Category: Tools

Five things I love and hate about the iPhone

As the sheer volume of iPhone articles, posts, videos and hacks rises to epic proportions, threatening to displace cute baby pictures from their strangehold of the premier position atop the Internet, I thought I’d toss my hat into the ring on the side of the humble iPhone and give the cute widdle guy some badly needed press. Plus I don’t have any babies. That may have been a factor.

I’ve had a few days to stroke it’s sleek glass surface now and the bad news is that it’s not all gorgeously rendered graphics and zippy interfaces. Here are my shortlists:

I hate

  1. The SMS implementation. Although iChat is a superb IM application, the same bubble loving engineers and designers that created it needed to cut back on the backslapping and spend some time using SMS on other smartphones before deciding to shove SMS into iChat clothing. Major gripe – you cannot send an SMS to multiple recipients. More to follow.
  2. No way to forward contact details. This is retarded. Surely I should be able to quickly SMS contact details to someone? No? Ok. How about email? No? Ok. Fine. You win. I’ll just email them from Quicksilver. Gah!
  3. Camera mostly sucks. Ok. Maybe it doesn’t. But taking non-blurry pictures with it is a heroic task, involving coordination between as many as twenty major muscle groups, your hand, your eye, the subject of the picture and of course the position of the iPhone. On the plus side, it does take pictures relatively quickly.
  4. No cut and paste. I know this one has been done to death in the blogs, but lack of cut and paste functionality is a killer. On a related note, without the ability to forward SMSes, this means you’ll have to retype coordination messages multiple times. Or just use email.
  5. No customizable ringtones. C’mon. Seriously. If ATT or Apple tries to start selling @#$!@ DRMed ringtones for this puppy, I will personally fund an Estonian hacker to make me a ringtone app. Come on. It’s an iPod + phone. What else am I going to do with my music? I’d rather wake up to Desert Search for the Techno Allah by Mr Bungle than that crappy Alarm klaxon anyday.

I love

  1. SMS messages are grouped by person/conversation rather than by most recent. Awesome.
  2. Speed. Say what you like you about Apple, but the designers and engineers working on the iPod line realized one thing – that a zippy interface is better. How? Well, by shaving precious milliseconds off the time you have to wait for a screen to jump to the next one or by creating some type of eye candy to fool you into thinking it’s actually doing something (love those cube transitions), your enjoyment and appreciation of the interface will be magnified 10-fold. iPhone apps are rendered swiftly and fluidly (for the most part) and the interface remains extremely responsive. Except when it crashes. See #3.
  3. Crashes. I know what you’re saying. I should have put this up into the section where I rant about all the stupid minor crap that I dislike. Not so. The iPhone crash is a thing of beauty. There are a few types of crashes.

    (a) The Innocent-Until-Proven-Guilty Crash – you’ll be doing something like reading mail or playing with Safari and suddenly you find yourself on the home screen. Wha? What the hell happened? The iPhone acts like nothing has really happened, and will refuse to acknowledge this crash. Ever.
    (b) The Ok-You-Got-Me Crash – total freeze. The interface locks up and refuses to respond to any kind of stimulus or mild pleading. The only way out of this one is to hold the lock button and the home button for about 8 seconds until that beautiful black screen with a silver Apple logo appears.
    (c) The Stuttering Crash – temporary freeze. Occasionally the phone will return to a locked state for no apparent reason. Don’t be fooled. There was a reason. This was no glitch in the matrix. Agent Smith is not after you. Agent Jobs may be.

    Finally, the reason I like the way the iPhone crashes so much is the elegant interface that Apple provides for error reporting, uploading crash logs through iTunes when the phone docks with the computer. Bravo. Pay attention Nokia, SonyEricsson and Samsung.

  4. Spelling correction. When I first started using the iPhone’s mock QWERTY keyboard (please can we have more layouts!) – I was a terrible typer. Slow, inefficient and distrustful of the predictive text, it took me a substantial length of time to type even simple sentences without speeelink errrors. That all changed when I relaxed and learned to love the corrections. Surprisingly, they’re spot on most of the time. And when they aren’t, it’s actually quite easy to change things.
  5. Video. I never thought I was that excited about mobile Youtube until I started watching Dancing Robot videos on my iPhone. Anywhere. This is huge.

Your iPhone is now ready for use… as a paperweight.

Dear Apple,

Thanks for making the iPhone and providing zillions of them at launch day. I walked into one of your fine stores and bought one within 5 minutes. No lines. I missed the cheering employees tho. Anyway, you guys rock. Way to go. I’ll get back to you about the features later.


Dear ATT,

Could you screw up the launch of a phone any more? I don’t think so, but if anybody could do it, I feel confident that you can. I’m a simple guy, so the way I see things is like this:

1. You are a telecommunications company. This is your primary business.
2. You provide cell phone services to about 60 million people on a daily basis. You have been doing this for a number of years.
3. You are suddenly unable to deal with providing services for the few thousand suckers (including moi) who, against all odds, were able to purchase an iPhone on launch day.
4. You do not post any announcements, updates or news about the situation on your web site or to users.
5. You disconnect my old number without allowing me to activate my new one.
6. Your suggestion that I call your help desk using my now disconnected phone is pointless and infuriating.

In short, I’m going to go with Walt on this one. The device’s major drawback [is]: “the cellphone network it uses.”. Good luck holding on to your exclusive arrangement with Apple. I know I’ll “switch” as soon as another carrier comes into the picture.



iPhone Porn and the “google” neologism juggernaut

iPhone Pr0n

As is my habit, I woke up this morning and reached for whatever new iPhone pr0n was available. Luckily for me, Apple had just thrown up a lengthy (20 mins) new “documentary”/feature propaganda (20 mins) featuring a friendly Apple designer/model/actor.

One thing that stood out for me, in between high contrast video of the phone merrily multi-tasking it’s way on to being the ultimate device ever, was the Google search demo. The guy, let’s call him Bob, opens up the iPhone and initiates a search by typing a few phrases into Safari’s search field, then hitting the “google” button. Very interesting.

Subversion, reappropriation and modification of key terms and phrases are some of the hallmarks of the current US administration’s communications and the previous two Republican campaigns and as they’ve proved, he who controls the language, controls the universe [sorry Frank Herbert!].

It seems awkward to talk about yahooing for something, but googling has become synonymous with searching for – and finding – information and that may be the subtle difference that means everything, especially as searching and finding heads mobile. This is all pure speculation, but I wonder if the iPhone will change the action button to “yahoo” if you switch to using their search? Time will tell. I’ll let you know on Friday.