Wednesday, February 11, 2009


1 - The touchscreen is terrific and really worth having just because its so ahead of everything else you've had.  Functionally, i think its true value is a) scrolling pages (say, up and down through your contact list, or a long webpage) and b) replicating a mouse on the web.  Homerun execution for both.
    the squeezing/pnching/zooming "multi-touch" is good stuff, but not as intuitive or useful as you'd think.  the only places i use it are on the web and the maps, and the responses are different or maybe just poor enough to seem different.

Downfall of the touchscreen is that its very sensitive, which causes some 'wtf' moments now and again, but that really starts to be a big deal when it makes it vulnerable to false-dials.  A very common way to dial is this:
- pull up your 'favorites' which you do with a clever double-click of the main button.
- touch a name, which calls them (though the names are kinda small, which makes for more wrong ones than I would have thought)
- they hang up a second before you do, phone call ends.  screen instantly reverts to your 'favorites' page.

then what happens?  as you lower the phone from your ear, your fingers, wrapped around the phone (or maybe you switch hands for some reason), brush across the face and call somebody on that favorite page.  You have no clue you've called them.  the other day i left a 3 minute voicemail of me listening to the radio on somebody's phone because of this.

2 - the maps is great, incorporating most of the Google Maps Cool Stuff.  However as a GPS unit the iPhone is really subpar.  You can, as in google, easily produce directions from where you are (though not instantly), but a major missing piece is that it does not have active navigation (called turn by turn, i guess).  I'm guessing Apple didn't want the headache of claiming to be a true GPS nav system, and have to deal with every ahole who got led down a street that isn't there, etc.
   But not only will it not guide you with "turn left in 200 yards" type directions, it won't even update your directions/trip info as you go.  So if you're zooming up 85 to DC, there's no way to know if you're any closer than the 290 miles you started at without essentially relaunching the whole ap and starting over, which is a long series of inputs, clicks and screens that defy driving.  Put another way, if you'd like to take it jogging to get a decent mileage/avg speed, forget it.  it doesn't track anything, not even as a static route on your map.
   As for directions, it offers you this baffling "step by step" guide which is nothing but a line of text that says "merge onto I-95" and then you have to hit the "next" button - again, ridiculous when driving.
   Put another way, having an iphone "guide" your trip is no different than printing your directions at home.
   I understand there are GPS-specific aps out there with all the features, though I haven't gone after them.
   Major, major disappointment.

3 - If you type a lot, I refuse to believe that even the worst BBerry keyboard isn't better, and I have a specific reason why.  A very cool - in fact, vital - part of the web browser is that you can turn the phone on its side and work/read long-ways.  This allows you to read web pages much easier.  Better still, when you come across a page that needs input, the keyboard appears and you get to type on a long-ways keyboard.  These keys are huge, much bigger than a BBerry and more importantly at least twice as big as the tall-ways keyboard.  On this big keyboard, you can nearly type with a full two hands, and can easily, rapidly and accurately type with thumbs.
   If this long-ways keyboard was the standard configuration, I would draw the line right now and say the iPhone is better than a BBerry.

But, impossibly, it is not.  In the mail ap - where, obvioulsy, you do most of your typing - the ONLY option is the tall, super small and narrow keyboard.  Mail, all parts of it, doesn't rotate.  So you are stuck typing with the small keyboard, which defies thumbs and runs about 70-percent with an index finger hunt and peck.
   This applies as well to the iPhone's TXT app too - long-keyboard only.
   I don't get it - the code is already in the phone to make this happen.  Just active the browser's 'rotate' routine in the Mail and SMS aps, and you double the value of this phone.  Insane, and unlike the GPS thing I can't imagine a single good reason why.

Here is my testament to how bad it is: forget offering me the big, rotated keyboard.  Keep it.  just offer an option that puts the normal PHONE KEYPAD on screen in the tall configuration and lets me type/txt using a 9-button input system of ABC-DEF etc.  Just make it an option - I'm used to it from years of my last phone.  If apple's 'guessing' software is so good, they should be able to help me guess my words as i type on that rather than make guesses based on my wrong inputs on thier horrible tin keyboard.

4 - Having said that, the Mail Ap is WAY better than the any BBerry.  Its simple, intuitive, powerful and easy.  Handles all kinds of media flawlessly.  you can view word, pdf, excel and some others seemlessly.
   Sum:  Flawless platform for recieving emails, serviceable for dashing off quick replies.  perhaps that's where the BB lands, too.

5 - the App store.  Probably the true value.  just about every site worth a crap makes an ap that delivers their content in simple, mobile-ready form.  for instance, you can do facebook on the browser, but the facebook Ap is about 200X easier and better.  But even better are the endless amounts of geek creativity you can come across.  My favorite is "Say Where" which in two touches (a few more if looking outside your current location) lets me speak the name of a place into the phone and then it opens maps with my likely intended location highlighted (ie, "asian restraunt" opens a raliegh-sized map with about 10 places).  That's third party.

google has similiar so you can speak your google searches ("Stormy Daniels GOP images") and it opens as a normal google search page.  Nice.

I don't know what's going to happen with Android.  But Apple is way in front and of the ONE compsci geeks I know here, he's trying to dedicate his life to writing iPhone aps and could give a shit about Android.

6 - Finally, the web.  Its just great.  Just a perfect ap that does everything seemlessly, instinctively and perfectly.  My understanding is that nobody else is close, at least except for maybe the Storm.

THe 3G works fast, its great with wireless nets, and all that.  No complaints at all.

I never looked at the imitators - Storm, Instinct, etc - because i was on ATT and avoided some fees by upgrading/pulling the student card, etc.

if i was coming in cold, I'd see if the others can compete with map features/GPS and have a better keyboard solution.  If everything else was roughly even, I'd definetly consider a phone with a better keyboard solution (longways, fold out, whatever), and if the GPS was more robust it would be a no brainer.


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