Jun 24, 2010

iphone 4

I was one of the iLucky ones and was able to get an iPhone 4 order in before AT&T's/Apple's systems crumbled under the epic iDemand.  It arrived today all shiny and new.  I haven't played with it too much but some initial thoughts on it and the new iOS.
  • Folders.  The new system is both a blessing and a curse.  Some kind of app management system was needed but it's tough to keep track of what is in each folder. It's a tad clunky in reality though and just barely saves you time over the multiple app screens.  I'm not sure if this is the most elegant solution.
  • Multi-tasking.  For some reason this doesn't seem right.  It works in its limited fashion but it seems slightly confusing and forced.  I never wanted multi-tasking on the phone.  The use cases are limited for me and it introduces a whole level of complexity to the device that I'm sure will go over most people's heads.  This is a classic case of where Jobs should have called a tyrannical overlord option and said, "you really don't want multi-tasking.  You think you do but you don't."  Why do things like Phone, Settings, Contacts, Clock getting multi-tasked?  Why are these things running in the background?  What I want is some type of task manager.  In the morning I go through the same old routine; loading all my news apps so I have something to read on the subway.  Clearly this is something that should be automated.
  • Camera.  The camera is amazingly fast and responsive compared to the previous versions.  Just blazing.  Photos are taken as quickly as you can push the camera button.  Launch time however is still pretty slow and takes a few seconds.  Focus and exposure can be enabled by tapping.  Digital zoom (tap near the bottom of the screen) is largely useless.
  • Video.  New to me at least; the video capabilities are a nice addition.  I plan on getting the iMovie app as well.  It is a video camera without stabilization however.  And that makes for tiresome viewing.  I imagine I'll be trying to prop the phone on some kind of stabilizing structure if I really want a usable shot.
  • Photo Viewing.  The photo app now includes a "Places" tab that drops pins on a Google map in locations where photos were taken.  It's a pretty cool way to find photos from a particular location.
  • Safari.  Search now autocompletes with suggestions.  Awesome.
  • Speed.  Holy cow is this thing fast compared to my 3G.  My 3G bogs badly under the new iOS.  So much so that I'm considering downgrading the OS to the previous version.  Take a gander at the load times on Plants vs. Zombies (great game) on the two phones below.  Insane!
  • Screen.  Much has been made of the quality of the screen but honestly I don't see that much difference.  In fact the old 3G screen is somewhat nicer.  More bluish whereas the iPhone is more yellowish.  Although I don't seem to have any of the yellow spot problems some have.  Keep in mind that this is coming from someone whose near sightedness is starting to flag in old age.
  • Reception.  Thankfully I don't seem to suffer from the odd reception issues when holding the phone in a particular way.  I haven't tested it that much but I couldn't find any way to lose 5 bars.

Overall the speed and the video are the things that drove me to upgrade.  The rest of the features are ho-hum in my mind.  Especially the much anticipated OS level features.  In many ways it seems like Apple is trying to implement desktop OS features in a mobile formfactor. I understand the struggle they are dealing with as the OS gets built out.  But I'm a little worried we'll end up with something overly complicated.  My complaints around computers have always focused on the fact that they operate stupidly; making you do repetitive tasks and taking care of things that you don't want to do.  I would rather them focus on fixing things like Safari remembering passwords and things that improve my efficiency.

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