Initial thoughts on my new iPhone


As mentioned, I got myself an 8GB iPhone yesterday. It was quite the experience… long lines, clowns, and hyperactive Apple employees who ran around the block whipping the crowd into a frenzy, and applauding and cheering everyone entering the store. It was actually a lot of fun. Apple did a great job at expressing their gratitude for those willing to brave the lines.

So, what do I think of my new iPhone? Overall I love it! But, I do have some fairly big complaints about it as well. Let me be perfectly clear though… none of these complaints made me regret getting it. I am anxiously awaiting some software updates from Apple though.

I’m going to run down each of the iPhone’s main features (for top to bottom), to give a quick overview of what I think of each.

iPhone SMS

SMS – It works. I rarely text so this doesn’t mean much to me. But I do like how it organizes all of the messages into threads (It looks like iChat).

iPhone Calendar width=

Calendar – The calendar is a huge disappointment. Basically, it sucks. For starters, there’s no week view. There’s only List, Day, and Month. Personally, I like a week view and I can’t understand why Apple would leave this out.

Next, there’s no way to search the calendar. This is a must-have feature, at least for me. As of this version, if you forget what day an event is on, you’ll have to just scan the calendar looking for it. That totally bites!

If you use iCal, you know that you can set up different calendars for different types of events… home, work, travel, etc… You can also subscribe to other people calendars. Turning the calendars on and off is a great way to filter the content, and can make it much easier to keep track of things. As far as the iPhone is concerned, there is only one calendar. Even though it can sync all of your calendars, it can’t tell the difference between them. When viewing your calendar on the iPhone, all events look the same. If you create an event on the iPhone, it won’t sync back to the proper calendar on your Mac. All iPhone created events get synced to a single (definable ) calendar in iCal.

In all of Apple’s recent demos, they pretty much glossed over the Calendar, and now I see why.


Photos – Great! love how photos work. I love the whole pinch zooming in and out, slideshows, flipping between photos, etc…

iPhone Camera

Camera – The camera works well under ideal conditions. It needs A LOT of light. If you don’t have a lot, your pictures will probably be blurry. Outside, on a sunny day, it should be fine. But indoors, even in a relatively bright room you have to hold it very still, and your subject can’t move.

The camera takes 2MB (1600 x 1200) pictures. But, when you email them from the iPhone, Mail automatically scales them to 640 x 480. This is NOT configurable. To get the full size images off the iPhone, you need to sync with iPhoto. On a side-note, the iPhone has to be active (unlocked) when you sync, or iPhoto can’t see the images.

iPhone YouTube

YouTube – Works great! Love the YouTube app. Just make sure you’re connected via Wifi or you’ll be waiting all day for them to load. You can bookmark, or email links to the movies. Can’t wait till they expand the catalog of available movies.

iPhone Stocks

Stocks – Seems to work… I don’t really care about this feature. I wish I could remove it.

iPhone Maps

Maps – I’ve only briefly tested this, but so far it works great. The only thing I noticed is it doesn’t always hold the zoom level when switching from map to satellite.

iPhone Weather iPhone Clock iPhone Calculator

Weather, Clock, and Calculator – Really not much to say about these. They work as you would expect.

iPone Notes

Notes – Notes is a bare-bones note taking app. It works, but it’s not all that powerful. The notes are realistically the equivalent of Stickies. I haven’t found any way of syncing them back to my computer, which reduced their usefulness.

iPhone Phone

Phone – With all that the iPhone can do, the actual phone is pretty average. Sound quality seems OK, but volume level is a bit low. This is hard to review since I’ve only been using it for a few hours.

iPhone Mail

Mail – Love it! Love it! Love it! It really is like real email. But, it does have a few flaws. First, like the Calendar, there is no search function. This is a big bummer. Mail can also be a bit tricky if you’re using it with multiple accounts. From a message compose window there is no way of selecting which account your are sending from. The way it works is you define a default account. If you click on an email address in an email, the address book, or Safari, the resulting email message will be sent from this default account. You can’t change that. The only way to send from a specific account is to go into Mail, select that account, and then hit the compose button. A way to switch accounts from within a compose window is another must-have as far as I’m concerned.

I’m also having trouble sending email while connected through AT&T Edge network. My email accounts are configured to use my ISP outgoing mail server. This doesn’t work through Edge. I haven’t found a way around this yet. I also haven’t tried sending email when connected to a WiFi network other than my own. This needs more testing.

