28 January 2010
Just before I was giving my presentation at Sales Kick Off yesterday, Apple began unveiling their new iPad. A few people in the audience were looking at the emerging details on their iPhones. I took a quick scan of my Twitter stream later on. It was a topic of discussion throughout the day. I eventually read a small amount of the coverage.
The general complaints I saw on Twitter were related to the lack of a camera or the fact that it had data service only through AT&T. What I see is the biggest failing of the device, quite honestly, is the same downside as for the iPhone: the fact that the device is tied to iTunes.
The iTunes app itself is a bloated, monolithic application that does far too many things. Aside from that, it means you cannot manage content on the device from more than one Mac or PC. I suspect this “limitation” has something to do with how Apple implements DRM, but even Apple has to realize that people own (or use) more than one computer these days and should figure out a way to handle this more gracefully–at least with non-DRMed content.
With this in mind, Apple has clearly created a device that is not a replacement for your primary computer. It’s a big iPod Touch. That’s great for consuming certain kinds of content, but given the limitations of iPhone OS, it won’t be replacing my laptop in my bag anytime soon.
Perhaps the next iPhone OS will remove some of them. Maybe it will add Bluetooth keyboard support, multitasking, and the ability to manage content from more than one computer. Maybe it will do a better job managing battery life or remove the stupid limitations about downloading larger than 10mb files over 3G.
Will the iPad change the world? We don’t have the whole story yet. The rest of it will come when they announce the next iPhone OS, presumably before the iPad actually ships. Then we’ll know the true capabilities of the iPad and just how game changing things will be.
Meanwhile, Apple has ramped up the hype machine by announcing the iPad prior to shipping. The fanboys will continue to drool over the hardware. The rumors will continue to spread until the iPad ships.
Me? I’m happy with my iPhone. It’s already changed my world. Will the iPad change my world? Maybe, but I’m happy to wait and let the true story unfold.
4 December 2009
When I think about my iPhone and compare it to what I gave up on my Nokia phones, I realize that, in many ways, I had tried to make my Nokia phones behave in ways that they were not really designed for.
You might find it ironic that Nokia Nseries phones don’t do multimedia well, even though it is something they are designed to do. It is adequate, but small things like the speed of syncing with your computer or keeping track of play counts or ratings make for a less than stellar experience.
Mac integration is another sticking point for me. While Nokia gets kudos for Nokia Multimedia Transfer, which helps a Nokia device tie into the Mac ecosystem of iTunes and iPhoto, not to mention iSync plugins to sync calendar and contacts, there’s no PC Suite type app and no way to update the firmware from a Mac. Not to mention that Macs are not always supported when various Ovi services are launched.
And yet, with my iPhone, there are things it can’t do–multitasking perhaps biggest on the list. I knew going into the iPhone that this was going to be a limitation. I came to terms with that long before I gave up my credit card number and ordered the device, though.
The inability to load apps that Apple hasn’t approved is another issue. People get around this by jailbreaking the device. I am not going to pass judgment on those who decide to go that route. I’ve done it myself, not to install apps, but to unlock the device so I can use it with other (non-AT&T) SIM cards. It can be restored to Steve Jobs approved state easily enough.
While I like the flexibility that a Nokia device offers, I have decided that, for me, a mobile device that is reliable is also important. I have had too many instances where my Nokia’s aren’t reliable–even when sticking to built-in apps! The iPhone gives the right balance of both functionality and stability.
I was listening to MacBreak Weekly some weeks ago. The panel was discussing, among other things, the merits of Android versus iPhone. Andy Ihnatko made an excellent point that stuck with me throughout the day, though it was best summarized by Merlin Mann (also on the show that day): Once you accept how a device is put together, your mind operates completely differently.
