WARNING: This blog contains random thoughts on technology, software engineering, and general all-round nerdery. Read at your own risk. Nerd is contagious.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


So, long story short, I ended up buying an iPhone. I really wanted to wait for the 2nd gen phone (rumor is that the 16GB HSDPA-enabled version out in November), but I had a $125 Mall gift card burning a hole in my pocket which was about to expire, and then came the $200 drop in price, so... yeah.

As revolutionary as the iPhone is, it is a 1st gen product. Many things which we are used to on smartphones do not exist in the iPhone (although many of those "features" are not necessary). I think Apple did a great job of identifying what are the key features in a communications devices and optimized it for that. Everything is a tight and focused experience.

I am still amazed at the apparent lack of all "lag" in a device as small as this. I thought that surely the user experience has to be a little slow, right? If you've every used a Windows Mobile device, you'll know what I'm talking about. However, everything is silky smooth, transitions between apps don't stutter, scrolling is always smooth. It's almost like everything in the OS is always in L2 cache (screw RAM!)

We've all heard that AT&T's EDGE network is slow and horribly crappy. I've had a Cingular 8125 (HTC Wizard) before the iPhone, and let me tell you, browsing on that phone is about clicking a link and then finding something else to look at for 2 minutes. After viewing the same pages on the iPhone, I am surprised how much of that delay was also due to 8125 being a crapfest! I mean, I'm not giving AT&T an award here, the EDGE network is much better on the iPhone than it is on the 8125.

Anyway, call be Debbie Downer, but I like to gauge devices by what they can't do. So here's what I don't like:

I don't know what it is, but I hate iTunes.

Unlike other Apple products, it just feels slow, bulky and resource hungry in Windows. Just scrolling your library is cringeworthy. I have a fairly powerful machine too: Dual Core X2 Athlon 64 4400+ with 2GB of RAM, yet iTunes is just... slow. Like an app that's dying for a lite version.

The iPhone doesn't have disk mode like other iPods.

I don't know if it's a technical or legal limitation, but it's a big problem for me. You see, I use the excellent Winamp to manage all my music and transfer music to my iPods. This is possible if disk mode is enabled on the device. Even from iTunes, I cannot manually choose what music goes in my iPhone!! I have to "sync" my music. Thanks Apple, that's great - I'll take my 160GB of music and videos, and have you decide which of my music I should listen to in my 4GB iPhone. Oh what's that? If I have my media distributed across different machines I'm screwed unless I sync only with one computer? Hey, now we're talkin!

A common "workaround" is to make playlists for everything to get it on the iPhone. But this is exactly the type of cumbersome user experience that I thought Apple shunned. I mean, they practically invented drag & drop-style intuitive experiences!

UPDATE: I'm not the only one.

Sorry, back to iTunes for a sec: When my iPhone is syncing, one of my CPUs hits 100%.

I didn't notice until I looked up at my Winbar that one of my CPUs was crying for help. In that particular sync, I had modified 4 contacts on the phone. It takes me like 15minutes to finish one sync! Maybe it's a Vista thing, but Sheesh

Unlike other people, most of my gripes are with iTunes experience. The device itself has been excellent so far. I'm glad I replaced my 8125 for it. Now it's time to hack the thing :)

Some of the cool stuff I'm interested in are the XBMC Remote. A list of cool hacks/sites are aggregated at TUAW's iPhone Page.


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