Mail seems to do fine at viewing various image formats, PDFs, and Word files. But, keep in mind that you can’t save an attachment. You can only forward it. The iPhone doesn’t have any kind of navigable file system, so it has no mechanism for saving files. With this limitation, I think IMAP is the best choice for mail. That way you’ll always have a copy on your computer as well. If you use Pop3, you may have confusion later, on which device your email (or attachments) are on.

Also, I could have sworn that in a previous iPhone demo Apple showed Mail as having an option to have the email list on the top portion of the screen, and a preview pane on bottom (like Apple’s desktop Mail). Maybe I’m not remembering correctly, but I can’t find any way of doing this.

iPhone Safari

Safari – I’m lovin this too. I’ve only tested it on a handful of sites, but it’s the best mobile browsing I’ve seen. It’s not exactly like desktop Safari, but it’s pretty darn close. Ironically, a site I created with Apple’s iWeb is the least compatible site I’ve tried.

One odd thing about iPhone’s Safari is you don’t set a homepage. It always just goes to the last page you visited. I didn’t understand this until Anne Marie said that it may be because if you’re browsing and you decide to make a call, or change your tunes, you would want Safari to be where you left it when you go back. This makes sense as the iPhone would have no way of determining if you were done browsing, so sending you to a homepage when you activated the browser could mess you up.

Also, one thing that you may have never thought about, is Safari has no way of downloading, or uploading anything. For example, if you just snapped a picture with the built in Camera, and you hoped to upload it to your photo sharing service… you should give up that hope, at least for now. Safari can’t interact with any kind of online upload form, because it can’t access anything on your iPhone. This is a bit of a bummer. For me, it means I won’t be blogging from my iPhone as much as I would like to. Technically I can blog through WordPress, in Safari, but I can’t have any images in my post, unless I’m linking to an image that is already online somewhere.

This version of Safari doesn’t support RSS. See this post for more info.

The final complaint About Safari is it’s lack of Flash support. I think it’s only a matter of time before this is added.

On a side-note about Wifi and Edge… Wifi didn’t just work as Apple would have you believe. It did take some configuration and trail and error to get it working properly. Much of the trouble was with how I have my network configured though. I am a little disappointed on the strength of my Wifi signal. It’s a bit weak sometimes, even if I’m standing right next to my router. I haven’t tried joining another network yet. When I leave my house the iPhone seamlessly switches from my network, to edge, and back again without me doing anything.


iPod – Lastly, is the iPod. What can I say.. it’s awesome! It works exactly as advertised with both audio and video. I can’t wait until the full iPod works like this.

My Conclusions…

Although I think the iPhone has some flaws… some major ones in the case of the Calendar and the lack of any kind of search function (where’s Spotlight?), I’m generally very happy with it. It may not be what everyone is looking for, but I think Apple definitely raised the bar in handheld devices. Not just in functionality, but with the stunning interface of the iPhone. It really is beautiful, and easy to use. Oh, and as far as the digital keyboard goes, I find it relatively easy to use. But, I will say it will probably take some practice to get really fast.

In terms of some of the flaws that I pointed out. I’m actually expecting a sizable software update from Apple in the near future. I think they were under the gun to get this out on time, so they made the decision to drop a few things. I’m betting that some of my complaints are already being addressed.

UPDATE (7.01.07): According to Apple Insider, many of the updates I want are due to be released prior to the release of OSX 10.5, Leopard.

Off to the Apple Store I go…

I’m off to try my luck in the iPhone line. From what I hear it’s pretty long. Wish me luck!

UPDATE (7:26pm): hee, hee, hee… I got one! It was quite the experience. I’ll be writing more about it later. I’m off to get some Friday night booze.

My new tees

Insanely Great Tees

I’m a big fan of cool t-shirts, and I’ve been eyeing these two shirts from Insanely Great Tees for a while now. I finally broke down and bought them today, as it’s about time to retire some of my other shirts.

Flow – a better ftp client?


ExtendMac is in the process of developing a new ftp client for the Mac called, Flow. It’s currently in private beta, but the screencasts available on their blog look pretty good. This may be software that I take a closer look at once it comes out of beta.

I’ve been using the unofficial industry standard, Transmit, since the OS9 days when it was called, Transit. Transmit works really well, but I’m afraid it’s gotten a bit stagnant in recent years. There are things I have been waiting forever for, and they just never seem to come.

What’s your ftp client of choice?

via The Apple Blog

Are you buying an iPhone?

OK, this will probably be my last post about the iPhone. Well, at least until tomorrow.

I’m just curious… who among you is planning on actually buying one? Will it be the 4GB or the 8GB model? Are you going to try your luck waiting in line at an Apple / AT&T store tomorrow, or just order it online? If waiting in line, how early are you willing to go?

