I say AyePhone. Because if your from the North of England, when anyone say iPhone – it always makes think of some Yorkshire Sheep Farmer. Aye… Phone.
I don’t normally blog about consumer based stuff because – well, basically I don’t care too much about it to be honest. Occasionally, you will see me blog about some experience I’ve had mainly so if I have the problem again – I can search my own blog and remember to fix the darn thing. And I figure that others will have the same issue.
Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, Gabrie Van Zanten of GabriesVirtualWorld.com asked me to write about the iPhone and so to keep my little Dutch chums sweet I thought I would blog about my experiences to date. Of course, Gabrie’s request was sometime before the whole signal antenna issue blew up in Apples face.
I think its only right and proper to temper my comments, by giving you some background on the piece of **** phone I had before switching to the iPhone4.
Well, even that’s unfair to the phone. I previously had an IPAQ HP6010 Windows Mobile phone from the pre-Jurassic era. It was state of the art when I got it. It was one of the first touch screen phones with Wifi and GPS receiver, and for some years it functioned (more or less) as serviceable SatNav. I never upgraded the phone because it cost so much once I’d added the TomTom to it – and Vodafone kept on offering me call credit OR an upgrade the phone. I always picked the call credit because I was reasonably happy with the device at the time. Despite its Wifi capabilities I found myself hardly ever browsing the web from home. Most Wifi locations are secured nowadays, and without 3G on the phone it more or less kicked browsing into the long grass.
I first picked up on using a phone as a SatNav – doing this when I was working away a lot in the Netherlands, and saw the guys there were using the IPAQ as SatNav and as phone. So you know the Netherlands has a lot a very tech savvy bunch of people. It’s not surprising that lot of EU based blogs about virtualization are run by our Dutch chums.
Anyway, my dream has always to have an iBrick. One device that did everything (phone, camera, satnav, Mp3 player, Contacts, Diary). The main reason was to cut down the devices I had to carry and decrease the chance of leaving one a plane/bus/train… The IPAQ was close, but not close enough. I didn’t have a camera on it, and the capacity was so piddley I wouldn’t get all my music on it (4857 items, 13.6 days, 26GB according to iToons). Towards the end of its life – it had a large amount of gaffer tape on the back of it to stop the battery/sim cover sliding off, and if it ever lost power it would go nuts making more noise and vibrating than most female sexual aids. If you don’t follow what I mean last week I made this video for my youtube.com channel (MisterRTFM).
To tell you the truth the old IPAQ had become a bit of embarrassment, and at VMworld I was humiliated by my more techsavvy buddies who much brighter and shinier toys than me. I did look into upgrading in January to the iPhone 3GS. But Vodafone berked me about quite a bit, and then proceeded to say that a new phone would be out in June/July anyway. So I thought OK. I will wait until my contact expires and then vote with my feet.
So into this sorry tale entered the iPhone4. I now feel I am thoroughly modern as I can tweet whenever I feel like. Take pictures of my dinner and upload them to Facebook. And so on. Given what’s happened in the last couple of days I feel I have to say something about the iPhone reception. In the UK on our 3G network I’ve not had a problem. In fact I deliberately left Vodafone to Orange because I had such crap experiences of 3G connections with VodaFone compared to 3 and Orange. I once tried a USB internet dongle with Vodafone, and returned it within 14-days. In contrast the 3 internet dongle worked just fine. In the end I sacked that off because I wasn’t being a road-warrior anymore – now I borrow my partners when ever I’m away in the UK to avoid the SHAMELESS RIP OFF WHICH IS WIFI CHARGES IN UK HOTELS. Sorry, I just felt that need capitals.
In the UK our cellular networks grew very quickly (because I live in a piss-ant tiny country of no consequence and an enormous budget deficit), and our 3G network here whilst is far from perfect…. sounds much better the POS that AT&T that my American friends bitch about all day… And I feel that’s where there problem might lie. That if you take a phone with a less than perfect reception capabilities and then plug that into a less perfect 3G network – then what you have as the net result is a lot of (quite rightly in my humble opinion) VERY ANGRY Americans wanting refunds. Take exactly the same phone with less than perfect reception capabilities – and plug it into a better network – what you have is some EU folks going “Gee, I don’t know what the problem is”. The bottom-line for me is I’m keeping my iphone4. BUT, I’m not looking forward to being at this years VMworld US where I thought I’d be able to twitter, take photos and videos and upload them at will. With that said, I wonder whether the data-roaming charges would have made that economic. The iPhone came into its own last week. I was in London, and had the location of my lunch time appointment in the diary. So I selected the address, then I was asked and maps opened, and then I asked directions from my location – within seconds I had a map telling me how to find the restaurant. While I was waiting I checked my email, and did some tweeting.
