iPhone notes

iphone I’ve had my iPhone less then a week. Here are some observations

  • fring is a key app. It connects with your regular phone address book as well as your Google Talk, Skype, AIM, Yahoo Messenger, etc. It allows you to receive messages from the chat clients even while the app is closed via push (there are apps for Google Talk, Skype, et al, but they only work while the app is open), so you’re always online. And fring lets you call your regular phone contacts over WiFi when you’re in a hotspot, so you save your minutes.
  • There is a weird secret trick that lets you get a couple of hundred zany Japanese-schoolgirl-style emoticons.
  • The packaging is just absurdly luxurious, like opening something from Tiffany’s in the Matrix. Activation was also stupid easy — download iTunes, punch in phone #, zip code, and the last 4 digits of your social, and you’re done.
  • The industrial design is a little of a split personality — slick glass and metal front, crappy plastic back. My old phone had a rubberized metal exterior that was much nicer.
  • The app thing is just ridiculous. You download them from your computer or from the phone itself, and there’s an app literally for anything you can think of. RunPee tells you when to go pee without missing an important part of your movie. Pandora and last.fm give you customized radio stations on the go. Yelp shows you nearby restaurants sorted by how well users rated them. RjDj is something between a musical instrument and a game that I can’t even begin to explain. Google Earth gives you an alien/god’s view of the planet. Live stock markets, weather radar, twitter, the locations of all your friends. And games. Oh, the games.
  • On the other hand, certain things are not as easy as they should be. I wanted a special e-mail account for on the go, but getting the iPhone to recognize it took quite a bit of fiddling, and it still only receives new messages when I’m in the mail app (it’s supposed to receive notifications). And this guy figured out how to sync Google Calendar with the iPhone’s calendar app, but it’s an ugly hack (and, again, I haven’t gotten it to work yet). Reports of “everything just working” on Apple have been somewhat overstated.
  • Because lots of the apps you end up using are free and ad supported, there’s something somewhat surreal but extremely futuristic and slightly dystopian to the whole experience.
  • Yes, you can make a ringtone out of any mp3. But you do it with a slightly shady desktop program.
  • Because of licensing bullshit, yes, you can play Tetris on it, but it’s a lamely dolled up and overcooked version of Tetris, and it costs a shocking $5.
  • On the other hand, while the Wall Street Journal website is the last bastion of for-paid online content, the free WSJ-created app lets you read the whole newspaper free (for now).
  • Battery life is abysmal. If you want to go a whole day on a charge, you need to ration your use.
  • As nice as the apps are, lots of them speak to the difficulty of the internet on iPhone. This isn’t necessarily the fault of the Safari browser — there are just limits to how usable a 3” screen is for the web, so lots of sites are more usable through dedicated apps than directly.
  • Whatever. Phone calls sound good, and you can sync Google Maps to your location with one button and look up anything anytime. I’m happy.