Thursday, July 24, 2008

iPhone Surprises: Notes you won't read elsewhere

I bought a white 16GB iPhone via AT&T pre-order. It took 3 days from pre-order to pickup; their email notification system didn't work.

Rather than create an annoying new stream of comments on my iPhone, I'll update this post with things I don't read elsewhere. Prior to the 2.1 update this post included a relatively caustic introduction, but post 2.1 things are much better.

This is a good time to buy an iPhone.

When I first posted this Pogue's Missing Manual wasn't out. That's a fantastic book, everyone with an iPhone should own it. I try now to only add items not covered in the book.

  1. When you change to the iPhone, you need to redo your voice mail. My AT&T rep forgot to mention this. I found out I had no voice mail after a week or so. I didn't have any directions, so I just tapped on the iPhone voice mail button to see what would happen. The behavior was weird. The initial setup seemed to be a standard phone setup, then the iPhone flipped over to a GUI setup. It now seems to work, but something went wrong.
  2. The loss of firewire charging is far more annoying than I'd expected. I have several firewire chargers that worked great, including two from Apple. They also came with nice, long, cables. Worse, the iPhone cable for my SONY car stereo no longer charges -- almost all car peripherals used firewire because it's a close match to the automotive electrical system. This includes my fairly new Griffin FM broadcast and charger. Yes, those are my teeth you hear grinding.
  3. The iPhone 2.0 USB charger is tiny. If the tines folded in it would be a perfect USB travel charger; this is an odd omission because Apple's prior chargers all had folding tines. On balance though the tiny size and weight are adequate compensation.
  4. The SIM is removable, a tiny SIM removal tool is in the box. Don't lose it! You can swap the SIM from the iPhone into a lesser AT&T phone and use that when you don't want to risk the iPhone.
  5. The iPhone has a single audio jack -- and it's a 3.5 mm connector. So 2.5 mm earsets won't work. I found 3.5mm to 2.5 mm adapters that work.
  6. The newer Apple ear buds no longer have foam covers. Ok, minor detail.
  7. There's no slipcase with the iPhone, just a cleaning cloth. There are no screen protectors either, I thought iPhone 1.0 shipped with 2-3.
  8. The inexpensive white slipcase that shipped with my video iPod is a surprisingly good iPhone case. I wouldn't mind several like that, otherwise I'll probably buy a set of screen covers. I also saw a neoprene wrapper that doesn't add much bulk and would add some fall protection.
  9. My helpful AT&T rep did the phone number swap -- but oddly enough it seemed like this was an afterthought. I think what he was really trying to do was move data from the old phone to the iPhone via Bluetooth, and he was distracted when he described the task. I'd already sync'd the old phone data to my iMac, so I didn't need that. This ate up some time before I realized what he was trying to do. Let the rep know up front that you don't need old phone data. (He also failed to write my phone number to the SIM, which means the iPhone can't display it. This is a common configuration error, AT&T has to correct it.)
  10. After phone transfer the old SIM in the old phone enables the phone to be turned on, but there's no service.
  11. With 3G service you can talk while you browse the web. This is a huge feature for me, and it's not available with EDGE service.
  12. Apple has changed their iPod/iPhone cable. It no longer has the locks, it's a pure friction connector and more compact. I imagine too many people ripped out the cable without disengaging the locks (tyranny of the incompetent!). It's also very short, but the compact charger works well at the end of a lightweight extension cord so this is a good trade-off.
  13. Apple has a 152 page user guide for the iPhone at the Apple User Guide site. There's a link to the manual on the Safari browser when you start, but it may get lost if you sync bookmarks.
  14. You can charge an iPhone at multiple machines, but be careful. I have iTunes at work configured with all sync options turned off, this means when I connect the iPhone I can browse photos, but otherwise no sync occurs and iTunes does not lauch. The iPhone, however, charges. So I don't need a separate USB charger at the office, just an iPhone/iPod USB cable (I have a bunch).
  15. Synchronization with non-Apple desktop apps is a flaming mess.
  16. With daylight illumination the camera takes a decent photo of my office whiteboard; I can read my writing. It does well with low light levels. I'm experimenting with combining this with the Evernote service -- annotating images and uploading them.
  17. Everyone needs one of the many free "flashlight" apps. The bright screen is handy to have in the dark.
  18. The iPhone UI is a stress test for Parkinson's disease, familial tremor, other movement disorders and finger/thumb joint disorders. I wonder if they'll eventually get sued under the ADA act. It's a healthy young persons UI, they need to add some tweaks for the rest of humanity.
  19. I miss having a "rocker" button like most phones have for navigating pages. It's annoying, and tiring, to have to use my fingers to turn pages. It also smears the screen, though image clarity is good even with a dirty screen.
  20. iPhone users will develop dermatitis from compulsive hand washing. Let me make sure I get official precedence for first mention of the new disorder -- "iPhone dermatitis".
  21. There's no screen indicator that the phone is in vibrate mode.
  22. Many web pages render poorly on the small screen. Newspaper columns, however, work well. Safari/mobile has one peculiar design choice. The font size is fixed, you can't override it the way you can other mobile browsers. That means the initial display flows based on the fixed font size within the vertical window. Tap twice in an area of the page to zoom to fit that region's width.