Trying to treat an iPhone like a Nokia–or vice versa–is a waste of energy. While even today I am occasionally stimied by the lack of multitasking of the iPhone, I can now generally work with the limitations. The same can be said for the limitations of a Nokia device: I am familiar enough with the platform that I can generally work within the limitations. The mindsets needed to operate both are different, but one is not inherently “better” than the other.
For the functions that I use regularly, the iPhone wins, hands down. For those situations where an iPhone doesn’t make sense, I can always take my SIM card out and put it in a Nokia device.
7 July 2009
It’s been a while since I’ve spent my own money on any phone. One of the benefits of having worked for Nokia for 10 years, I suppose. I could have easily continued to use my supply of Nokia phones until the standards changed or they all broke. Instead, I decided to go iPhone, or more specifically, iPhone 3GS.
Now, I only have had the phone for only 12 hours or so, so it’s difficult to have a fully formed opinion about the device. However, I like what I’m seeing so far. Most of what I am focusing on right now is things I do everyday.
I’m actually typing this blog post on an iPhone thanks to the WordPress app that I downloaded from the App Store. Typing in general on this thing will take some getting used to, but thanks to landscape mode and Apple’s intelligent spell checker as you type, it’s better than I thought. I wish every iPhone app supported landscape mode typing.
The App Store is great–to he point of being downright dangerous to your pocketbook. I was able to find a number of cool apps very easily. Tweetie is a great Twitter app, I like the RSSPlayer app. Other suggestions I will try in the coming days.
I’m finding the lack of multitasking on the iPhone to be less of an issue than I thought it would be. Most apps (at least the built-in ones) seem to intelligently pick up right where you left off. One problem I can already see is not being able to multitask in a call–something I do on my Nokia E71 often enough. The important apps multitask–namely the music and sync email.
The hardware is slick, no doubt. I like the Oleophobic screen, which makes it much easier to clean off. I like that there is a small switch to change the phone to silent mode. The camera is being tested, as is battery life. I took a sample picture using the iPhone 3GS camera and attached it to the end of the post. The WordPress app did resize it, I’ll have to post it to Flickr later on.
One thing that is working better than expected is the Stereo Bluetooth. Unlike my Nokia E71 where dropouts were common, it seems to work flawlessly with the iPhone 3GS. WiFi also seems to work better, but more testing is clearly needed. Certainly Apple’s networking stack is far less retarded than it is on Nokia handsets.
In short, I am liking it so far. I’m relearning how to do everything and I am finding it relatively easy to figure it all out. I can see why people love their iPhones.
1 July 2009
Despite my previous objections with the way Apple controls the App Store, not to mention my general preference for buttons over a completely touch interface, I am throwing in the towel, putting down my credit card, and buying an iPhone 3GS 32GB. Yes, I realize to some this means that hell must have frozen over and the apocalypse must be coming. What changed?
The most obvious change? I no longer work for Nokia, for one. Not that working for Nokia gave me exceptional access to the latest Nokia gear, but I did get a few handsets from them. I sport my Nokia E71 every day and occasionally use the others for various functions.
I can’t say it was one thing that pushed me over the edge. It was a lot of little things that added up to my ultimate decision to buy an iPhone 3GS. This isn’t a complete list, but here goes:
It’s Faster: One issue I have with my E71 is how slow it is when it comes to rendering web pages, not to mention other “random’ slowdowns that crop up with the phone. The iPhone 3GS has both a faster processor and twice the memory of the iPhone 3G. Those things will make a difference.
More Storage: I have a hard time conceiving how I will fill 32gb, but I’m sure I will find a way.
It’s an iPod: Actually, this part isn’t as key to me, as I don’t spend a lot of time listening to music and the like. However, I am big on podcasts. While Nokia has an app on the phone for handling podcasts, it has a number of issues. Also, for the rare times I actually do want to sync music to my Nokia phones, it is excruciatingly slow. Even Nokia’s current flagship handset takes forever to sync. Apple has this down with their iPods, iPhones, and iTunes. It all works together nicely.
