24 hours with the iPhone

24 hours with the iPhone

Last night we had a wonderful dinner at MCL (probably my favorite place to eat here in Richmond). After dinner I started showing my father-in-law Tom my new iPhone and some of the features. He was pretty amazed at the fact that we could get online and check the status of an eBay auction. As I went through the features I was struck by the fact that we were sitting in the middle of a restaurant and surfing the internet, checking email, getting driving directions and many other cool webby things, all without the faux pas of using a notebook computer in such a setting.

I left Thursday morning and drove to the AT&T store in Muncie Indiana. It was the closest place I could find that actually carried the iPhone. The company I work for offered to purchase the phone for me so I was off to pick it up and get it setup right away.

The features of the iPhone have been discussed ad nauseum and frankly I’m tired of hearing all of the feature overviews. What I will say is that The iPhone is an incredible device. It’s the first gadget I’ve ever used that actually exceeds the hype and marketing surrounding it. What’s so amazing about it? Everything works exactly as you might expect. The interface is so clean and simple and inviting and even for a person like myself with large hands it’s easy to navigate around without hitting the wrong buttons.

Here are a few of the things I’ve loved about the iPhone that I didn’t expect:

  1. It brings new value and enjoyment to apps already on my computer
    I’ve always used iCal and Address Book for managing events and contacts, but neither was an app that I used every day. The fact is that I wanted a way to access that information even if I wasn’t on the computer. Until I didn’t have a way to do so. Now if I create an even in iCal and set an alarm it’s transferred to my iPhone and I get a friendly little sound when the alarm is triggered. My contacts are all synced to the iPhone and are instantly accessible with the tap of a finger. I’m especially excited about the ability to have a nice photo of all of my contacts that is displayed any time I receive or make a call to that person. Very cool indeed.
  2. Truly usable portable video player
    I was pretty skeptical about whether or not I would actually want to watch a movie on a screen that’s 3.5 inches wide. However after spending some time watching YouTube videos, podcasts and even portions of feature-length movies I have to say that I enjoy it very much.
  3. Data syncing from iPhone to computer
    I never got into the whole PDA thing (maybe because my life was never complicated enough to warrant having one). However, now that I’ve got the iPhone and can quickly and easily add an event to the calendar, a contact to my Address Book or even purchase songs from the iTunes store I’m wondering how I ever lived without that ability. I thought of a song I wanted to purchase from iTunes and since I wasn’t near the computer I decided to purchase it on the iPhone. Once I returned to the computer and docked the iPhone I was happy to see that the purchased song was transferred to my music library instantly.
  4. The keyboard is actually nice
    I’ve got big hands. I was somewhat worried that the small, touchy keyboard in the iPhone would be a little too small for me to comfortably type on. Much to my surprise it’s actually wonderful. I don’t do the whole double-thumb express just yet but I get by pretty quickly using a single finger. I’ve been updating Twitter, replying to emails and surfing the web (including filling out forms, wow) with ease.

Here are a few features I’d love to see on the iPhone in the future:

  1. Voice activated commands
    My free LG phone from Verizon allowed me to call a contact in my address book by simply saying their name. As far as I can tell the iPhone doesn’t have this ability, however I think it’s reasonable to expect that feature in the near future.
  2. One touch speed dialing
    I would love to be able to display the keypad, hit the number 1 and have it automatically call my wife. Again, a feature that my LG phone had that seems absent from the iPhone. The favorite contacts list is nice but it’s a little difficult to use if you’re not looking at the phone.
  3. A more robust iTunes mobile store
    Don’t get me wrong, the fact that I can purchase songs with my phone is awesome. Since I had never owned a smart phone before now this isn’t something I ever expected to have on a portable device. However it’s obviously a very watered down version of iTunes. From what I’ve seen you can’t access/subscribe to podcasts, preview/download music videos or movies or tv shows and I believe audiobooks are missing as well. I know that most of these are high bandwidth items but it would be nice if they were at least available if someone wanted to purchase them. How cool would it be if you could order a movie on your iPhone and when you returned home you find that it has been downloaded to your computer/Apple TV?

So, in short the iPhone is wonderful. I’m so thankful that my employer was gracious enough to allow me to get one and I can’t wait to start developing for it!!! Have an iPhone? I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you like and what improvements you’d like to see.

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