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A more objective look at iPhone (part 2: Things the iPhone does well)

This is part two in the series, part one can be found here.

As I mentioned in the last post, I don’t want this to sound like a complete Apple bash of the iPhone. So here are some thoughts about the good side of the iPhone, going through by component.

First and foremost, it really does just work. I’m not sure if a user manual came with the iPhone (and I can’t be arsed to get up and look in the box :p) but I certainly haven’t needed one yet.
As you’d expect and have no doubt seen already, the Home page or main menu lets you access anything on the iPhone with little more than one touch.

Setup and Config – I had absolutely no problems with activation. Unboxed, connected, log in to iTMS, done. It literally took less than 10 minutes. None of this having to wait 24hrs before you can recieve calls, straight away.
WiFi config is simple too, if you are broadcasting your network name (or iPhone discovers a new network), it provides you a list clearly indicating the name and security status of the network. If no key is required you just press that network and it does it’s thing. If you have to specify a key, so be it. I haven’t found any problems with it at all.
iPod – Just to get this out of the way quickly, you get exactly what you expect. Its just an iPod. The use of Cover Flow is really cool and beats the scroll wheel hands down. There’s not much to say about it tbh, what were you expecting!
iTMS – Whilst this only works when you are connected to WiFi, it’s a cool addition. Easy to search, buy and download. It all sync’s up with iTunes when you connect to the Mac too. One thing I found however, if a track you buy is available as a DRM free (iTunes Plus) version, although it prompts you with “This will be downloaded in iTunes Plus format”, it won’t download to the phone. I had to repurchase it through iTunes. I’m not sure if it was a one off (Slaves To Gravity – Meantime) or not as I haven’t bought anything else in that format.
The Top Tens and Featured lists make for good reading when you are bored, standing in line in Starbucks. That actually reminds me, i’m yet to see anything of the rumoured free downloads from a Starbucks yet. Was that just a rumour or just Stateside?
Widgets – To me, Stocks doesn’t seem to fit with the UK market. Whilst i’ve got shares in a few companies here and there, I don’t invest enough to *need* to know the share price OTF. I can’t think of many people I know that do. Of course, I could be well off the mark but it seems to me to be a bit of a fluff addition to the iPhone. Weather and Clock are a lot more relevant and useful, even though a few main cities in the UK don’t appear in the list – Reading, PA is listed but not the one in Berkshire. I was nicely surprised to find Portsmouth in there though.
Notes – I had a whole bunch of notes on my old phone; addresses, grocery lists, films I want to rent… You know, the kind of thing you think about for a minute then promptly forget until the next day/week.. The lack of Cut & Paste is a really ball ache here. You can’t even highlight a number and dial it. That said, it’s still useful, I just wish it would sync up with the Mac.
iCal/Contacts – In much the same way as the iPod functions, these work just great.
Mail/Safari
– Ignoring (again) the lack of Cut & Paste as well as the inability to save images to the iPhone, these work exactly as i’d expect. Cookies are used in Safari so you don’t have to continually enter your credentials to access sites. Also the number of mainstream sites with dedicated iPhone interfaces is increasing daily – Facebook, BBC News, BBC Podcasts (although I don’t seem to be able to download the actual Podcasts!!).
Photos – The screen quality is excellent, my pictures from iPhoto look really great on the iPhone. The accelerometer part is more than just a gimmick here, it really does give a nice kind of ‘this is how it should be’ feel. Much better than my old phone – open the menu, joystick down to picture, open it, wait 5, landscape, wait 5.
The screen is obviously of a wonderful size and ratio. Even pictures taken with the (subpar) onboard camera look good at this resolution.
Phone – Visual Voicemail, at first it seemed a bit gimmicky but it’s actually very useful. No more having to sit through crap to hear if there is anything worth listening to. Other than that, the sound quality is fine both ways. The nice sync between the phone and mac contacts is also well thought (but obvious also).
SMS
– Whilst i’ve bashed quite a bit about the missing bits of SMS on the iPhone, the conversation/chat style of displaying is really quite good. No more wondering WTF the reply means, no more having to back out of a message to the sent items then back to the message.

So after all that, do I enjoy using the iPhone? Yes. Now i’m getting used to it and now i’m actually comparing its usage against my previous phone (SE k800i), there are a lot of plus points about it. In-fact there are a lot more plus points than negatives. Taking it a step further, the majority of the negatives *could* be resolved in a firmware update, or even by 3rd party applications (assuming the SDK isn’t sandboxed off too much). As I find more and more sites and applications that are tailored for the iPhone, the usefulness of the device increases and will continue to do so.

[tags]iPhone, Apple, Mac, iPhoto, iTunes, iTMS[/tags]

One Comment

  1. […] caught this post on the BBC News site, which pretty much echoes (almost exactly ) my comments a few weeks […]

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