I have an iPhone … sort of

Friday was a slow day at Critical Mass, being the “day after” the Town Hall. These sorts of Fridays are often plagued with low productivity, lots of bleary eyes and headaches, lots of greasy food, and more than a few “Oh god, I did that?” realisations.
But every now and then, there’s a little surprise. Like when Clay called and told me to come and take possession of the iPhone. Yes, that iPhone.
Yes, we’re based in Calgary, meaning that there’s no AT&T network, so we can’t use the phone part. But it is a Wi-Fi device, and given that it is going to change the face of wireless devices in North America, we need to be ready for the changes to come.
So the company decided to get a couple of units for the Canadian offices (the Chicago office has a number of owners). They’re not fully functional, but at least they give us some of the abilities we need to be working with.
But it’s not perfect — it is a first version, after all. There are a lot of really great things about it, such as:

  • Wonderfully simple and playful interface
  • Speedy and responsive, unlike my Java-based LG phone
  • Smart typing library that guesses what you were trying to type if you make a spelling mistake
  • Easy to set up wireless connections
  • Email is fast and simple to use
  • The Google Maps interface is what should be online — wow!
  • The Weather app would be exceedingly useful if we could use it away from Wi-Fi
  • I wish the iTunes interface was on my Video iPod — it’s very slick

All that said, I have a few beefs:

  • Insufficient text field control
    • Rich text interface doesn’t allow typing (such as the one in WordPress)
    • Cannot position the cursor exactly, even with uber-precise finger movement
  • If you support GMail as one of the defaults, make sure you handle its quirks
    • GMail has “discussions”, where it ties replies to the emails sent and received; these are identified as new emails
    • When I delete an email, I wanted it deleted from the GMail account, too
  • Keyboard a bit dodgy
    • It works, but you need to be very specific where you put your fingers
    • How about simple punctuation (period, comma) on the first keyboard panel, instead of on the second
  • Camera resolution might be 2.0 megapixels, but the quality is terrible
  • Battery life seems almost random
    • I’ve heard that it can get great battery life, but so far I’m not seeing it, having recharged it twice now
    • Even when it’s turned off at night, the battery seems to drop like a rock
  • No cut and paste
  • Can’t access files for upload
    • If I can take pictures with the camera, I’d like to be able to upload them without having to connect by cable to another computer
  • JavaScript parser in Safari horridly slow
  • Allow for variants on language libraries — I like the “u” in “colour”, thank you

Do I still want one? Darn right I do! But perhaps not until a version or two later. Until then, I get to play with this one. And yes, if you’re wondering, I did write this with the iPhone.
But it wasn’t easy…

5 thoughts on “I have an iPhone … sort of”

  1. “Allow for variants on language libraries – I like the “u” in “colour”, thank you”
    Don’t forget, you’re not suppose to have it in Canada yet.
    And you forgot one, NO FLASH!

  2. Not supposed to, no. But at the same time, there’s nothing stopping Canucks from going to Apple Stores in the States, buying one, and bringing it back. You just can’t use it on AT&T (since it doesn’t exist up here).
    And I can live without the Flash. 😛

  3. Rumor that floated by me this morning. I don’t know how credible this rumour is but the source works for Rogers AT&T. Apparently all the newtwork upgrades are happening right now and Rogers is supposed to be selling iPhones in Septemeber.

  4. Interesting… I’d be curious to know how accurate this is. Mostly because Roger’s existing EDGE network sucks rotten eggs. That’s one of two major barriers to entry (Apple won’t release it up here if the experience blows).
    The other one is the data rate pricing, which Rogers must lower if there’s to be any serious adoption. And if they do… well, I might just buy the damned thing. 😉

  5. Two notes to reply to my beefs listed above:

    • You can have the iPhone delete email from Gmail. It’s just not a default setting, and you have to dive into the email account settings to turn it on. Parents, gets your kids to help you with this.
    • Battery life is probably not bad once you figure out some key pieces of information. Failure to follow these will have your battery drained at night:
      1. Just clicking the power button does not turn it off. It just sleeps it, and power is still used. You need to hold the power button for five seconds and then move the slider to actually turn the unit off.
      2. Turn the Airplane Mode on to disable the phone and Wi-Fi connection.

    Although I should point out that while the battery settings do help, the reality is that under regular use, you’ll still want a shortcut button to enable/disable Wi-Fi, as you’ll be doing this a lot to prevent the battery from dying quickly.

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