In case you were wondering, yes, on Friday I stood in line at an Apple store and bought an iPhone.
Hands On Review, iDay, 4 Days Hence
In short it’s exceeded nearly all of my expectations. It’s hard to keep the darn thing in my pocket it’s so fun to play with. The media functionality and Google Maps integration seem particularly well executed, but nearly every interface shows polish and attention to detail. The screen is not only extremely scratch resistant, (I was worried prior to getting it in my hands) but without doubt the best one I’ve ever seen on a portable device; the touch-based interaction is fun and intuitive. I even love typing on the non-keyboard.
My software experience did get off to a bit more of a rocky start. I had to reinstall iTunes even though I had the latest version, but after that I was off to the races with a smooth activation and transition to my new phone. (I was lucky apparently.) Syncing has been effortless, and I’ve got a full feature length movie, a few hundred photos, all my usual podcasts and a dozen albums loaded on my iPhone with plenty of storage to spare. (I, like most people, opted for the 8GB version.) Battery life has been much better than I expected, but that stat could always be better couldn’t it? With my current usage I’ll need to charge it every other day.
There are a few things I’ve found lacking however—divided into three sections—things I think should have been included from the get-go, apps I’d like to see on the device, and finally things that are most likely on the horizon but that’d I’d love to see in iPhone some day.
What Should Have Been in the Box
Email is the only way to get photos off your device besides syncing. It’s a pinch to send email with photo attachments with iPhone, but why not be able to do it via SMS as well?
- Video and Audio Recording
The 2MP camera included is performs well and has a great interface—but why no video capabilities? Why no audio recording through that mic?
Text messages are organized just like iChat’s, but that’s no replacement for a true IM client. Why no iChat?
Custom ringtones tend to drive me crazy, but I know many people love them. Why isn’t there a way to purchase ringtones through the iTunes store? What happened to that tab? (It’d be great if you could create your own, but I know that’s never going to happen.)
What I’d like to See
- More Widgets
More Yahoo! widgets just like the weather widget. Apple could release pre-approved widgets, and allow customization of the home screen without even offering a full SDK.
- Standalone RSS App
I’d love a full RSS reader, as opposed to Safari and web-based solutions.
- Flash and Gears
Safari, though it’s a great implementation, in general could use a bit more versatility. Flash would help. Gears could would too…allowing offline functionality in web apps.
I’m pretty sure that DS thing—that other thing with a touch screen—is doing pretty well.
The above widgets, games and apps all could be realized with an SDK or some sort of an Apple controlled iPhone app ecosystem. (I brought up the “walled garden” question when the phone was announced.) Though Steve Jobs made the case at WWDC that web 2.0 apps address this need that’s at best just a stalling tactic. Right now I think they’re just nailing down the basics, and for all the fun games / apps / widgets we’ll have to wait a while. That’s what will really unleash the power of this device.
For the Next Gen?
Make those GMaps (and everything else) really location savvy. The possibilities are endless.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised with my EDGE performance. Then again, I haven’t used it much.
Time to finally cut those white earbud wires? I think so. A firmware update could uncripple the iPhone’s bluetooth.
The aforementioned SDK would really open up the iPhone world. Once the platform is solid enough that stability isn’t an issue I think we’ll see widgets, if not full blown apps right behind.
Video Conferencing? iChat AV on the go?
Now I’m reaching a bit further. Initially the whole lack of a video camera and true iChat functionality confused me—but then it dawned on me—does version two have a video camera—facing the user—for live mobile video conferencing? If it doesn’t I think it should.
My initial experiences with my iPhone have been extremely good. For me it has completely lived up to the hype. I’ve peeked into nearly every nook and cranny of the device and really put it through its paces. I’ve had only one app crash thus far, and every person I demo it for is genuinely blown away if not stricken with pangs of jealousy.
I can part a crowd of techies with a marimba chime, but more telling I think was the incredible demographic diversity I saw at the Apple store on Friday when I made the purchase—a huge variety of people, all sick and tired of disappointing devices they have to use on a daily basis. For them, and me, Apple has solved a problem.
Similarly, the future looks bright for the platform as a whole. When an SDK, 3G , GPS and maybe even video conferencing hit this handheld it will be even more of a show-stopper than it is now.