iPhone 3G: My thoughts upon… (and rants upon)

I have had my iPhone for a few days now. First off, there is a LOT to love about this little gadget. However, there are several significant annoyances and a number of lesser impediments that truly keep the iPhone from being all that it can be.

A number of these are software related, but a number of the more grueling annoyances exist merely due to restrictive policies.

***

SMS – The bubbles is a nice way to follow a conversation. But there is an element missing. The fact that my wife and I like to keep some of our text messages, in particular those sweet encouraging ones from each other.  The current conversation based messaging setup deletes an entire conversation.

What I’d like to see…a means to add a text message as a “Memory”. Give a little heart option, whatever. And it could be saved in a separate folder. And not deleted when you delete the whole conversation.

Overall, the discussion thread layout is appealing and probably worth the loss. But why, when a little modification could make it a full win?

Calendar – Sub-par, while it’s a pretty nifty little calendar. It fails IMHO at calendering. The iPhone’s calendar lacks basic features that a Jr. level programmer could have coded.  Particularly in regards to recurring schedules.  I have a writer’s group that meets the last Thursday of every month. But good luck getting that scheduled into your iPhone.  Create the event, tell it to repeat monthly. And it will, but only on the date of your event.

Contacts – Okay, I think we have a winner. Yes, there are a few things I’d like to be able to do. But very few and very minor. The ability to create your own labels is a gift from the good Lord above. (You know it, how many contacts do you have that are a husband and wife pair, and you’ve got a cell phone for both. Then you call the wrong part of the couple. No more, now you can create your own custom labels (husband/wife, etc.).   Note, that these labels show up EVERYWHERE in contacts as options. So you might want to limit yourself to generic labels. (ie: Beeper versus John’s Pager). Definitely like the contacts. And clicking on address loads up Google Maps.

Oh wait, one grueling aspect is missing. “Groups”  Yes, I’d really love to group my contacts. (ie: Personal, Work, Church, etc) and quickly filter by such.  It’d be a bit easier than scrolling thru a 100+ contacts.

Voice Dial – Some 3rd Party apps but nothing to write home about yet. Truly, I’d love to see Microsoft step in and sell Microsoft Voice Command for iPhone.

Google Maps – Quite a nice little app. There is something to be said to looking up one of your favorite restaurants on your new phone. Touching it and adding it to contacts and dialing the restaurants and placing an order for “Large cheese pizza please!”.

Though, for navigation it pales when compared to my old Verizon XV6700 with Odyssey Navigation using my bluetooth Pharos GPS unit.  I found the GPS to be less than accurate, at least on Google maps.  Often it will show my location as being an entire block off. Kind of a bummer. But this may be a Google map issue. As it probably is not pinging the GPS as much as my old nav software did and it probably doesn’t have the functions for calculating one’s progress (dead reckoning) to help maintain estimates when GPS signal might be blocked.

Safari – Nice browsing, wish it had Flash Player.  That said, I’ve found that a large number of sites I visit serve up mobile editions. Hey, I thought I got the whole internet with the iPhone (minus Flash player).

Bluetooth – Haven’t tested yet, but the rumor is that almost all bluetooth profiles are disabled other than headsets. WHY? WHY? WHY?

Synching – What a pain. If you thought Apple’s iPod was restrictive and cumbersome.  The iPhone is a lot worse, especially if you’re trying to keep songs, files, etc synchronized between multiple PCs. Change a few settings (auto-sync or manage yourself) and the synch will delete files form your iPhone.  The iPhone will only recognize a single machine. (Makes me shudder to thing what would happen if my PC went down. I believe I’d lose everything on my iPhone. Because I’d lose the back up. And if I tried to make a new machine (or re-installed machine) the synch-machine. It will automatically erase everything on the iPhone.

I must be missing something here, Apple can’t be that big of morons – can they?

3rd Party Apps – Some nice offerings, even on the free end. But still a bit weak on some of the productivity.

I’ve been waiting for a tethering app, which apparently one was released only to be quickly pulled (probably from pressure by AT&T). *argh* More restrictions.

Ringtones – Really, you want me to pay an extra $1 to make a ring tone of a song I already own. Excuse me…. you have to be smoking something Steve.

Oh, and I can only make ringtones from those tracks that iTunes says I can.  A whopping 30 songs out of over a 3,000 legitimately owned songs I have in iTunes.

***

All that said, the interface, user interaction, etc. Is a beauty. Even tasks that require more work (such as creating a contact) on the iPhone than my old WM5 PocketPC phone have the pleasure of interacting.

There is tremendous potential with this device. Truthfully, I believe all these flaws are easily curable if Apple and AT&T could get out of their own way (ie: stop with the super-secret, super-restrictive bullcrap that really achieves nothing *)

Why such a critical eye? Because my wife desperately needs a PDA phone. And we’re trying to evaluate whether the iPhone is a good, decent, okay, poor, or lousy choice for her.  The inherent advantage of the iPhone (both her and I would have them, and we could use the same tools) and a wonderful interface, the disadvantages….some major lacks in some major areas.  Might simply drive my wife mad. (Something no husband wishes to do!)