So if Mr Jobs wants to give me a £15 refund on the Gear4 case I bought to protect my £210 bundle of joy – then who am I turn down his generosity? I never look a gift horse in the mouth. Part of the reason I wanted an iPhone was because in Feb I bought into the whole Apple deal. Yes, I know their products are vastly over-priced and over-rated – but I was basically sick of being a “Windows Man” – and fancied using something totally different. So over night I became “Mac Man”, and watched as the LED Screen and Mighty Mouse burnt a small hole in the bank balance. £50 for a mouse! I mean come on! In fact its become a bit of pass time to search the official Apple Store looking for accessories that are shameless ripoff. My personal favorite Miniot iWood Walnut Case with Dock for iPhone 3G. It retails here in the UK at £99.95 (yes, you read that right) and made me laugh so hard, I almost looked at taking up woodwork, which I haven’t done since I was about 13.
I think its also important that I acknowledge that I live in line of site from a base station. I live in semi-rural location (that’s a euphemism for an old mining town which has seen better days by the way), and some farmer has agreed to have a mast on his land. Incidentally, this is the VERY SAME base station that gave me no-3G connection with the Vodafone dongle, but is fine with Orange and 3. It just goes to show that even in a piss-ant country like the UK, the quality of the 3G network is [ahem...] variable to say the least.
So I like my new phone. And now I have fully capable internet ready phone, and you can expect countless vacuous youtube.com videos of me goofing off, in the hope that conventional media might pick me up and make famous for 15 seconds… However, being the kind of “glass-half-full” Brit that I am, I’m already spotting the iPhones deficiencies from a user-ability perspective. So let me take these in turn.
This seems very much dependent on the applications installed. Say I’m running TweetDeck, and double-click the “Home” button to run something else, and double-click back to TweetDeck, I see TweetDeck loading up all over again, connecting to Twitter and so on and so forth. So multi-tasking whilst there is a bit of movable feast. It seems that not all the Apps you might use actually work with multi-tasking…
2. Compatibility with Existing Stuff
I have a £199 Bose Dock. It works fine with the iPhone but doesn’t charge the device. The same goes for my iPhone connection in the glove compartment of my Mazda MX5. [OK, I know it's a "girls car" but give me a break, please guys...]. Weirdly, my old iPOD classic (160GB) cable variety cable connects just fine, and charges too [I lost the iPOD on a Continental flight to North Carolina]. Go figure. So some of my accessories do and do not charge the iPhone. Does this irk me. Well, yes given a paid so much for them. But I guess that’s technology for you. Apple technology. I’m going to write a seperate blog post for Mazda MX5 drivers, who have the iPhone4 together with the optional iPOD connectivity in the glovey. Talk about obscure blog post or what…!
The other thing I would add about docks and so stuff like it – once you have a cover or case on a iPhone4, then very often I found the connection on the base – won’t sit properly. This means I often have to take the iPhone out of the case – which is the case (if you forgive the pun) with the TomTom Car Kit for the iPhone. With the Bose doc I found I could take out the plastic widget – and use the iPhone without removing its case….
3. Sophistication? Sophistication? Don’t talk to me… about sophistication. I’ve been to Leeds!
OK. That will be a bit of an in-joke for anyone who’s a fan of Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer. But my generally point is that despite the iPhone4′s much vaunted slick UI there are somethings the cause me to scratch my head. Generally, its the way certain applications I use don’t intregrate to the rest of the iPhone4 environment. A good is example is this. You want to take a photo because something catches your eye. So you go into the photo app and take a picture from the same app you would expect to be email, MMS, Facebook or Twitter it. But when you find the image, and go to send it – you only get email, MMS, Assign to Contacts and Use as Wallpaper (this useful option!). You find yourself canceling the menu. Going home, opening up the application – Twitter or Facebook and doing it in that direction. Its minor gripe I know – but it betrays another flaw the lack of hooks for Application Developers – to give you the options to carry out X/Y where you want to.
All in all I feel like I have joined the modern mobile world where one expects to be able to be able to give a running commentary of all your bodily movements – from your hand held device. Given how crap the old phone came from – I think any SmartPhone would have given me. If your a Mac user its sensible choice (so long as your not in the US!) because of the integration with the Mac/iTunes/iPhone. If you not a Mac user, its a bit difficult to work out why you would have an iPhone given the issues there seems to be. The irony is deliberately avoid GEN1 domestic electronics because they tend to be overpriced and poor quality. I generally wait until my phone, computer, tv breaks – before I get something new… I thought by waiting for the iPhone4 I would get a better device…