Given the rabid popularity of the iPhone I have mixed
feelings about publicly documenting my thoughts on the device, but in a recent discussion I think I came across more
critical of the device than I really intended (that is not to say that I'm not critical
J). While I'd like to blame the devil in me, it's quite
possible that some of my issues with Apple's approach to the larger ecosystem
got me hating. Also, while I will make
comparisons to my other phone (an 8925/Tilt) I don't mean to imply in any way
that it is a perfect device; there are some pretty annoying things about it as
well (mostly around usability).
First the iPhone is an extremely innovative device which
revolutionized the consumer oriented smart phone market. Of course it's easy for me to say that
because there wasn't much of a consumer oriented smart phone market before the
iPhone. Apple is very good at making
things that are simple enough for anyone to use, and that's the real innovation
with the iPhone; but for me that's also the problem. I would rather have a device that does more while
providing the flexibility for me to use the device the way I want; instead of a
simple, one-path solution.
While the hardware is very slick (capacitive touch screen,
pocket friendly design, 480 x 320 res) once you get past the slick UI (deleting
mail is fun) the software experience is inelegant and time consuming often requiring
more interaction then it should. There
aren't any buttons (the only navigational button always returns to the home
screen) or context menus so interaction is gesture based; simple task (like
marking an email unread) require unnecessary navigation across screens (why do
I have to open an email to mark it unread?) - although I could be giving my
iPhone the wrong gesture. Simplicity can
be a good thing; but in this case I think Apple went too far and made simple equal
It makes sense to me that the device is popular with those
who were using a "dumb" phone and don't need/want/miss the full gamut of
features that a smart phone can deliver.
Maybe it's because I approach my phone as a business/convergence instead
of a PMP/convergence device the seemingly blind prostelization of its
superiority by those who should see the glaring inadequacies in the core features
set - like email and multitasking - confuses me.
My primary uses are (in order of frequency):
- web browsing from email links
- video files
- normal web browsing (weather, stock quotes,
information gathering, etc)
- GPS based service (GMM, Live Search)
Once some custom software to the Tilt (Opera, TCMP, etc) of
the features listed above the iPhone really only beats the Tilt for the feature
that is least important to me. At the
same time handing out the most frustrating following-links-from-an-email experience
of any device I have ever used. On the
Tilt I can click a link, then go back to the email client, interact with the message
(click another link, delete it, etc) or other messages while the links are loading
in tabs then switch back to the browser.
Where the iPhone requires me to wait in Safari for each link to render
because only one application can run at a time.
Screen is nice both as a touch screen and a
display for video
Safari is the best mobile browser I've ever used;
gesture based zoom is a really slick feature.
based dialogs to the point where I need a real browser for some sites.
Accelerometer and gyroscope enable some cool
Auto orientation flipping is a nice feature that
often doesn't work the way I expect it to (gets stuck in the wrong orientation
or flips when I move the device to reduce glare).
Word suggestions that auto-fill unless the "X"
Forced to authenticate to the device each time
it exits standby
App Store makes it easy to install applications
from the device but doesn't really solve the "how do I choose between the 50
versions of solitaire problem".
The navigation experience between multiple email
accounts is tedious.
Marking mail as unread requires opening the
No new mail notifications (yes I know it's
possible to remember unread counts per account)
The device tries to pull down new mail each time
I open the account. While that's
generally OK, if there's no signal I get a message indicating that it can't
connect requiring me to dismiss a dialog (why can't it just fail silently; or
better yet if there's no signal don't check for new messages)
Dictionary doesn't learn
Only one word is suggested when typing (setting
Keyboard takes up too much real estate in
Why does Apple need my personal information and
a credit card number to use the App Store to get free applications
App Store is the only legit way to put
applications on the device
Apple's heavy handed / arbitrary policy on
applications in the App Store
Only one PC or Mac can be used to push content
to the device (wtf)
Limited container/codec support
No HSPDA (although I think this is addressed in
- Dialing experience not nearly as good as the HTC dialer (dial by name or number from the same screen)
get me wrong, the iPhone is a good thing for the handheld market place. It brings a compelling feature set to the
general population, and with that compels content providers to think about how
their content (websites, video, music) plays in the mobile space. Most importantly, it convinced MS to stop
sitting on their hands and finally bring some much needed updates the WM