It’s always made me crazy that phone experiences aren’t better integrated with the desktop. On the desktop you have the space to manipulate large data sets and UI elements very easily and quickly.
There have been feeble, wretched attempts made by Nokia and Sony. I’m disappointed with the integration Apple has offered so far with the iPhone via iTunes. It’s extremely limited and frustrating. The new Mobile Me interface seems promising, but I’m not holding my breath that it’s what I want.
In the video below, Google demos the type of customisation that I’m looking for. At about 3:30 they show how you to customise the phone experience through a desktop interface. Just drag-and-drop content and UI widgets to your phone. Finally somebody has done it right!
I’ve previously mentioned my antipathy for OSX. It’s been two years since I made a go at switching to a Mac. I can’t say anything major has changed with the Mac since then. What has changed?
My Vaio has become unacceptably sluggish
Adobe apps now run properly on the Mac
There’s no way I’m going to use Vista
Most of my work happens in a browser, so the OS is secondary
But perhaps the biggest factor: my iPhone. The iPhone has really made me lust for more. More luscious details. More speed. More fun.
It’s now been about 5 weeks since getting my hands on Darryl’s old iMac 24″. That’s 3 weeks more than I endured last go round! Many of my previous gripes still linger. Like the inability to maximize app windows. Font rendering. On the 160 dpi iPhone type is stunningly gorgeous. Font rendering on the 72 dpi Mac is a sad imitation, often resulting in butchered illegible type that makes my eyes bleed. I really don’t understand how type purists delude themselves so relentlessly.
Lucky for me, I have a couple Mac die-hards sitting nearby who have been showing me all the secret five fingered key commands, hidden settings and special software that makes working with a Mac tolerable.
So far, the best thing about being on the Mac is…
The beautiful bright screen
The beautiful visual design details like sublime: gradients, drop shadows, translucent windows, and animations
The beautiful hardware
Networking is finally acceptable
It’s fast and stable, unlike my experience 2 years ago
Overall, I’m happy with the Mac experience. I certainly don’t think it’s flawless. But the speed, the lickable graphics (in spite of the type rendering) and the hardware win me over. I admit that it’s starting to make my eyes hurt whenever I go back to using Windows.
There does seem to be an interesting correlation between the increasing number of iPhones and Macs at Xero. Everyone seems to be switching. Even Grant switched.
With the abject failure of Vista, the mainstream switch-to-Apple tipping point is truly upon us. Jobs is well on his way to resurrecting Apple from the dead, while Microsoft have dug their own grave.
Fifty or a hundred years from now I suspect history will smile broadly on Jobs as a monumental business and cultural icon, while reflecting on Bill Gates as a one-time antagonist in the Steve Jobs story.
This past weekend a small contingent of Xeroes headed up to Warkworth for the annual geek pilgrimage that is Kiwi Foo Camp.
When you roll with Rod anything can happen. This time, on the drive up from the airport to Warkworth we took a quick little detour to do some skiing at Snowplanet. For those of you up north (northern hemisphere), February is a great time of year to go skiing. Down south, it’s the height of summer. Snowplanet is an indoor ski field.
It was absolutely awesome. I didn’t want to leave. When we came out into the hot, humid baking sunny day the utter surreal-ness was intense. Admittedly, the whole time I had a dirty nagging feeling that my carbon footprint was off the charts.
Which made it especially interesting to meet Ian Wright and see his presentation on saving the planet (while going obscenely fast) in his electric car, the Wrightspeed X1.
My takeaways: If you have a late model car that gets 35mpg then you really aren’t a significant part of the problem. In LA, those cars output cleaner air than they take in. It’s the gas guzzling SUV’s and light trucks that are the real killers. Turning those into hybrids can make a very significant difference. That’s Ian’s ultimate plan.
My takeaways: Get your ass on a plane and spend time in your target market. Get in front of the key players and stay in front of them. Just remember that hype does not equal money in the bank.
Nat, the organiser of Kiwi Foo, ran a session on teaching kids to program. He shared his experiences with Scratch, I shared some of my experiences working with kids using Flash and various other people piped up with their experiences using other tools and methods. I came away glad that I’m not the only one who’s underwhelmed by Mindstorms.