It Takes Decent Video: Unlike my Nokia E71, this takes video that is on-par with my Nokia N95 8GB. This demo video that Kevin Tofel took from JKOnTheRun took was enough to convince me that it was decent.
It’s A Better Camera: It’s only a 3 megapixel camera, but it has autofocus and the ability to direct the focus with a tap on, say, someone’s face. The MacBreak Weekly gang was raving about it. I won’t have flash but, then again, the flash on the Nokia E71 is pretty worthless.
Cut and Paste: Ok, some of my earliest Nokia devices had this feature, but it’s nice to see Apple provide this feature in the iPhone 3.0 software. Hopefully it is better than the Cut and Paste on the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, which suffers from S60 5th Edition and a lack of buttons.
Tethering; Ok, even my old Nokia featurephones from 2003 could do this, but it’s nice to see Apple getting with the program and adding support for this useful feature.
Stereo Bluetooth: Ever since I bought a stereo bluetooth headset, my workouts at the Y have been much better. Up until the iPhone 3GS, stereo bluetooth was simply not an option on iPhone. Now it is.
Device Encryption: This feature I didn’t even know about until I started looking on Apple’s site for things I had previously thought were worthwhile. There’s a blurb about hardware encryption on the More Features page, but there’s precious little details about what it does. If it does what Check Point’s Full Disk Encryption does for my Nokia handsets, that would be good. More information is needed.
Free WiFi from AT&T: I have been finding myself in Starbucks more and more as of late. Now that they’re all AT&T hotspots, the ability to hop-on their WiFi for free and with less hassle is a bonus.
It’s The Apps, Stupid: And, of course, the best reason of all to get a smartphone these days is the applications. While I will for sure miss Gravity, my favorite Twitter client for Nokia devices, there are plenty of fine replacements on iPhone. Not to mention replacements for some of the other apps I use, not to mention new apps I haven’t been able to try to date because I lacked an iPhone.
Of course, this is before I get the iPhone. Apple hasn’t shipped the order yet. I suspect with the Independence Day holiday, I might not get it before Monday. Assuming they’re not out of stock or anything, I should get it sometime next week. I’ll keep refreshing the order status page like an impatient geek, looking for word on when my new toy will arrive.
5 January 2009
Today’s been a relative cornucopia of news related to Skype, Truphone, and Boingo, three services I like quite a bit. They are only related insofar as they all involve Skype in some way.
First off, let’s talk Skype on the Mac. Dan York reports he’s gotten to play with the new Skype 2.8 client for the Mac, which offers some “unique” features:
- Screen Sharing with Macs, Windows, and Linux
- Improved chat management: ability to sort chats in the drawer and set priorities to chats
- Quick Add: much easier to add people to chats
- Mood message chat: mood message updates from your friends as chat messages
- Large avatars: 256×256 pixels
- Hidden avatars in incoming contact requests
- Ability to add your own notes to contacts
You should go read Dan’s post for the blow-by-blow, or go check out the post on Skype Journal. I’m sure I’ll have my own once the client is released (supposedly tomorrow, on the 6th of January, so check here to see if it’s available yet).
The other feature present in this new Skype relates to my friends at Boingo: you can now use Skype Credits to pay for Boingo WiFi hotspots on a per-minute basis, no monthly or daily fees required. It sounds a bit pricey at $0.22 a minute that Dan mentions in his post, considering that Boingo’s monthly rate is now a jaw-dropping $9.95 a month for North America! Might be a better deal abroad. I’ll have to see how this works before I can comment further.
Finally, Truphone announced today that the latest version of their iPhone/iPod Touch calling application, which now includes the ability to both IM and call Skype users! IM is also supported for Gtalk (calling also available), MSN. and Yahoo. Calling is coming for MSN and Yahoo. Twitter support is also in the app as wel. The new Truphone app for iPod Touch/iPhone will be available on the 12th of January.
