It was on September 4th that I finally received my iPhone via UPS. And after gleefully paying the outrageous COD and shipping fees I had it in my hands. The very first thing I remember thinking about the iPhone was how small it was in my hands. For some reason I had this notion that it was much larger and bulkier than what I was feeling. Hard to believe that all of the countless hours salivating over the device on the Apple site that I could mistake it's size.
I should mention that prior to this, I had just bought a brand new Sony Ericsson on a basic Rogers plan that was running about $20 a month. I knew full well that it wouldn't be with me long when I bought it. It was merely convenient at the time to pick up a phone and a service plan in the meantime while I contemplated my iPhone purchase.
No Longer In My Pockets
The iPhone's features are so functional that it has led me to replace three devices:
Palm Tungsten E. The notes application has been reason enough to drop the use of my old Palm. I only ever used it as a digital pad of paper anyways.
iPod. Obviously the music and the movie experience was more than enough to drag me away from my 80GB iPod.
MacBook. And oddly enough it has also taken the place of my laptop now as well for many activities. Mind you, Photoshop doesn't run on the iPhone, but it's much easier to take the iPhone out of my pocket to browse the internet or send off an email than it is to reach into my bag and pull out my laptop.
I'm sure you can all read about what the iPhone can do on Apple's website, so I won't reiterate all of that. Rather, I've chosen to do a series of quick posts (possibly video) that will show off some of the cool things that the iPhone is capable of and the countless 3rd party apps.
What I Like
Google Maps. Sure, it's no GPS device, but in a big city like Edmonton it's easy to get lost. It's comforting to know that I can just whip out my iPhone and verify which street I'm on. Even if I can't find a hotspot, the maps are cached locally as you view them, so although I may not be able to search for a specific location, I am still able to view the map nonetheless. I can't tell you how many times this has saved me from getting lost in the city.
Mail. With the iPhone, I was able to set it up to access the email from my GMail account and re-check it every 15 minutes. A simple feature, yes. But it's better than keeping a GMail tab open all of the time waiting for email. Now I just get a notification for each new message I receive and I'm able to send a quick reply.
Keyboard. This was a little tricky to get used to and I honestly thought that I'd hate this part the most. Not having any tactile feedback on which key you're pressing is very hard to adjust to. But like Apple suggests, if you trust the keyboard it will begin to work for you. The keyboard is amazingly intuitive and the auto-correction on misspelled words helps out a lot as well. I can almost type as fast on my iPhone as I can on a regular keyboard now.
What I Don't Like
Nothing. Moving on... Kidding of course. A device so different is bound to have flaws and the iPhone is no exception.
EDGE. I mentioned that I did not and do not intend to subscribe to a data plan with Rogers. One thing that continues to annoy me with the iPhone is it's persistence to let me know that I'm not on EDGE whenever I'm not on WiFi. Each time I try and load a web page accidentally without an AP, I get an error message letting me know that I don't have EDGE. There still isn't a way to turn this nuisance off.
Flash. Honestly, I know that Apple doesn't like Flash and hates to use it. I agree with them. Flash websites are the bane of my online presence. However, they should at least recognize that websites such as YouTube rely on Flash as the backbone for their services. The YouTube channel just doesn't make up for this loss. I hope they get their act together on this one and add this support in a future update.
Synchronization. This is something so incredibly obvious to every iPhone and iPod Touch user, it surprises me that Apple hasn't done this yet! With the advent of the iTunes Store on the iPhone now, why can't we wirelessly sync our content back to our computers? I'm pretty sure Microsoft will beat Apple to this one even. The Zune 2 might even have this feature already. I'm not sure.
The possibilities for this device are so great. And with the announcement of a proper SDK release from Apple in February I think we're going to see some amazingly innovative stuff done with this device and the user interface.
One thing that I will note about the user interface that I am a little taken aback by is the endless touting of "multi-touch" interface. However, besides the odd "pinch" gesture to resize a photograph or a website view there is rarely a moment where the user has to lend more than one finger to the screen. I hope that we do see some more innovation with the interface in particular as things progress.
After all of this time and effort spent in making this device work in Canada, and not to mention a huge investment in what many still regard as just another cell phone, I am often asked whether or not it was worth it all. The answer to that is quite simple for myself. Yes.
I enjoyed hacking the device and learning about the way it works almost as much as I enjoy using the iPhone. Not to mention that having the product of the moment in your pocket that no one else has is very exciting. It also makes for a great conversational piece. Many people have stopped me in hallways and at lunch to ask me about it. The conversations never tire. Especially in a school filled to the brim with geeks and fanboys.
Update: Stay tuned for features on hacking the iPhone and cool applications and uses.