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June 30th, 2007

Ten Minutes with an iPhone

Yesterday was iPhone Crazy Launch Day. People sat in line for days for the opportunity to buy a $500 or $600 piece of plastic and metal that requires a two-year commitment and a monthly outlay of at least $60. Clearly, in twenty years, we’re going to wonder what this was all about (and hopefully Ryan’s kid can provide some insight here at the Ping.)

That all said, I was at a mall last night that had an Apple Store. I was there a good while after launch time and was able to – get this – just walk right in and use an iPhone. Sure, other people had the same idea and I had to wait. But once I had it in my hands I thought, “This is what everyone was waiting for… and I didn’t spend $500 on it. Go me!”

So, the iPhone! Is it great? Is it not? The answer in my ten minutes with it is that it is mostly great. After less than 20 seconds with the thing, scrolling through its songs, I knew I wanted one (darn it.) The scrolling mechanism, which works by flicking one’s finger, is smooth and even has the amount of friction one would expect if one was actually flicking a big list of things. I know, I do that all the time.

I didn’t call anyone on it (doh!) so I can’t speak to the phone quality.

I did play with Safari (web browser), Google Maps, and YouTube in addition to the iPod features. Safari is quite impressive. To zoom in on a part of the page, you pinch it. At first it seems alien. The load speed for web pages is of course dependent upon the cell phone network and to that end I can tell you: it was noticeably slow at times. I watched Yahoo!’s front page load like I was on a modem. I attribute most of that to the fact that everyone in two time zones was using their iPhones simultaneously, maybe.

Safari is the best web browser I’ve used on a cell phone; there are no compromises. It acts and looks like the real thing and that is damned impressive.

Google Maps works beautifully, and the way the map’s pushpins fall onto the screen is a nice touch. Pinching works again here. The level of detail continues to amaze me: I was looking at cars on the Golden Gate Bridge with this. Good thing it doesn’t have Street View (yet?)

YouTube didn’t work for me due to network issues. Opps.

And the iPod stuff? I can actually say I don’t think I’ll miss the scroll wheel when this interface takes over. Having the video play in widescreen is a huge benefit, too (ask a PSP owner) – it’s lovely.

The screen was bright and gorgeous. No scratches but lots of fingerprints. And the on-screen keyboard took a bit of getting used to for sure – the curious placement of the delete key, all punctuation on a separate virtual keyboard – but I didn’t have any problems with it after a few minutes.

The problems? I’m not going to spend $500 on one, so I must wait; and, I want it to hold our entire movie and music collection, which would fit on a 20GB iPod. 8GB won’t cut it. It’s really too bad.

All in all, though, using an iPhone is like using a device from the future. I am extremely impressed.

Posted in Technology

Ken July 3, 2007, 6:31 am

It is amazing, this is such a giant leap for the phone industry. Have you read about the cell phones in north (maybe south) Korea? They can do anything on them. It is so difficult for America to advance because the technology on the towers all over the country must be updated before they can add on to the phones. The technology for 3G (cellular internet) has been around for years, but we are now seeing it in action. North Korea can advance technology because it is the size of most states and the machines can be upgraded in 6 months, but it takes years to upgrade all the towers in America.

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