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iPhone thoughts

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Sarah L saw my previous post and pointed me to the pictures of the forthcoming iPhone Shuffle. :)

She also asked various questions about iPhone stuff, which led me to put together the following table of the iPhone's pros and cons for me (from what I've heard about it so far). Unless otherwise stated, the implicit comparisons are with my current Treo 650; also, the comparisons are relevant to me but some of them may not be remotely relevant to anyone else.

iPhone Pros iPhone Cons
  • SO PRETTY!
  • Much better Mac integration
  • 1/4 the total size (volume) of my Treo + my iPod
  • Bigger screen
  • Much better web browsing experience (multiple windows! scalable pages! may even be able to post blog entries from it!)
  • Will temporarily satisfy my new-gadget hunger
  • Does WiFi
  • Will likely sync in less than 20-60 minutes
  • High-enough resolution camera that I may not feel the need to carry my real camera everywhere
  • Widgets for stocks, weather, movies, etc
  • No more relying on Palm to come out with the Next Cool Device (I still own Palm stock, but I've been disappointed in their lack of Cool New Toys for years now)
  • Slick touch interface
  • Cool voicemail interface
  • Nice enough email interface that I may actually start using email on my phone (though not, obviously, all my huge volume of mail; probably a special address)
  • Can watch videos on it
  • Won't get turned on accidentally in my pocket
  • Better Google Maps (plus phone integration)
  • Cool factor
  • SO PRETTY!
  • May not get strong enough signal at home (this and the next item are probably the only things that might stop me from getting one)
  • Voice/data plan I need may be too expensive
  • No database app
  • May be harder to read e-book versions of magazines
  • Data speed may be slower
  • No dictionary app (but easier to use m-w.com)
  • No physical keyboard
  • Only 8GB (as compared to my 30GB iPod); I'll only be able to take a fraction of my music with me
  • Have to switch phone providers (change bad!)
  • No To Do List app other than Apple's
  • Can't use a stylus
  • Don't know if I can hook it up to my car's iPod audio system
  • No Flash or Java support (but the Treo doesn't have those either)
  • Can't possibly live up to hype

Over on the MacRumors.com forums, there's a list of iPhone questions for new iPhone owners, in hopes that people who buy iPhones in the first day or two will answer the questions for people who are uncertain about various things. The questions range from the serious ("can you input text in landscape mode?") to the less serious ("Do angels sing when it's powered up?").

I'm almost certain I'm going to get one. The timing is tricky; I'm not going to get one on launch day, Friday the 29th (don't want to deal with the crowds, do want to wait for a few bits of information that probably won't be available 'til after launch); and I'm leaving for Boston on Monday the 2nd, so it seems like it might be a bad idea to switch to a completely new phone and carrier over the weekend before I leave town for three weeks. I could buy one while traveling, but that would mean that I wouldn't know until I got home about probably my most important factor, the question of how good the signal is at my house. (A colleague has offered to let me borrow his AT&T phone to try at my house, which I should probably do, but no way to tell whether the iPhone will have the same level of reception as other AT&T phones.)

Also, it seems to me Apple traditionally fails to provide enough of a new item to meet initial demand. There are rumors that that won't be true this time, but there are also rumors that it will be. I won't be surprised if all available units sell out that first night and there aren't any more to be had for a couple weeks after that. So I may have to wait 'til I get home from traveling regardless.

3 Comments

Thanks for the pro/con listings, Jed! I agree about your concerns: Will coverage be significantly worse than my current carrier (Verizon)? (As a GSM mobile, it could be much nicer to use overseas, though.) And would I ever find a decent replacement to HandyShopper (a nifty list management app on my Treo)?

Some apps aren't meant for Internet storage/handling (local db's, document reader, etc.), which makes the lack of an Internet-independent SDK an issue. Unless the Ajax-y stuff Apple mentioned could also make apps in the form of something like a Dashboard widget (i.e., with local data storage, no 'net connectivity). Then again, I haven't researched if the API they're currently offering would overlap with Dashcode. (I haven't yet looked at Dashcode, either, so this might be wild speculation on my part. ;)

In various recent announcements (including the 4th page of the MacRumors forum you cited), YouTube will be supported on the iPhone. But I wonder how other Flash (or Java) content encountered over the tubes will be handled...


Yeah, several of my cons could be subsumed under the general "no third-party apps available" problem. On the one hand, it seems pretty likely to me that Apple will open things up further in the future, allowing more third-party apps; on the other hand, they never did that with the iPod, and they sure do like having strict control over everything, so it's possible that they'll never open it to third-party developers. Which would be sad.

(On a side note, I really don't get the whole "we can't give developers access to the iPhone because they might crash the phone network!" thing. There are a whole lot of smartphones out there, including the Treo, and I've never heard of a Treo or (for example) Windows Mobile app crashing the phone network.)

In particular, I've been hoping/expecting that they'll eventually allow Dashboard widgets to be turned into standalone mini-apps on the iPhone. That wouldn't cover everything developers want to do, but I think it would probably be a big help. ...Relatedly, I'm wondering if they'll allow web apps to have some access to the local phone and/or to look like standalone apps. Most people have been taking Jobs's announcement to mean that the app solution Apple's offering is simply to run normal web apps in Safari, but he may well have meant something more than that.

As for YouTube, it's true that YouTube will be supported, but it won't be supported via Flash; instead, all of YouTube's content will be provided in the h.264 video codec, which QuickTime can display; that lets the iPhone display YouTube videos without needing Flash. I think Apple has explicitly said that the iPhone simply would not support Flash or Java.


It looks like web apps will indeed have access to the local phone -- Apple has said that

Developers can create Web 2.0 applications which look and behave just like the applications built into iPhone, and which can seamlessly access iPhone’s services, including making a phone call, sending an email and displaying a location in Google Maps.

Whether this means access to the local filesystem is not yet clear.


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