to convince Cingular to allow them to update the Phone’s software at will. This is not something that Microsoft was able to swing. This is a pain. I once found a bug in my older phone, complained to Microsoft. They had a bug fix for me — indeed, it had been out in the wild for a few months. But Cingular had locked the phone down so tight I wasn’t allowed to install the update without violating their terms of service. I really really hope this changes. Then bugs and other feature upgrades could be pushed out to older hardware. Of course, the cell phone companies don’t want to become just a data provider that disappears into the background.

I get back from France in one year. Perhaps by then a new iPhone will be out with 3G and I’ll be able to install some other interesting programs on it. Then I will be seriously tempted to get it. If they can get all the app developers for the iPhone to follow their interface that phone will just sing.

This endgadget review, pointed out in a comment to my previous iPhone post by redbeanjon, is a great read and seems to hit its ups and downs is about right.



1. chip - July 13, 2007

Dude. And it’s running unix.

2. gordonwatts - July 15, 2007


3. Terry Watts - July 24, 2007

I’ve used an old Treo 270 for several years before this switch to the iPhone, and the biggest missing feature for me is the global search. The Treo would search address book, calendar (including to-dos), and memo text files in one command. The iPhone does not even have an individual search in each app. Have to look for web based apps – ugh. L,D.

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