My takeaways: Tech ed is wide open and yet to be cracked. I’m very interested in being one of the people to crack it.
There were a whole lot of sessions that I really regret missing, especially one on Meraki. It looks like people are starting to bring Meraki here to NZ. Wellington is ideally suited for it. That would certainly help fulfill my prediction that mesh networks catch on in 2008.
On Xmas-eve-eve-eve, Emory and I went to town to get some final stocking stuffers, then we looked for ways to enjoy the beautiful sunny day. Emory was super keen to do some rock climbing, while I really wanted to go out kayaking. Emory climbed up every wall, then pulled himself up a hanging rope all the way to the roof, 12 metres up! Afterwards, we kayaked out to Oriental Bay, stopping to get some gelato at Kaffee Eis.
Sadly I won’t see my photos from Emory’s climbing. Or anything from the rest of the afternoon. The iPhone never saved any of the hundreds of photos I took. And I’m pissed. (The only reason I got some photos from kayaking is that I decided to use my K750, for fear of dropping the iPhone in the harbour.)
Googling around to figure out what happened I came across this post from Jeff Zeldman. It turns out that it’s a known bug. It seems that the problem occurs if you regularly delete photos off the camera. Wow. That’s fucked. And from what I can tell, Apple hasn’t been doing anything about it, let alone responding to people on their support forums. Note: This is happening to non-hacked phones.
In the forums people seemed to find a way to fix it. Albeit, a time consuming, painful fix. I used a variant of the fix and I thought things were sorted.
Nope. I lost heaps more photos today. This is a deal breaker for me and the iPhone. I’ll use it as an iPod and a web tablet. But I’m really devastated that it’s not the great 1.0 device I imagined it to be.
I’m really praying that the next update has a fix for the camera (and let’s me actually make calls). Jeff??!
My beloved K750 has crapped out on me. It’s not beloved anymore.
To replace it, I almost bought the N95. Then I played around with it. It has a killer feature set, but it’s extremely expensive and it has the absolute worst hardware and software design. It’s pitiful. For half the price I got the iPhone. Thank god for that.
The iPhone is almost certainly, as my friend Wayne put it, the best 1.0 product ever. I’m really dying to know how they pulled it off. How did they manage to design such a refined user experience in a 1.0 – without news of the phone’s details leaking?
I say that even though my version of the iPhone lacks the ability to make or receive phone calls, text messages, or email/web on-the-go via GPRS!! I can NOT wait until they work out the crack.
So what’s to love?
The drop dead beautiful UI design and hardware. That’s obvious just looking at screenshots, but using it is far more impressive.
The touch keyboard works extremely well. I often use one hand to type and I’m definitely much faster typing on it than a standard mobile keypad. Admittedly, I was never one of those hyper-thumb freaks.
The speed of the interface. It’s incredibly responsive and smooth. Just like Macs, putting it to sleep and waking it up is instantaneous.
The photo quality is very good. I thought the K750 took decent shots, but the iPhoto pix are significantly better (however, I do have some gripes about the camera).
The apps (calendar, maps, notepad) are stunning. Purely from a UI design perspective it’s beautiful. The interactions are very quick and very smooth, with nicely anticipated shortcuts and navigational details.
I can’t transfer songs from different machines. WTF?! That’s absolutely fucked. That is just stupid, lame and IMO really cripples the device.
Camera controls. The thing I used most on my K750 was the camera and the MP3 player. Same goes for the iPhone. The K750 definitely had better hardware controls for both. The iPhone is sorely lacking a hardware camera shutter button. The touch screen shutter is awful. It’s the one time I desperately need tactile feedback and precision. The touch screen sensitivity doesn’t always work and that is maddening when you’re trying to capture a split second moment. It also could really use auto-focus and a macro. Plus, they need to move the lens – my finger always shows up in photos!
Audio playback controls. The volume buttons are great, but I also need controls for play/stop and next/previous without using the screen. I know the Apple headset has those controls on the mic clip, but I don’t use Apple’s headphones and that controller isn’t so elegant anyway. My K750 would do next/previous by holding down the volume up/down. I wish the iPhone did the same. For play/stop it should use the camera shutter button I want added. Finally, scrolling through long audio files like This American Life episodes is hellish with the scrubber. Here’s a great suggestion from Chris Fahy: an on screen jog dial for scrubbing audio.
