Wednesday, March 12, 2008

My first impressions on the iPhone

So I couldn't resist any longer and eventually bought an iPhone. 16G model of course. I waited for a long time, hoping that Apple would release a new version (with GPR and 3G) but it looks like it's not on their (public) roadmap for anytime soon.

I won't go over the details that everyone already knows (such as how lovely it is, and that "it's been designed and engineered by angles" as I've read on some blog somewhere). It's obviously a great product, like most (if not all) of the Apple products.

But. There are some limitations. So here is what annoys me (in no particular order):

  • Top issue: AT&T sux balls. Whoever is responsible for locking the iPhone on AT&T deserves to burn in hell forever.

  • Very limited tab support in Safari. This is a huge overlook from Apple. It greatly diminishes the comfort of browsing the Web from your iPhone.

  • SMS application does not display the number of characters while you're typing. Generally speaking, the SMS application of the iPhone encourages you to send many SMSes, because SMSes are presented like a chat, so this might be an intentional misfeature (probably requested by the same asshole who chose to lock the iPhone on these crooks called AT&T).

  • Poor calendar support. Honestly, even the Calendar application builtin Windows Mobile 5 is better. Of course the UI and look'n'feel is better in the iPhone, but feature-wise, it's very limited. You can't have more than one calendar in it (iTunes will squash them all in a single calendar when you import multiple calendars in your iPhone). You can't set any option about your calendar (such as setting a default alert 15 minutes before every event you add). The calendar application can only be sync'ed through iTunes (that's also a limitation in Windows Mobile -- not with iTunes of course -- but given the level of connectivity of the iPhone, I'd expect it to be able to read ICS files from an URL).

  • No week view in the Calendar application. That really sucks. Why didn't they just make a lightweight port of iCal?!

  • Geo-positioning on Google maps is too imprecise. This isn't a problem in the iPhone itself, but a shortcoming of the underlying technology (EDGE triangulation). Too bad that the iPhone doesn't have 3G heh :P. Also it's too bad that you can't import your "My Maps" from Google Maps and use them straight in the Maps application of the iPhone.

  • The Weather application should tell the current time and date of the city you're looking at.

  • The Calculator should have a more advanced mode with more maths functions.

  • The style of the Notes are weird and don't stick with the general look'n'feel of the iPhone.

  • There's no "My TODOs" application. You can write Notes, but if you don't keep consulting them, you forget. I'd love to have a "TODO" application where I can just quickly add stuff and always have them reminded to me. Hopefully this kind of app will be quickly available as a 3rd party app thanks to the SDK release.

  • From what I've understood, there's a $100 fee to be able to release iPhone apps with the SDK. This is going to severely limit the number of free apps on the iPhone, which is a real shame. (Note: a friend of mine mentioned that this is a one time fee to be able to sign your apps, so it's not that bad, but still...)

  • Lack of applications. Within the first day, you've seen more or less everything in the iPhone. Once again, let's hope new 3rd party apps will enhance this little gem that the iPhone is.

  • General lack of configurability. The Settings menus are really basic, there could be much more settings to adapt the iPhone to your personal preferences. I'd love to customize the welcome screen (to get rid of the useless iTunes icon for instance).

  • Non-generic landscape mode. Only some apps switch to landscape mode (e.g Safari. The iPod mode uses "cover flow" when in landscape mode, etc.). That sucks, there are many other situations where apps would be more convenient in landscape mode. For instance, a week view in the Calendar application would be hard to fit in straight mode, whereas it would surely be usable in landscape mode. I find this utterly ridiculous that app writers have to handle landscape mode specifically. This should be generic for all iPhone apps (and handled specially on a per-need basis).

  • Sync'ing the iPhone takes waaaaaaay too much time. When I only add a couple of contacts and calendar events, it takes minutes to sync!

  • Edit: no video recording program! OMG how could I not notice that in the first place?! OMFG how could Apple not include that in the Picture app?!

So yeah, that's about it. Admittedly, some concerns are more important than others (AT&T being the top one -- I hate you AT&T! Even more than I hate Comcast!). Overall, I'm rather satisfied with the iPhone. These concerns are all software-related, so there's hope that Apple addresses them one day or another. I was only (very) disappointed by the various shortcomings of the standard apps. This is probably due to the fact that Apple has set the level high and my expectations were also high. Also, I'm probably a power user, so I might want more out of the iPhone than the average customer (I need an SSH client on it FFS! Edit: got one with ZiPhone, see next post). But yeah, for some reason I was expecting Apple to perform better than that.

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