Rob Knight

10 days with the iPhone

August 13, 2007

So I’ve now had an iPhone for 10 days. Time for a report. At this point, I’m not sure I have anything to say that hasn’t been said, but I’ll give it whirl anyway.

The Loves

For starters, it is simply amazing to have a phone that actually functions the way I expect it to. Most of what I want to do is less than two finger taps away and I don’t have to hunt for functions I need. We all know that Apple really puts time and effort into user interface design and they have delivered a rich interface on this phone.

I’ve noticed that I’m less likely to get on my laptop when I’m at home to do simple things like checking email or reading RSS feeds. The iPhone is very capable and easy to use for doing these things quickly. And although I thought it would leave me chained to my email, The luxury of having email in my pocket at any moment has calmed my propensity to check it. It’s right there if I need it, so I only check it when I need it. And increasingly that is not too often. It has meant that I’m sending more text messages. Because it’s so easy!

I cannot stress enough how handy it is having a full web browser on your phone. On my previous phone, I struggled to use the mobile web browser because it looked like an ad-supported, poorly written piece of shareware from 1997. This is a major reason why I think there aren’t more people (at least amongst people I know) using the mobile web. No one is going to use it for anything more than sports scores when it looks as bad as it does on your standard flip phone. For those not lucky enough to have the mobile version of the Opera web browser, the mobile web just doesn’t cut it yet. Here’s hoping that the entrance of a full web browser on a mobile device helps change that.

It plays with my mac. Holy crap, it plays nice with my mac! My last phone played with my mac (sync’d my contacts, and I could pull movies and pictures off it and onto my mac). But it didn’t play nice (didn’t sync calendars, restricted what I could do over bluetooth, couldn’t add my own music to it without taking it apart). I have complete control over what goes on my iPhone and what stays off. It’s a simple question, but seriously, shouldn’t I be able to do what I want with my phone? The iPhone just works and that is infinitely more handy than a device with arbitrary restrictions placed on it.

But it isn’t perfect

I need copy and paste! This sentiment has been echoed elsewhere and I couldn’t agree more. One of the first things I tried to do with my iPhone was copy and paste my 63 character wireless network password from an email into the password field of my phone. Surprise surprise, I couldn’t. After valiantly attempting to keep track of and type the password in manually, I had to give up and just set a shorter password on my wireless network. John Gruber makes a good point (see link above) about why it wasn’t in there when the iPhone was released, but I’d like to see it added soon.

Photo of the iPhone front screen

The calendar app isn’t as useful as I’d hoped. I have several calendars with very different types of events listed on each. In iCal on my mac, the calendars are color-coded, so it is easy to see the different events and what calendar they belong to. On the iPhone, all events are listed in black. In the month view, a single black dot shows a day when I have an event listed. I’d like to see event colors added to the iPhone’s calendar app. I’m still not sure the problem isn’t just my resistance to calendaring in general. But I’d like to see colors in the calendar listing before deciding that I’m just a dumb ass when it comes to effective calendaring.

I want to take videos with my iPhone. It is such a bummer that I can’t take video with this phone. I love taking video with my still camera, but don’t carry that with me everywhere the way I do my phone. It seems like a feature Apple may have had to leave out in order to get the phone out by June 30 as promised, so I’m willing to play along. But I would be quite disappointed if they didn’t add this feature in a software update and instead waited for v2.0 of the iPhone to add video support. Most new phones today have a video camera, so it seems strange that it was left off the iPhone.

I’m embarrassed to pull it out in public. This is no fault of the phone, just the hype. I have a hard time pulling it out of my pocket in public because I don’t want anyone to notice that I have it. For me, it is a functional device with great features that make certain aspects of my life far easier than before. It isn’t a status symbol or sign of the devil (even if Karl Rove uses one). Once the hype wears off, the weird feeling when pulling it out of my pocket will go away.

None of these things are deal breakers for me. They’re just minor gripes. I really couldn’t complain too much about the phone. It has performed flawlessly for me, including the virtual keyboard, which some people have complained about. I’m a very happy iPhone owner. After using it for 10 days, what is amazing to me is that Apple absolutely delivered on the impossible hype that surrounded the iPhone.