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Dec 6, 2008

iPhone thoughts - Week #2

Prisoner_sm

Few weeks ago I finally broke down and purchased an iPhone.

(I felt so bad about it that I even wrote an entire post describing What happens when a WinMo addict breaks his vow and gets an iPhone?)

The first week was amazing. I was captivated by the capacitive screen, mesmerized by the smooth finger gestures, dazzled by the amazing user interface, and became completely addicted to the App Store games.

My first iPhone review (iPhone thoughts - week #1) was mainly positive; I guess I was dazzled so much by entertaining side of the iPhone that I forgot my real needs from a smartphone.

But things have changed now.

For a few days, I feel like I'm trapped inside this golden cage, giving me so much fun but at the same time - absolutely no freedom to change my home screen, modify my theme, redefine my working tools - customize my phone.

prisoner copy

I too became an Apple prisoner, just like 'Number Six' trapped inside a wonderful village (springboard), controlled by Apple (the new Number 2) - the only authority, which controls the village and forces all the village people (applications) to look and feel exactly like they are instructed to.

No customizations are allowed, competing applications are being thrown away from the village, and most of all - there's no easy jailbreaking from the village!

And what if someone tries to escape? (i.e. try using Cydia or Installer)

Then I guess the big white Apple ball will capture him and bring him back to the village (try upgrading the OS and you will see...) - beaten and humiliated.

rover copy

For a WinMo user like me, not being able to fully customize my phone is a problem. I found some "dirty" ways to do some of it, of course, but it always feels like I'm doing something forbidden and that sooner or later I will wake up and ask:

"Where am I?"
"In the Village."
"What do you want?"
"Information."
"Whose side are you on?"
"That would be telling…. We want information. Information! INFORMATION!"
"You won't get it."
"By hook or by crook, we will."
"Who are you?"
"The new Number Two."
"Who is Number One?"
"You are Number Six."
"I am not a number — I am a free man!"
(Laughter from Number Two.)

Here's some other problems I found in my eye-candy iPhone:

Too little (one...) hardware buttons:

OK, I get it, you want a minimalistic design, I'm cool with that. But how about at least a green 'Send' button and something to 'End' things up with? I really miss those two magic buttons.

Too hard to start a call:

With Windows Mobile or Blackberry, I can start typing the name of the contact and after 1-2 letters I get the contact I want to call.

With the iPhone I must first open it, slide to unlock, click the phone icon, go to favorites and search the screen to locate the right person. If the contact is not in my favorites list then I must use this awkward scroll panel in the right to find the first letter and then scroll to find the contact... It's a disaster, nothing less.

Ironically, the company that brags about usability managed to create a phone where the worst part is making a call.

And getting back to the 'Send' button - I often need to call the same person over and over. I like being able to click on the 'Send' button twice in order to re-make the call. With the iPhone this operation takes far too many clicks.

prisonerphone 

A mobile device from the 60's. Had a built-in 'Send' button...

Stability:

Everybody is laughing about Microsoft's crashing applications, with the funny message explaining that "a problem occurred and the window must be closed..." but what about Apple?

Well, iPhone applications have the tendency to simply quit whenever they feel like... How come?!

I say: if you really want to crash, go ahead, but how about some sort of a notification? something like: "I am about to crash now, there's nothing you can do about it, but please get ready. Oh, and by the way - would you like to send us the scenario so that we can do absolutely nothing with it?"

The stability problem is very annoying especially when using the Safari browser. I wrote some good things about it, I still like it, but it crashes too many times!

Hey Apple, how about using some try { } catch { } blocks in your code? Ever heard of that concept?

Speed:

I don't think the performance is bad. But while I was writing this post, my wife, a well known games addict, was playing with my iPhone (I don't like it when she does that... but please don't tell her) and I heard her say: "it's not the fastest thing around... not to say it's pretty slow, don't you think?". Well, I don't think the performance is so bad but there are few things that take too long.

1. Opening the keyboard (when focusing a text box) takes almost 2 seconds. Not a lot, but enough to feel like you need to "wait" for the keyboard to raise up. Annoying.

2. Camera - not only I cannot assign a hardware button to the camera (no buttons - remember?) - opening the camera (from the moment I click on the shortcut) takes few long seconds - sometimes up to 8 seconds - which makes capturing special moments - a serious challenge...

3. Games & Apps - sometimes it takes them too long to open. You don't feel it at first as the screen always displays something (instead of WinMo's hourglass) - but after a while it becomes annoying.

PIM:

I'm still looking for an application that will give me back my Outlook notes and tasks, as well as a decent way to view and edit Office documents. Not being able to synchronize the phone with my Outlook tasks makes me want to get back to my old WinMo phone.

Landscape typing:

Here's a classic example why Windows Mobile is still better than iPhone:

Apple invented a great concept of switching between portrait and landscape modes automatically - which makes it much easier to type and browse the Internet. The only problem is - you can't do that with the email application! Brrrrr.

Microsoft, on the other hand, did not think of this brilliant concept, but the devices manufacturer did, and with devices like the Samsung Omnia - you get an automatic rotation for all the applications. Ha!

See?

OK, before finishing this week's review - I want to say that I still find the iPhone a fascinating device. It's a university for user interface and usability in a lot of aspects, and I haven't finished investigating it. Stay tuned with the next posts in my series "iPhone Thoughts".

I will finish this post with a moment from the cult series: The Prisoner" - Enjoy!

 

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6 comments:

amit said...

Ha ha ha!! Sorry but I couldn't help, a little evil smile was on my face as I was reading through this post, ha ha ha!!! :D

Gil Bouhnick said...

Ha ha…
I assumed this would be the typical reaction... :-)
But hey - as I said - there are still plenty of cool stuff to do with the iPhone, besides using it as a phone... hmmm...

Anonymous said...

Fantastic!
I just finished reading this post and the first thing I did was to subscribe to this blog.
Keep up the huge work!

Thomas said...

Good read!
Agree with most of the points although I still think iPhone rocks!

Leonick said...

Haha you miss the buttons i want to get rid of :p

i have a camera button, "ie" button (s2u2 now, since some media players dont like when you turn the screen off), volume buttons, joystick, and call and end buttons

i love to have the joysticks as otherwise it would be hard to play a simple game of tetris every know and then, and the other hardware buttons fill a purpose to...

but why should i have end and call?? i can do that on the screen without any problems at all...

Gil Bouhnick said...

Because those buttons are also a shortcut to the phone, for example, you are in your 'Today' screen, clicking the 'Send' button will take you directly to the outgoing calls.
Without it - you need to click on the phone application and look for the outgoing calls

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