ADDENDUM I:

* Nothing….

Super-secret: iPhone SDK license agreement requires you not to talk to ANYONE else about anything in it. Mind you, the SDK is free, anyone can download it. So what the heck are they hiding. The downside, developer’s can’t create networks or forums to assist each other in coding and improving their software.

Super-restrictive: All the restrictions on moving media files, data files, etc. Between your various 5 active instances of iTunes simply makes things more cumbersome.  It does nothing to prevent digital piracy as their are ways to access all of this information with simple hacks and procedures.  What is does, is piss off users like me who have thousands of $$$ invested in albums. And hundreds of dollars invested in hardware. And am unduly restricted. You want me not to pirate, don’t make legally using my own music harder than if I simply pirated it.

*******************************************************************************************

PS –  I apologize for the long rant. I wish I could use LiveJournal’s  <lj-cut></li-cut> tags. A great feature of LJ. Anyone know if WordPress has a similar tag/function to condense and hide a large chunk of text?

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6 Responses to “iPhone 3G: My thoughts upon… (and rants upon)”


  1. 1 Luke August 4, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    I agree with much of what you’re saying. The secrecy and restrictiveness pervades (no sim unlocked phones either) and is a big downer. I do love the phone, but I thought I’d talk about the problems, so I’ve put a few of my personal issues on my blog, link: http://blendedmusings.blogspot.com/2008/07/iphone-problems-when-switching-from.html

    One thing I can’t figure out for the life of me. How do you add the custom labels to the contact fields?

  2. 2 thesaj August 4, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    I don’t think you can add custom fields per say. There is an option “Add Field” at the bottom, but it only allows for a select few fields (prefix, suffix, nickname, birthdate, etc).

    But you can add custom labels to things like the phone, email, etc. Take email for example. Edit the field, underneath you’ll see “Home”. Click on that and you’ll get a list of options, but if you scroll to the bottom you’ll see “Add Custom Label”.

    Not quite custom fields, but maybe it’ll help you in a few situations.

    – The Saj

  3. 3 The real Mr. Funk August 4, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    I have to agree on most things. I think a lot of the things that annoy the hell out of people have all been put in there to please the RIAA and AT&T. Maybe that was acceptable when the only real market was the US, but it really has to change soon. I have an unlocked 3G on Three, and I pay them $X every month and they give me Ngb a month. They don’t care how I use it, nor should they. But thanks to the hold AT&T have over the iPhone, and the RIAA over iTunes, we can only use 50% of the phone’s potential.

    Once again, my digital experience is being hampered by big evil companies from a far off land 😦

    Things I would definitely change:

    Having the contact search field scrolling off the screen with the contacts. That annoys the shit outta me!

    The camera. I’ve used the Nokia N-series phones, iPhone’s camera is a hate crime. Just leave it off the device if you’re not going to include something useful, Steve. And the geotagging “works” only occasionally- of course it always puts me somewhere off the coast of Hawaii.

  4. 4 thesaj August 4, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    If it’s any consolation… I believe 3 of the 4 big RIAA companies are no longer American and are foreign owned.

    That said, you can blame sleazy U.S. politicians for allowing themselves to be bribed.

  5. 5 Matt August 4, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    Agree on all points and I’ll add another. My wife still has an ordinary run of the mill cell phone. She is constantly poking fun at the fact that in order to view MMS messages she sends me of our son on my fancy $400 phone (yes, I have a version 1 phone) I have to get a pen and paper to write down some ridiculously long one off message id and password and go to some crappy website to pull up the picture, on a phone that has one of the best built in photo viewers you can find on a mobile device. I mean, if for some reason they’re resistant to mms messaging, they could at least provide a link in the sms message.

    That’s a stubborn annoyance, but the SDK secrecy and total lockdown with itunes are just a humiliating slap in the face.. almost enough to make me want to get rid of it, if only it wasn’t such an awesome device in every other respect. I hate that they can get away with the blatant disregard for respect of their customers and developers simply because no other comparable machine has yet to emerge (come on already Android!)

    Oh well, jail breaking helps a bit. I can change the background behind my icons (wow, desktop wallpaper, imagine that!) and have full ssh access to the phone allowing file transfers and such. But still, it annoys me to no end that apple treats the phone and ipod touch as a ‘consumer device’ to the extreme and not the amazing, versatile handheld computer it is.

  6. 6 Johny BGood September 14, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Wow, good analysis.
    I could give you a tip on contacts group missing feature.
    You can use 3rd party apps to manage these groups.
    I am using a free one:
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/easy-group/id461469079?l=fr&ls=1&mt=8

    What I like is that it does not replace “Contacts”, it is only an add-on just to create and populate groups.

    Additionally it can send bulk text to all a group.
    Surprised not to find this missing feature in your list !

    John John


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