Confessions of a “Microsoft-Guy” turned to iPhone – Part II

Well, it’s been almost 4 months using my iPhone, and a number of folks, amused by my last post on the iPhone, have asked me to do a follow up to my post.  So, quickly, here all my latest thoughts:

I still enjoy freaking people out, when asked if I like my iPhone by saying, “I hate it.”  They only ask because they want to tell me how much they love theirs so I amuse myself by freaking them out.  My answer is always the same: “I hate it.”  They freak out and then I come clean and tell them, “Honestly, it is a “love-hate” relationship.”  I do like the iPhone and i will continue to use it for my 6 month self commitment…at least.  But, still, at least once a day i want to cast it into the sea, cussing at it; flipping it off as it sinks to the bottom of the ocean. 

What is most amusing to me about this whole experience is the “mac-people” who i talk to about it.  We all know how brilliant Apple is as a marketing machine.  We used to say that about Microsoft in the Nineties.  But, Apple seems to have all their legions of iLovers in a spell of hypnotized denial.  As if iPhone is the perfect telephone.  It is not.  Unfortunately the perfect telephone does not exist…and may never get invented…see below for my definition of the perfect telephone.

All the previous points i have made are still relevant (some omitted; some repeated and slightly edited below) with a few more additions and updates.  So here we go…

The Bad:

  • I upgraded to the 3.0 OS because my 14 year old told me, “You have to; it’s so much better.” and “It’s a totally simple upgrade”.  I am a firm believer in latest and greatest, but the upgrade was neither simple nor intuitive.  I am used to struggling with an upgrade on the MSFT platform.  I was surprised it was a bad experience on the Apple side.  Grandma Huckaby could not have figured it out.  I call that the Grandma Huckaby Litmus Test.
  • MMS messaging as a new feature?  Please.  And AT&T cannot even support it yet?!  What a black eye that is.  And when we finally do get it, the camera in my iPhone is still awful.  Client / Server software (like Getfugu) is going to have to overcome this weakness.
  • The Keyboard is still just awful – even with some landscape functionality where the keys are actually larger.  I have come to accept that this is the one giant handicap you have to accept if you want to use the iPhone.  it’s ultimately going to be the clincher for someone like me who has to read and respond to 300 emails a day.  It just pales in functionality to a phone (blackberry or windows mobile) with a real keyboard.  i appreciate that it “learns”, but sometimes it learns wrong when you try to go fast and it does not learn fast enough. 
  • Now that the 3.0 upgrade had landscape functionality, why don’t all apps go “landscape”?  Do i really have to pay an 8th grader at Valley Middle School in Carlsbad, CA ten dollars to hack my iPhone to get logical functionality?  My god, that is so broken. 
  • The battery life is awful.  absolutely unacceptable.  i don’t talk on the cell phone a lot, but i do have a few conversations every day.  it is unacceptable that i cannot get a full day of use on a single charge.  This problem is not unique to the iPhone, but it sure is exacerbated on it.  I have said in front of audiences large and small over the last many years all over the world: “the genius that finally invents a legitimate battery technology for small devices is going to be mega-rich and worthy of a Nobel peace prize.”
  • the management of Contacts is bad.  I’m sure if works great for my teenagers because they have under 100.  but, I’m old.  I have thousands of contacts.  Navigating is ridiculous.  On the Microsoft side of the world we love to bitch about Outlook.  Maybe we have it better than we thought…
  • Some of the dragging gestures are nasty.  I guess I’m spoiled by the Microsoft Surface.  I guess Windows 7 touch is bringing me back to reality, but simple things like the guesture to delte a text message on the iPhone can be very frustrating.

