111 days of iPhone dislikes

October 19, 2007

There is plenty to like about the iPhone 16 weeks after I purchased it, including some of the recent 1.1.1 software upgrade enhancements like the double click home button feature, as well as the super snappy and simple iTunes wifi app. But there are plenty of things that have frustrated me thus far, and are as follows by order of
annoyance level:

The keyboard is probably better than I feel like it is, but the lack of
tactile response and my fat fingers combine for a pretty awful thumb
typing experience. However, the text prediction just got me through
the preceding sentence (and all but one word in this one) without the
need to correct or even hit the backspace “button” once. I have to
admit that’s much better than I would have done on a real thumb
keyboard, but the typing experience is definitely the key sacrifice
you make for the screen size and the overall UI experience. It’s a
trade off that at most moments I am happy to make, but not all moments
to be sure.

The typing issue certainly affects the usefulness of the email
application, but even excluding that as a factor the email app needs a
lot of improvement. My chief complaint is the number of taps required
to move from one account to another. Also, full blown HTML messages
are nice but only really practical over wifi. If someone sends you a
note with large attachments forget about even being able to read the text in the note via EDGE. In fact, I received one such email from a
family member and attempting to open it completely locked the iPhone
up requiring a soft reset a la Windows Mobile. I saw this happen I
think 5 different times exactly the same way, so I’ m convinced as to
the cause. This was before the first software update (1.01, followed by 1.02, and then of course the 3rd party app killing 1.1.1) and I haven’t
seen this happen due to large attachment messages since, but the fury
this caused me still lingers….

One thing the aforementioned update seemed to have fixed was the flaky
crashes Safari mobile was quickly becoming infamous for. However, the
Apple and/or Google developers don’t seem to have cracked the code on
the same problem occurring regularly in the otherwise glorious Google
Maps app even now by the 3rd software update.

The only other issue with Google Maps on the iPhone is how much more
intuitive it would be with a back button. There are times where you
simply can’t (easily anyway) get back to what you just searched. The
email app has this button so why can’t GMaps?

One thing Gmaps and email have that the contacts portion of the phone application could
sorely use is Palmesque contact filtering. I am almost certain that
Apple is choosing not to make this option available due to UI
aesthetics though. They would prefer we scroll for our contacts and
it is very neat and minimally less efficient than filtering (and
depending on where you’re looking in your list sometimes more so), but
I would like the choice nonetheless.

With regard to the Jobs promise that the phone app would be the
killer app on this device, I have to say I largely agree. Aside from
the need for some way to speed dial more easily (double tap of the home button helps but an icon on the home screen would be perfect) it is otherwise a true
joy to use. Apple seems to have borrowed and beautified the phone
application from PalmOS largely, and I much prefer it over the phone
apps from any of the other mobile OSs. If only the call quality were
as good as the Nokia N70 I used for a few months, or the Treo 700p (when
it didn’t crash during a call of course), or the Blackberry 7100 I
borrowed from my wife regularly or even the many HTC Windows Mobile
devices I’ve used over the last few years, which though similarly
challenged in terms of call quality, were still a little better than the iPhone.

And one more gripe: lack of copy and paste functionality on a device
so capable of so many things makes it’s omission more frustrating than
it otherwise would be I think.

So what do I like? Gosh where to start is a dilemma because so much
about iPhone experience is so good. However since web browsing is
what I do most, I’ll start there, but in a another post….stay rss tuned.

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