Please, do tell.

Personally, I will almost assuredly be buying an 8GB model. My super-fabulous girlfriend gave me Apple gift cards for Christmas, and my birthday, specifically for the iPhone. Even though they only announced them in January, I’ve been waiting for at least 5 years now. I’m not sure if I’ll be standing in line or not. I’m going to head down to my local Apple store tomorrow afternoon and check out the situation.

By the way, Apple will start online sales at 6:00pm (PDT) tomorrow. Unlike the physical stores, the east coast doesn’t get a head start. We’ll all be shopping at the same time.

If you are planning on buying the iPhone at one of Apple’s retail stores, either tomorrow or next week, you may want to bookmark Apple’s iPhone availability page. Apple will update it every evening, and you can theoretically get accurate information after 9:00pm, on if your local store has them in stock.

UPDATE (2:20pm): My girlfriend just called. She walked by the Apple Store while at lunch. The line is already forming. I bet it will be massive by tomorrow night. :(

Apple’s RSS Reader for iPhone?

iPhone RSS Reader? width=

Is Apple preparing to announce an RSS reader for the iPhone? There’s definately something going on over at, but it’s kind of hard to tell exactly what it is.

I personally would love a dedicated RSS reader. RSS is by far my preferred method of getting updates to my favorite sites. If Apple does announce an RSS reader, it’s a good bet it will sync with your RSS bookmarks in your desktop version of Safari, which would be unfortunate because Safari is a terrible RSS reader (at least for my workflow).

Hey Newsgator, I’m going to be looking at you to give me a way to sync my NetNewsWire feeds with iPhone!

I’m sure all will be come clear tomorrow.

via TUAW

UPDATE (6.30.07): Now that I have an iPhone I can tell you what this is. It is an RSS reader, but not quite like I expected. If you’re browsing the web on your iPhone, and you click an RSS feed link, you’ll be directed to this site so you can view the feed. Basically, Apple did not build RSS functionality into the version of Safari that’s running on the iPhone. Their solution was to redirect you to a web app that can read the feed. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the .Mac service. Nor is it any kind of feed organizer. I’m betting a future version of Safari will have RSS support built in, and this site will go away.

WordCamp ’07


Are you going to be in the San Francisco Bay Area on July 21-22? Are you a WordPress user? Then you may want to check out WordCamp 2007. Its a 2-day conference for WordPress users and developers.

I went last year and had a great time, and learned lots of new stuff. I’ll be going again this year.

Last year WordCamp was free, but this year they’re charging $25 per person, to help offset costs. Personally, I think it’s well worth it. You get 2 days of great information, a cool t-shirt, and free food. Where else can you get that for $25?

If you planning on going, I would sign up soon. The hall isn’t tremendously big, and as of this morning, 124 people have already signed up.

80GB iPhone?

iPhone capacity

In the previous post I mentioned that the iPhone will be activated through iTunes. Apple has posted a step-by-step video demonstrating the process of activation and syncing.

While watching the video, I noticed that the capacity listed in the syncing demo is 74.4GB (that’s really 80GB). More than likely this was a graphics goof while making them demo. They used an 80GB iPod. But, who knows… maybe there’s an 80GB iPhone just around the corner.

iPhone service plans and activation

If you haven’t heard, Apple has announced the service plan pricing structure for the iPhone. They’re actually a little more reasonable than I expected them to be. More info can be found here.

“iPhone goes on sale at 6:00 p.m. (local time) on Friday, June 29 and will be sold in the US through Apple’s retail and online stores and AT&T retail stores. iPhone will be available in a 4GB model for $499 (US) and an 8GB model for $599 (US), and will work with either a PC or Mac®. All iPhone monthly service plans are available for individuals and families and are based on a new two-year service agreement with AT&T. Individual plans are priced at $59.99 for 450 minutes, $79.99 for 900 minutes and $99.99 for 1,350 minutes. All plans include unlimited data (email and web), Visual Voicemail, 200 SMS text messages, roll over minutes and unlimited mobile-to-mobile and a one-time activation fee of $36. Family plans are also available.”

Apple has also said that you’ll activate your new service through iTunes, so you don’t have to wait in line at an AT&T store. More here.

On a technical note, Apple is saying that you’ll require OSX 10.4.10 (or a PC) to activate your phone. It’s unclear if this requirement is just for activation, or you’ll need to be running the latest version of OSX just to use an iPhone. If that’s the case, a lot of Jaguar and Panther users are going to be pretty pissed.