Sunday, August 24, 2008

The iPhone: One Month In 

My Razr was old. No, it wasn't just old, it was pathetic and slow. I'd managed to resist the BlackBerry all this time, but I knew I wanted and needed mobile email. Leaving Verizon, the only mobile provider I'd ever had, wasn't a proposition I looked forward to, but as an Apple loyalist, the writing was on the wall: my next phone had to be an iPhone.

Being first on your block is fine, as long as that oh-so-lofty status comes easily. (The Dead Kennedys said it best: give me convenience or give me death!) If it means camping out with a lawn chair and the complete works of J.K. Rowling to pass the time, don't you know that you can count me out. Plus, it was virtually guaranteed there would be a few technical glitches out of the box, and it turned out there were. So I waited till the hailed new device had been on the market for about 12 days, and only then did I finally go to Apple's Fifth Avenue store to make my move.

At that point, the store had a new system that--true to the company's usual form--worked. Instead of making everyone wait on a seemingly endless line, you could stop by and get a voucher stamped with a time of day to come back and get on line. On a Tuesday, I swung in around 12:30 p.m. and got a voucher for 5 p.m. Perfect. I waited about 45 minutes on a line inside the store, and then the purchase and transfer of my phone number took another 20 minutes. I was in business. Now it's been a month and here's what how my iPhone has been treating me.

The App Store. Nicely complimenting the built-in programs like the surprisingly great Maps are the add-ons available at the iTunes store. Though there are at least as many misses as hits, such handy free downloadables as Urbanspoon (for restaurant suggestions), Baseball (stats for every pro team for every year since the late 1800's), and a simple Spanish phrasebook are incalculably cool. On the paid side, the iTrans PATH application which tells you when the next train is coming in each direction at each station--truly a quality-of-life issue when it's late and the trains are few and far, far between--is probably the best $4 any Hoboken or Jersey City resident could spend.
The on-screen keyboard. What seemed like a potential downside has actually proved to be one of the easiest features to use. It only took a couple days to get used to the little QWERTY keys that pop up.
Voicemail. Can't beat the convenience of choosing which voicemails to listen to and in which order.

The camera. Takes quick and good quality snaps, but there's no zoom or flash.
Push email. Great if it works for you. Not-so-great for my main email account, for which I had no idea I'd need to switch to a new provider in order to get push email.
The iPod. Oh yeah, it has an iPod.
AT&T. More bars in more places my ass.

Text messaging. It's so scandalously bad it's hard to know where to begin. Other than the lack of picture messaging, I knew nothing about the iPhone's SMS limitations when I signed up for this thing, and they are legion: in addition to the lack of picture messaging, you can't send a text to multiple recipients, you can't forward a text, and you can't save a text in draft. I mean, it's 2008. There is no excuse.


It's a great device. Once the text messaging debacle is fixed, it will be the ultimate device. For now, it's still a major upgrade from my old phone.

P.S. Regarding a recent blog post, looks like I'm already back to using Oxford commas...

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