Monday, July 20, 2009

The iPhone 3G S: The honeymoon is over

Very short a honeymoon, indeed.

The iPhone 3G S is a very responsive, good looking, cellular phone and the first day I unpacked it, like a boy with his new gift, was happy with it. I spent one entire day studying it, exploring its functionalities, trying out applications in the App Store. And so on.

Now, I'm beginning to discover what I do not like. As a safe harbor statement I'll admit that I hadn't read so much about the iPhone before buying it. It had been an impulsive purchase, rather than a considered choice.

The UI

The UI is Apple's, no doubt. Good looking and it delights the eye of the user with balanced graphical effects that don't tire. The bad point is that sometimes it's not so rapid: I've got to wait for the phone while I'd expect such a phone to wait for me. Try to load a handful of contacts in it. You'd run to the nearest PC to use another program and then run a bulk import.

Background processes

I thought that background processes were the norm, rather than the exception. Most of all when we're speaking about a small mobile computer where you'd run Twitter, Facebook clients alongside mail clients. Maybe Skype. So what's the point in shutting them down as soon as you switch application? Oh yes, there's the push notification service. Well, more or less...

I use GMail both for personal use and for work: my company runs Google Apps. The only choice I'm left with is scheduling a manual sync which is not real time mail.

Skype

Yes, this was known. You cannot make Skype calls when going on 3G. Android does it, if you're interested. And if you want to change the application, you're signed out.

The App Store

Have you got an iTunes account? I didn't. And if you set it up with your iPhone you'll be asked a credit card number and its security code. Yes. No way to circumvent it. Wouldn't it be better asking me the first time I want to buy something? That's why credit cards are there, not for you to store their numbers. At least, in my humble opinion. Moreover: I'm not, but many people is jealous with its card number. I'd consider adding some other payment methods, such as PayPal.

Push? Pull!

Yeah. If the application supports it. Gmail does not, even if supporting IMAP IDLE would be a way to let users have almost real time mail. I think most of us are used to such a mechanism, either with IMAP IDLE-capable IMAP servers or with other protocols, such as Microsoft Exchange. If you want push mail, you can always go with Mobile Me. It's a hundred bucks but you've got an iPhone, haven't you? I read Yahoo! push-mail is also supported but I haven't got an account and I'm not going to switch.

Surprisingly, I haven't either found any application to support IMAP IDLE for GMail on the App Store. Maybe it's a malicious thought but it seems no coincidence to me.

Moreover it's just not only mail. As said, I'd expect to put an iPhone on a table, leave all my apps running and wait for it to signal me that something's coming in. But I can't. Just one application at a time. And sometimes, if the phone goes into standby mode, not even that.

App store glitch. Or: can't I choose my preferred language?

I live in Spain. Then, I bought the iPhone and made a contract with a local telephone provider. Guess which was the phone default language? Spain. So far, so good. Now: I'm not Spanish and maybe I prefer using another language. Let say, English. Easy: go to the preferences tab and choose it. The phone rebooted and (almost) everything switched to the new language. Some now and then the App Store shows up in English, which is ok, but refuses to install the chosen application because my account is only valid in the Spanish App Store (do you remember the credit card?). Just close the application and try again. It works.

But I don't expect such a quirk in such a phone.

GMail default settings

This is a long story. I explained something here. The configuration it's Evolution specific but the concept is the same. When you add an email account in your iPhone you can use a wizard. It has some preset account configurations, one for GMail, and the classic, unlucky Other... as last choice. Bet nobody pushes the Other button! Well, the wizard just asks you a couple of things and your GMail account will be up and running in a matter of minutes.

That's very good. My father would think SMTP is the name of a bus company, if asked, rather than a protocol. But surprise! The wizard settings would have the effect of running your phone (and your mail...) into the infamous GMail's Trash bin quirk mode. Short story: if you use multiple labels on your messages, you could unwillingly lose messages if you move them from a label directory into the trash bin. Why? Well: because that's GMail trash bin semantics: it removes every copy of your message, whichever label it's got, and put it into the trash.

Maybe that's what you want. Maybe not. GMail users (should) know this very well. Google, indeed, warns you about iPhone default settings. Too. Start here and read along.

Flash

Yet another great missing. No JVM. Ok, that was freaky. No SDK. Oh no, it's there (if you pay). No Flash. No. Haven't you got an iPhone client for your preferred website? Don't mind, you've got Safari, the coolest web browser out there. Open. Go to URL. Oops. There's no Flash plugin???

No.

Conclusion

This is what I discovered during my first day with the iPhone. I hope I already discovered the worst. I wish I could arrive at home and switch my laptop off. I've got every client I need in my phone, at hand. But no, I cannot. Unless I choose which one I want to run.

2 comments:

Ociosa said...

Si quieres que te diga la verdad, lo que más me ha sorprendido de todo lo que has dicho es lo siguiente: Que te hayas comprado un iPhone.

Grey said...

Pues te entiendo. La idea inicial, si quieres la verdad, no era "solo" tener uno smartphone, sino evaluar unos smartphones porque queremos hacer unos desarrollos que tenemos pendientes encima de ellos. No hace falta decir que este "experimento" se está quedando en una pijada...