  23. I keep running into the 8 screen "pop up" limit. I think this problem could be better handled, I'm sure it will be. Annoying to close 'em. Why create so many "pop ups"? I think it's a problem with handling the HTML "open in new window" behavior.
  24. Feeds and the iPhone are a match made in heaven. Google Reader (part of the Google Mobile suite) is fantastic on the iPhone; I've switched from Bloglines to Google Reader. It's a shame that Bloglines didn't have the resources to do an iPhone/mobile version.
  25. I need to have multiple instances of Google on my phone - one for each of my Google and Google Apps personae. Hope they fix this soon.
  26. Voice notes are essential, and the variety of apps on the market that do voice note capture, including offline transcription, reveal how valuable this will be. Evernotes requires notes to upload to the server, since non-Apple iPhone apps don't do background multitasking you will eventually have to let the uploads complete. Jott does background note transcription. Obviously speech recognition on the iPhone will be a big deal, but I suspect doing that with reasonable performance and power drain will require some special dedicated hardware. Maybe version 4.
  27. Apps keep asking me if I want to use location services. Very annoying -- I always do. I'm looking for a global setting. There are a bunch of usability quirks like this, including unnecessary taps with many apps. This is trivial stuff that will get quickly sorted out, but it's good to expect it.
  28. Screen capture (transiently hold the home and power buttons) is a great workaround for various UI limitations, and a good way to put Picasa photos on the local iPhone. I'm sure apps will figure out how to attach metadata to these.
  29. I'm beginning to understand why audio pocasts and video podcasts have some value.
  30. The dictionary app does not have a UI. It learns from your actions, so try not to mislead it! If it suggests a single word that's right, tap the space bar to accept it. If you don't, you'll hurt the dictionary's feelings. Curiously it is only suggesting short words for me. I preferred the approach of the long defunct predictive text behavior of Palm apps, but those did require tapping with a stylus. This might be better in the long run.
  31. The iPhone understands that multiple people may share the same phone number. An incoming call is assigned the first alpha sort name in the list as in "Home plus 3 others". Photos associated with incoming numbers display when the phone rings -- this is very cool.
  32. Apple "improved" the launch time in version 2.1 by speeding address book launch and slowing down the launch time of every other iPhone app. So now many apps take 4 seconds to launch but contacts aren't too bad.
  33. Search on the Address book is first and last name only. If you define a company name, search is on the company name only. This is, needless to say, really dumb.
  34. The iPhone is a mediocre iPod, but there are some real improvement over prior iPods. You don't have to dismount your iPhone prior to removal from an iTunes session. It's probably a good practice, but it's not necessary. (Of course you can't mount it as a drive either.) The iPhone on 10.5 and iTunes 8 also seem to have resolved the ancient OS problem with switching users when a peripheral is mounted - at least when auto-sycn is turned off in the iPhone settings. The iPhone seems to remain locked to the user who 'owns' the iPhone account.
  35. The camera is excellent at taking screen shots of white boards in dim light. Good sharpening, good light sensitivity, right size for sharing images, resolution is adequate. Remember, the price of higher resolution is lower light sensitivity.
  36. There's no way to disable data services completely and still use the phone. In rural areas the phone may detect an EDGE network, but the throughput may be effectively zero; the phone still shows visual voice mail even when it won't work. Only when there's no EDGE service at all can standard voice mail be reached. The visual voice mail problem causes expensive data charges if you use the phone outside the US, even if you turn off other data services.
  37. If you disable data roaming (may help with voice mail travel problem) the phone still tries to use a data connection -- but nothing happens. In airplane mode it won't try to connect, but you can't use the phone either.
  38. If you delete an application from iTunes, and then choose it again from iTunes, it looks like you have to pay for it again. You won't really be charged as long as you're logging in with the account that purchased the app.
  39. Applications can be synched to up to five iTouch/iPhones from a single account. This is not at all obvious, the process for doing this needs improvement.
  40. The silver on/off button has context dependent behavior. In standard mode it locks the phone and turns off the display. When a call comes in one push silences the ring, two sends it directly to voice mail.
  41. When you search for a business on the Map and select a pin, you get a pop-up with an arrow. Touch the arrow to see the contact. What's not obvious at that point is that if you scroll down, you can add this to your address book (you cannot, however, specify to which group). I do this all the time. The form of contact that's created is very complete, including a map link.
  42. The iPhone truncates the display of Calendar notes at 1,500 characters. To see the entire note you need to navigate a tiny edit window.
  43. The touch screen responds to a finger, not to a stylus. A bigger problem is that it does very poorly with dry fingers. Since most iPhone uses are youthful, this is not widely noticed. If you're a geezer like me though, you'll have trouble with unrecognized touches. There's an obvious solution, but I think my salivary amylase is dissolving my screen (good reason not to touch the iPhone of a geezer). Maybe someone will sell an iPhone case with an integrated saline pad to moisten fingertips.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I believe the slow response in loading the address book may be related to photos you have attached to your contacts. It's not just reading in a database file of text, it's reading in attached images as well.