The Good:

  • All you apple bigots are still right.  It’s UI is magnificent.  It’s usability is awesome.  Even an old guy like me can use most of it’s functionality to the fullest capabilities immediately.  It is so intuitive. 
  • The app store is brilliant from both the angles of technology and usability.  i just can’t understand why we don’t have this on the microsoft platform.  .NET is dramatically better than objective C in terms of power and time to market.  everyone knows this.   it just doesn’t make sense that we don’t have this on the .NET side of the world.  What apple has virally done on the app store is nothing short of magical.  Flick Fishing is the greatest software application ever built.  It’s a shame we cannot legally run .NET on the iPhone. I want Silverlight Mobile for iPhone and I want it now.
  • The Safari browser on the iPhone is great…maybe because IE on windows mobile is so bad.  it’s not perfect, but having a “real” browser on a mobile device almost makes me feel spoiled i have been suffering for so long.
  • The GPS device is good.  And I’m a GPS fanatic.  I have owned over 15 in my lifetime.  It locks on quickly and it’s resolution is great.  I’m sure we’ll see much better applications leveraging it than the Google maps app coming soon.
  • Copy and Paste.  Should have been in there in the beginning, but I’m happy it’s there now.  i am also very pleased in the design decision not to do a drag and drop thing.  That would be frustrating.
  • Setting up my exchange account to retrieve email was shocking: so easy i am pissed.  how in the world did apple figure out how to retrieve and install the local security certificate when it takes a painstaking 20 minutes of configuration on a windows mobile device?!  i just don’t get it. 
  • The email reading app is disappointing.  for someone who manages his calendar on exchange, not being able to accept a meeting or having any meeting functionality is a real drag.  now i understand why i get the blank stare when i ask “apple people” to send me an “s+”… :)
  • I have confirmed all the technical reports that iPods just don’t measure up (from a pure sound quality perspective) as a music playing device with a simple test.  when the iPhone first came out it got hammered pretty hard by the device people on sound quality.  well, i am no audiophile, but i did do a simple test.  i ripped the same song from a CD to both the Zune and the iPhone.  i played the same short samplings in random spots in the song over and over on the same stereo from both devices and it was shockingly clear how much better the Zune sounded.  i read that the creative labs device sounds better than the Zune.
  • And while on music that proprietary thing Apple has going cannot last.  My behavior when buying a CD is now ripping it from iTunes and then doing the exact same thing for Zune; effectively giving me two copies of the music on my computer.  Why do i have to store the music on my computer anyway?
  • Just like windows mobile is better at being a pocket pc than a telephone, the iPhone is better at being an iTouch than it is at being a phone.  you still get all the weaknesses of cellular communications and AT&T handicap.
  • In my last post on the iPhone i bitched about constantly putting people on hold with my face when talking on the phone.  It turns out that the case i bought from AT&T was the problem!  my case covered the all important sensor that senses when you are talking on the phone and it is up against your face!   can you believe AT&T had that case as a supported accessory that is designed so poorly?!  My 14 year old did some nice surgery with an exacto knife to fix the problem.  i can now talk on the phone without my face pushing buttons.
  • it is fragile.  some one like me should not own one.  Today my iphone has trout blood and dirt all over it because i took it fly fishing with me yesterday.  I broke the odds on me to break the thing; which was 10-1 it wouldn’t last a month with me.  i do have a “protective sheath” for it, but i am not at all confident in it.  Which leads me to my biggest complaint.  No real company will insure the device.  AT&T won’t insure it.  InterKnowlogy’s insurance provider will not insure it.  my home insurance company, USAA will not insure it.  and my buddy Hugh, who works for State Farm, will not insure it. and there is a reason why: they break.

I Was Wrong

Yep.  I was wrong.  i predicted a few years back that no developer would build applications for free just because it’s cool to do so.  I predicted that the iPhone application ecosystem would fail because the tools, plumbing and platform are so bad for the iPhone.  And what happened?  Developers are building iPhone apps for free.  Some are building them for wild profits too.  Shoot I was asked last week by a company if InterKnowlogy would build them an iPhone app….and we probably will.  I think this is a great testament to the persona and psyche of the software developer. 

Just wait until the Windows Mobile team gets their act together with the Silverlight folks….another prediction…sigh…. 

The Right Phone for Me

The “right phone” for me does not exist.  It is an iPhone, with a blackberry/windows mobile device keyboard; it’s battery life is 2 months and charges wirelessly (automatically off the energy of my wife’s anger at me).  it has the ability to run .NET apps (legally) and my choice to pick a legitimate service provider who covers the earth in high bandwidth with 100% coverage (which also does not exist).  It does not break when you drop it or when it is thrown in disgust; it is waterproof and floats.  It has a 8 megapixel camera with a 10x zoom. It has a thriving ecosystem of applications.

God, i wish the Windows Mobile team would get it’s act together.  Didn’t I already say that?  :)

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