I talked with newly appointed Truphone CEO Geraldine Wilson about the app this evening. I had to ask some dumb questions about the app, being that I don’t have an iPhone or an iPod Touch to try it on myself. At this point, the app still has to be in the foreground in order to receive calls or receive IM messages. No support for SMS yet, either. It’s also not clear when IM and Skype capabilities will be available on other supported handsets.
I’m wondering, though, if we won’t see Truphone some how join up with Boingo in order to provide a seamless experience in the more than 100,000 Boingo hotspots worldwide? Or how about somehow using Apple’s Push Notification service for IM and inbound calls? It would certainly make it easier to use Truphone anywhere.
30 December 2008
This wasn’t even something I was planning to write about, but I got into a bit of a discussion with Pat Phelan about it over Twitter and thought it’d make a good post.
I am not saying the iPhone is OUT because I’m a Nokia employee and don’t even own an iPhone. That would be like shooting fish in a barrel. I have philosophical reasons for being against the iPhone, namely the way Apple controls what apps can be loaded onto the device.
Only applications found on Apple’s App Store can be loaded onto an iPhone or iPod touch. Clearly, the App Store provides a lot of benefits. It makes it easy for people to find–and buy–applications they want. Nokia could learn a thing or two from the user experience.
The problem is someone–namely Apple–is a gatekeeper as to what apps appear in the store. That’s good–as long as you agree with what Apple is going to choose to allow. They can choose to deny apps on whatever grounds they want, despite publishing guidelines.
It also puts the gatekeeper–in this case, Apple–in a bad spot. When a controversial application comes along, they can’t win with either decision. For example, Pat Phelan thinks that “fart” apps and apps that track menstrual cycles of multiple women are “bottom of the barrel.” In other words, these are apps that Pat thinks shouldn’t have made it through the approval process. Apple loses both ways here: either they boot the apps for an arbitrary reason and get criticized (or even abandoned) by the development community, or they allow these apps and they appear to be “endorsing” programs that are tasteless or worse.
I agree that these apps are not shining examples of human intelligence. However, I am of the opinion that people should be able to write whatever applications they want, sell them, and consumers should be able to buy whatever applications they want and install them on hardware they paid good money for. It’s a matter of principle, and the Apple iPhone is completely incompatible with it.
3 October 2008
Next Page »
It keeps coming:
Mobivox Unveils Voice-Activated Mobile Services Platform: This is primarily geared at service providers. While I think their platform is good, as it contains thinks like voice-activated dialing and call control, group calling, and voice-to-SMS, and voice-to-email messaging, I think the challenge is going to be getting carriers to adopt. You can read more from them on the Mobivox|PL blog.
Alltel Bringing Customers NuTsie: If you want to spend $4.99 a month or $19.99 a year to listen to items from your iTunes library from your Alltel handset, and you happen to have one of the 10 handsets Alltel supports this on, get thee to the Alltel Shop on the handset and buy it.
Into High School Sports? Check Out Locofan.net: Ted Wallingford helped to put together a social networking site for high school sports called LocoFan.net! This is about empowering the social discourse surrounding sports that makes prep athletics so much fun. Things like boosting, smack talking, Saturday-morning quarterbacking, and of course, media sharing. Not personally a high school ports fan, but maybe when my kids are old enough.
DeFi Mobile Offers Unlimited Calling over WiFi for $40/mo: This service provides unlimited calling as well as unlimited data on a number of commercial WiFi hotspots worldwid–yes, data you can use for other things. Seems a bit like a cross between Boingo and Truphone, but personally, I think Truphone and Boingo are a better deal.
Skype on Asterisk: Tom Keating did a long piece on the recent announcement about Skype being made available as a channel driver for Asterisk. In short, it allows you to both make and receive calls with Skype using an Asterisk server. Anything you can do with, say, an oubound SIP channel or an IP telephone extension can bow be done with Skype. It’s not going to be open-source, nor is it going to be free. It does open up some interesting opportunities.