The wifi reception is really weak. And it doesn’t always activate automatically.
As I mentioned, the touch sensitivity is not always reliable, which can be pretty maddening sometimes.
The predictive text is terrible and it always messes things up. I wish I could just turn it off.
I constantly want to use the home button as a back button in the iPod
Here’s an idea: Wifi syncing. Duh. I’m sure they must be working on this.
What I miss from my K750?
The LED light. It was ostensibly the camera flash, but I used it mostly as a flashlight and reading light. It came in super handy on many occasions, especially camping.
The radio. I expect a radio will be available on future iPhones. It’s really nice to listen to the radio sometimes.
I won’t miss…the flimsy/broken connector jack, the flimsy/broken thumbstick, the flimsy/broken camera shutter button.
The iPhone is definitely giving me Apple love. I’m still not quite compelled to switch to a Mac. I’d really just love to use my iPhone as my primary OS. If I could connect my iPhone via wifi to a big screen and keyboard then BAM…I’ve got my pocket computer that has most my data in the cloud and acts as a Web OS client device.
I wanted to avoid adding more noise to the iPhone echo chamber, but resistance is futile.
The iPhone makes for a jaw dropping demo.
The demo site is also beautifully done. The day of the launch I was slobbering and blubbering when I saw it.
It has (almost) everything I want: camera, mp3 player, email, web, and…oh yeah…voice calling. In that order.
When I saw that it has no buttons a big smile came across my face. The biggest frustration I have with my beloved Sony k750 are the buttons – the joystick intermittently goes off in a random direction and the camera shutter button craps out regularly. I think the lack of buttons isn’t as important as people are making out. I look forward to it.
Making and receiving calls is what I do the least on my phone. I mostly shoot photos and listen to music. In terms of communications, I probably use email the most, both reading and writing, followed by texting and least of all calls. I don’t talk on the phone very much mostly because of the extortionist voice prices in NZ, but also because I hate talking on the phone. The mobile version of Gmail is fantastic. I use Opera Mini all the time to read Stuff, the NY Times, get the weather, get the train schedule, and occasionally Wikipedia when the kids ask me something I can’t answer. I also use the flash as a reading light. The k750 truly is a magical wonder device.
On the down side
Having WiFi would be great, but I think 3G might be more useful, particularly here in NZ. The iPhone voicemail demo is nifty, but it’s still so crippled. The Telco carriers are fools for not maximising the value of voicemail. I’d be willing to pay extra to forward voice messages to my email, like I did with jFax years and years ago.
Maybe somebody will build an app to do that. Oh. Right. The iPhone is Steve’s personal closed platform. Shame, that. Still, it could be fun developing widgets for it.
One thing that I’d miss from the k750 is the radio. I really do enjoy tuning in to National Radio and Radioactive.
Like most people, I was disappointed by Apple TV. Mostly because I expected there to be a seamless integration between the iPhone and the iTV. It makes so much sense to have the iPhone be a remote for the iTV, as well as being a way of presenting media from the iPhone onto your TV.
The size of the iPhone might be the biggest sticking point for me. It looks pretty fecking big, but it’s always hard to say until you hold one. I used to haul my Palm in my pocket for years. Hell, I even managed to force my Newton in my pocket a few times!
Phone from the future (if the future is 1992)
Speaking of the Newton, it is interesting how in many ways the iPhone isn’t that much further on from the original vision for the Newton. It was 15 years ago that I was at General Magic, the step-brother of the Newton, working with Tony Fadell (lead engineer of the iPhone) on my Mediaphone concept. Note the buttonless touch screen…
It was 12 years ago that I did some work on the original Apple iTV. And it was 7 years ago that I worked on a Wifi prototype that had an mp3 player with social networking communications and digital payments. It’s inexcusable that we’re still waiting for mCommerce.
My point? OMG, it takes forever, really forever, for new technology to hit the street. The iPhone is not a futuristic device. It’s an extremely old device that’s been promised for years and it has only just arrived from ye olde future. A guy could get old waiting for these future technologies to arrive.