Monday, 02 July 2007

I dropped by an at&t wireless phone store yesterday while out cruising around, and checked out the iPhone, which they have a large stock of apparently. I walked in and asked, "Do you have one I can look at?" The answer was "we have lots you can buy if you want to." I got the impression there are a lot of lookers but not a lot of buyers. They certainly are not having stocking problems.

iphone1 Anyhow, I spent about 10 minutes checking out the phone, and overall I was pretty darned impressed. Certainly the overall user interface is great, and the screen is pretty amazing. I like the clean, simple, intuitive UI for sure. The Apple architecture and usability people did some pretty amazing work, and this is their first phone.

So again - I'm quite impressed. I considered buying one on the spot and my impulse-purchaser controls kicked in and I left. Important to take the time to do things like breathe. And think. Stuff like that.

So, it's great. There were a few things, though, that I had a hard time getting past during my quick run with this device phone piece of electronic art.

One of those things is the on-screen keyboard. Unless you use a finger and type one letter at a time (no thumb-typing here for sure), it's just not workable. So, if you're sending quick messages a short line at a time you're okay. But typing longer emails or notes won't work from a practical standpoint. For most users that's probably okay. For me that's a big deal.

Next, there's no 3G support - just EDGE. Which is cool in terms of keeping battery consumption minimal but not so fun in terms of data speed. However, the iPhone has WiFi capability, so in some cases there's a fast option.

One more thing I noticed - or at least could not intuitively find - is a lacking ability to copy and paste text. If someone knows how and it's possible, please let me know and I will go back and check that out.

Finally, the lack of some things that might be software-fixable (or I missed the options, so again, correct me if I am wrong): The camera appears to only do still pics, not video. I didn't see MMS capabilities but you can email images. I could not find a way to record audio. Again, all of these are software things so they can change (and this is, after all, the first release).

So - people have asked me the $600 question (I can't see buying the 4GB model, after all):

Will I buy one?

Not yet probably, but it's very very tempting.

I can actually see it happening soon though - and that's actually a surprise to me. I didn't expect to quite so won-over. It's that usable and that nice. Despite my nit-pick list above, overall I think it's great. The phone is sleek, fast, even artistic in it's UI experience. And the things it does, it does quite well. Everything else is left out (at least for now). That's refreshing compared to other models of "smart" phones that try to be everything to everyone and in the process get bogged down in their own usability, stability and performance weaknesses. Apple seems to know where to go as well as when to stop. Others could definitely learn a lesson from that.

Who else has tried one? What did you think?

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Mobile | Tech
Monday, 02 July 2007 10:35:52 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Monday, 02 July 2007 10:42:42 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
i like it
Monday, 02 July 2007 11:19:47 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I bought one and as a user who'd never had a smartphone before I'm not having any trouble typing with two thumbs though I'll be the first to admit that the auto correct saves me frequently.

Edge is slow but not unusable. I'd really like to see video and copy/paste however.

Posted from my iphone...took longer than my laptop but not ridiculous.
Tuesday, 03 July 2007 05:08:59 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
As I live outside the US, I'm one of "the rest of us" who can't get one and couldn't use it even if I could. Although Prada phones are being sold here with free Playstations after only a few months in the shops....

However, if, after 30 years in the labs, gestural UIs are indeed going to be the Next Big Thing, it occurs to me that virtual typewriter keyboards should be the first thing to go.

Instead, how about a virtual Ouija board? All two letter words would be entered with a gesture consisting of one stroke; all three letter words by a gesture consisting of two strokes and so on. The actual hand movements would be similar to those used for shorthand, so after a brief training period, text entry should be fairly quick.

Just a thought. Someone, somewhere ought to be doing research on it.
Ian Kemmish
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