Monday, August 4, 2008

on the iPhone 2.0.

No, I do not ever for any reason stand in ridiculously long lines for over-hyped products. But I am, in fact, the reluctant owner of a first gen iPhone and, thus, have been playing with the 2.0 update since it hit the streets. And I have nothing but complaints.

First of all, when I was first theorizing (incorrectly, obviously) about the update, I had something completely different in mind than did the folks at Apple. I mean, besides the obvious need for picture messaging in something that bills itself as the next generation of mobile device I guess I was picturing something more along the lines of a hardware update. This is partially my fault for not really being nerd-smart in this way, but I've certainly been doing my part to rectify that problem since then. However, there are some basic things that I think could be made a lot better with some simple software re-ups. And, yes, before anyone says so, I know that what this really means is that I should be further educating myself and just write these programs myself. I just don't have the time or desire to do so yet...I'd rather just complain.

Here, then, a list:

A better calendar! This is the sort of thing that really should be intuitive to the sort of people that I expect to be populating the Apple establishment. When I plug a contact's birthday into their contact information, it should auto-sync over to the Calendar (which should obviously be synced with my computer as well) and should automatically set some sort of reminder (via the alarm? the calendar itself?) when that day hits. This is something that my Sidekick didn't have, but that I've heard the Blackberry, or at least the Treo, does, and I would fully expect the so-called geniuses over in Cupertino to have thought about.

Better notes! This is a long-standing complaint, but it's valid. The notes section of an iPhone (ya know, a pretty important function for anyone who's using this as an all-in-one device) don't update via the syncing through iTunes. What kind of crap is that? People gaga over the iPhone and Apple in general always talk about how, "it just works." Thus far, less than half of my Apple devices have "just work"ed. And, to be honest, other than the MacBook and the first iPod I got, none of them "just work"ed all that well. The always-backed-up (isn't that cool?) aspect of the iPhone may be intriguing to someone who's never owned a smart phone before, but my Sidekick was entirely backed up on the web, via T-Mobile's servers. Not only that, but it backed up everything on the phone - notes, e-mail, contacts...everything. How novel.

Better Safari! The concept of having the "real web" on a phone was a cool one when the iPhone first debuted. But beyond that, the browser could use some tweaks. Seriously. Why can't it load a page when I'm not looking at that page? Because Apple thinks Edge (okay, they've gone over to G3 now, but I don't have that...) is that fast? Don't be ridiculous! We're multi-taskers if we've bought an iPhone! Let the pages load while I click the home button and go into my e-mail via another button and then click the home button, check my texts, then click the home button, and, finally, come back to check on the (hopefully) fully loaded page. (Can you sense another back hand coming up?) And speaking of, Jesus, I know the one-button cool-look is all part of the Apple sensibility, but you know what I really liked about my Sidekick? The ability to hit different button combinations and jump instantly to a sub-menu without having to browse through the home screen. What a waste of time. Also, I really thought that someone in the 2.0 update would have come up with a skin that we could put on top of the Safari browser to make it do cool things. One cool thing in particular had me thinking that if no one else did it, I might (and I still might): how about a shake-to-refresh function? Surely that wouldn't be that hard to code, right? Oh right, it probably would be, because we need access to the hardware in order to make such a change. Yet another reason I'm going to dump my AT&T contract at first chance and go with an Android device.

Finally, the 2.0 specific App Store. It's very cool. I've found some fun stuff. But for the most part (okay, for the entire part) it's all software. And, again, I acknowledge that this was my own fault: I thought it would be on a higher level. But insofar as the software, let's talk about that: Super Monkey Ball is cool. Sure. But why would I pay ten dollars for that when Cube Runner is available for free and does essentially the same thing? (Which is show off the acceleromator. Good for them.) Pandora kicks ass, but the music identifiers that I've found have all failed all the tests that I've put them to. And some have been as basic as holding it up to my car's speakers when a pop tune is on the radio. Boo. 2.0 fails just as much, if not more for the vaunted promise, as 1.0. I'm psyched that I was able to distinguish my Work and Personal accounts and that my APS mail is now being pushed to my iPhone, but guess what? I'd worked around that silly bunch of nonsense by having my Gmail account fetch the APS mail and then just feed it all to the iPhone. So Google even beat Apple at it's own game, as long as people were smart enough to realize that Google wouldn't let them down the way Apple had.

This is all in addition to the long list of already-acknowledged ridiculous things about the iPhone: no copy and paste, the recessed headphones (in 1.0 only), the lack of flash, the high prices of the plan, etc. I really don't want to come across like a whiny upper class heights kid. I love the fact that I was able to afford an iPhone. I love the fact that it's out there, encouraging other phone makers to push the envelope on what they could have and should have been doing all along. And I love the fact that, once again, Apple did it all their way. However, in this area, they're wrong. They need to open up. Which is why I'll be voting for Android as soon as it drops. I'm a fan of being in charge of my own stuff. I don't need someone telling me, "You're not as smart as me, so I'm going to control all of this." That's downright un-American.

No comments: