Monday, July 2

Joel’s iPhone review

Okay, I’ve had all weekend to play with the phone, and here we go, I’ll go app by app, experience by experience.

At first I was caught in the wave of people whose activation wasn’t going through. From the time I submitted my activation on iTunes, to the time it went through was about 19 hours. 19 EXCRUCIATING hours. Let me tell you, sitting here wanting to play with my phone, and it not working is a pain the butt. But eventually, it started working, synced up, and everything is hunky dory now. Turns out there was a ‘hold’ on my activation by AT&T. Whatever the hell that means. But after a couple tech-support calls, it works now, and I am a happy camper.

Unlocking/Locking -- works by touching the top button, works great.

Home screen -- Exactly how it looks in all the commercials, exactly like the picture I have above, it functions as it should.

Text messaging (SMS) -- Works just fine, formats the chat like iChat, like you have seen. The Keyboard, which I will probably discuss several times this entry, is a bit interesting. As Apple says, “you start typing with one finger to get used to how it operates”, but actually, it’s getting used to you. It’s learning the names and proper nouns and things like that you will be typing. After a couple days of use, you can type with your thumbs. I am at this stage, I can type pretty fast, but I am not up to the speed that I was on while on my blackberry. Apple says you have to learn to trust the auto-correcting feature, and once you do, you work faster. I can see this. Maybe i’ll make another blog entry in a couple days reporting on how fast I am.

Calendar -- It works nicely, has the bubble look for calendar entries much like iCal. The only thing that is lacking in iCal is “Todo’s”. It’s not in a separate application or anything, but it’s kinda helpful to have those. I WANT MY TODO’S APPLE!!

Photos -- It’s a photo browsing app, you can flick from picture to picture from left to right, right to left, use the pinch to enlarge and decrease. Works great, no complaints here. I used the Photos feature to make a picture of my daughter sitting up on the floor my wallpaper. I like the feature of being able to email a photo right from the application, it kind of “minimizes” the photo, then puts it in an email for you to send. It’s kind of hard to describe, but I remember watching the effect on one of the Apple videos.

Camera -- It actually takes some descent photos. Considering it’s 2 megapixel camera, you have to kind of forgive it for any shaking or bad lighting. However, considering the camera on my last phone was a 1.3 megapixel, i can see that. Here’s a picture I took with my camera yesterday.

Youtube -- Not a ‘useful’ feature, but definitely cool to pass the time with if you are bored.

Stocks widget -- I have all my stocks on there, it syncs quickly via Edge or Wifi.

Google Maps -- NICE. The integration with Google Maps is beautiful, Jobs said it was the best Google Maps client ever, and I tend to agree. It’s better then Google’s own implementation, and a hella lot better then the one I had on my blackberry.

Weather -- This is a handy feature, I can have several of them open at the same time, and i can flick left and right to be able to access the weather in whatever areas I set. I set them by hitting the edit button, too easy. Updates quickly via Edge or Wifi.

Clock -- The clock allows me to track the time in several time zones (it syncs via the cell tower), and has Cupertino built in as the default. Also has an Alarm, Stopwatch, and a countdown timer on it as well. The countdown timer has the most satisfying interface, which resembles a DaVinci cryptex
you flick your finger up and down to adjust the time.

Calculator -- It’s a simple +, -, *, /, calculator. Nothing special and nothing scientific.

Notes -- Simple Note pad, the font is sort of informal and rather ‘note-ish’. Kind of satisfying, the only problem is, when it syncs with iTunes it does NOT sync with ‘Stickies’ (The note application), so Notes are not synced anywhere I can see on OSX. One can surmise then that the notes will be synced with the Notes in OSX Leopard’s application.

Settings --This was a section that I was curious about, so I’ll try and cover it in some detail:
1) Airplane Mode, simple slide left or right to turn off all wireless features. Nice.
2) Wi-fi -- You can turn wi-fi on or off, select the access point, and turn the “Ask to join networks” on or off. Now, from what i can tell, iPhone won’t just join some random access point. You have to tell it to do so, but once you do, it will remember that access point for future use. Nice. That way you can just walk into Panera, it grabs and IP and is ready for use.
3) Usage -- All kinds of metrics, usage, standby time, call time, lifetime call time, edge network data sent/received.
4) Sounds -- Vibrate on or off in silent mode, vibrate on or off in ring mode, ring volume, ringtone, and tones for voicemail, text message, mail, sent mail, calendar alerts, lock sounds, and keyboard clicking (which i turned off because it’s rather annoying when typing).
5) Brightness -- You can set it, or let it auto-adjust (on by default).
6) Wallpapers -- You can select from a built in wallpaper, or you can select your own.
7) General --
a) About -- what network you are on, how many songs, videos, photos, total capacity, available capacity, version (1.0), serial number, model number, wifi mac address, bluetooth mac address, imei and iccid numbers, and modem firmware. Finally a legal scroll page which includes the GPL license, and the licenses for bsd along with a shit-ton of other legal stuff from Google, Apple, and your mother.
b) Date and Time -- 24 hour time, set automatically, time zone support, and the ability to select a time zone (by city/state).
c) Auto-Lock -- 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or never minutes.
d) Passcode lock -- (that you would have to type in after you lock/unlock the phone)
e) Network -- VPN and Wi-Fi. VPN supports L2TP and PPTP, as well as proxies.
f) Bluetooth -- ON or OFF, and what devices you are paired to. Apparently supports handsets only.
g) Keyboard -- Auto-Caps, or Enable Caps Lock
h) Reset -- Resets the device (also done by Holding down the Home button and the Sleep/Wake button)

8) Mail -- Allows you to do a bunch of things with mail, setup the accounts, auto-checks, how many recent messages to show, minimum font size and the like.
9) Phone -- Call Forwarding and Call Waiting are found here, as well as the ability to block your phone number.
10) Safari -- Cookies, Cache, etc..
11) iPod -- AudioBook speed, EQ, volume limit
12) Photos -- Repeat, shuffle, and other stuff for slideshows

Phone -- Favorites work well, Recents, Contacts, Keypad, and Visual Voicemail all work excellent like they do in the commercials. The Rubber-banding effect in contacts (well in ANYTHING) really, is nice. It’s like the iPhone is allowing you to scroll off the end, and prove to you yes, there really is nothing there, then brings you back to reality.
Call Quality -- Excellent, the speakerphone isn’t very loud, and I haven’t tested the hold or the conferencing features yet, but generally works great.
Bluetooth headset -- I haven’t tried it with a regular headset yet, but it works great with my car.

Mail -- Again, has a button to sync. (I use IMAP) Works great. Sometimes swiping your finger across an email to delete it is a bit awkward, (doesn’t work everytime, but I think it’s my fault). The Keyboard, as I said before, takes a bit to get used to, but once it’s learning your typing style, it works great. I can now type at full speed wit my thumbs on it. I’ve read some stuff recently about the in-ability to push email to the iPhone. Not true. Yahoo can push email to an iPhone, and I am sure Gmail, and .mac will get it. Blackberry enterprise can’t push but that’s RIM’s fault. ;)

Safari -- Now, I have heard alot of bitching about how slow the Edge network is. In my experience, it’s actually not that bad. It’s not as fast as the wifi, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not as slow as dialup either. I can deal with it. It’s actually faster IMO then my blackberry. My blackberry was painfully slow at webpages. It DOES support Javascript and RSS feeds. Unlike what these tools are saying out there in the press.

iPod -- Enuff said. a visual ipod. It kicks ass.

Things I wish the iPhone had --
Todo’s, already said it.
Removeable battery, even though by the time this one dies it’ll be time to buy a new phone, still though, i wish I could get a new battery, or an extra one for it.
A separate IM application -- I overcame this by setting AOLIM to forward my messages to my mobile when I am not near IM client. Works through SMS, and works just fine. Still though, I would like to have a separate iChat application.

Other than that, I love this thing. It ROCKS. If you are one of the non-believers or one of the people that thinks it’s all hype, then fine, don’t buy one. No skin off my back, I know it kicks serious booty. But I do suggest that you if you are reading an article that just says that the iPhone sucks, check their facts. Email me at the link below and I’ll debunk or approve, I don’t mind. Go to an AT&T store or an Apple store and play with it. You’ll be convinced.

But for those of you are that are looking to reduce the amount of devices and cables they have to carry, and are looking for something to really make their life more organized and simpler, then there you go. Get it.

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