The Pros and Cons Of iPhone

Mickey Dustspeck
May 25, 2008

I have had my iPhone for about 4 months, and I use it happily, although not everything is as it should be. There are various things about the experience that prospective owners may find of interest:

P/C Description
Pro It's pretty rugged, easy to carry in a pocket, and it only has one edge-button (edge buttons SUCK)
Pro Portable internet access with the unlimited data plan. Nice to be able to check email at a traffic light. Don't laugh. Nice to be able to check Yahoo Webmail when my wife can't remember what her friend told her to get at Sears, by email. Nice to be able to read Wikipedia or anything else when my wife is shopping.
Pro Large video capacity. If you can figure out how to encode files for it, you can have hours of TV shows in your pocket. This comes in handy when you are, for instance, waiting 45 minutes for a table at a restaurant, while your wife is shopping. I sometimes now volunteer to wait in line for something, because it's the only chance I get to watch TV. I encode Tivo exports for iPhone with PSP Video 9 and VideoLan Media Player. I have found that files that I had previously encoded for PSP are playable on iPhone. Also, my brother-in-law's Sanyo C4 records MP4 videos that are drag-n-drop compatible with iPhone.
Con Proprietary headphone plug. Apparently, this isn't the case with iPod, although I've never seen one up close (no, really), but iPhone's plug has more conductors in it. For a long time, I didn't even know that I had a solution in the box, as on Day One, I tossed the little cradle thingy back into the box and ignored it for a long time. Apparently, it has a "line out" hole on the back, which it gets from the proprietary 30-pin connector (which should have been a USB hole). So if you go get the little cradle out of the box, it may turn out to be useful, after all.
Con External interface is iTunes. Dear Benevolent Almighty God, how I hate iTunes. Great Powerful Saviour Jesus Christ and His Mom Mary and Step-Dad Joseph, how I hate iTunes. And I hate syncing. Does anyone like syncing, 'cause I really hate it. Holy Father Moses, Elijah, and Elisha, blech. It's always up to no good. Why can't I just drag the files I want to where I want them, instead of trying to conceptualizing this whole syncing thing? Furthermore, the iPhone (or iTunes, or something) won't allow you to "Sync" with more than one "Library". This is of course, to save you from yourself, lest you be tempted to step around DRM. Phooey. Of course, the world at large is tempted to step around DRM, but a large portion of us hate DRM because it punishes innocents for playing nicely. Why, in fact, are the vast majority of us required to deal with multiple identity mechanisms in operating systems, something that is useful a minority of the time, and yet prevented from using our $600 phone with our home AND work computers, something that happens quite a lot? I should also probably mention that I hate iTunes.
Con Helpful autocorrection. In a user interface that pretty much requires you to watch your fingers as you type, an auto-suggesting typo correction that by default uses its suggestion if you don't say no, is WRONG. There are numerous similar things in MS Word, and other programs that shows you suggestions, but the suggestions are abandoned if you don't say OK. The suggestor should not auto-correct if you don't make the gesture to accept. Plus, where is this word list from? I'm a network engineer and programmer, and I frequently use technical terms -- like "TCP" for instance. Left to itself, the iPhone will correct "TCP" to "TVP". I don't even know what "TVP" is -- nor do you I suspect. I would have thought that TCP would be recognizable as the world's most popular transport layer protocol, but it's apparently not in their word list. Worst of all, you can't turn it off. I am certain that whatever typos would get past me are more comprehenisible that the crap iPhone inserts on my behalf. I pray that this is fixed soon. Not the functionality of it, but the option to turn it off... The auto-suggestion is really a tacit acknowledgment that the interface isn't very good. They had to make this up because they couldn't make the touch interface work satisfactorily. UPDATE: when you try to enter the word "shell", it corrects it to "she'll"... I should probably mention that I hate iTunes.
Pro/ConThe touch interface. It's cool because the interface and the display share real estate, and there's no stylus. Let's face it, Palm Graffiti, and in fact, the original Apple Newton's stylus-based input, just aren't very good and are only amusing when you're reasonably drunk. A viable handheld interface is yet to be implemented, although I found that I liked my iPaq 4355 built-in keyboard better than any other handheld interface. It was certainly the most workable. The iPhone is better than fumbling with a stylus, and when they get the helpful auto-correction TURNED OFF PLEASE, it will be much much better.

Anyhoo -- the touch interface and the auto-rotation in Safari* is charming for a couple of days, but I really would like to be able to turn off the rotation.

ConNo Apps. Apparently the Apple App Store ($$$) is coming, woop-de-do. The bright spot in upcoming iPhone 2.0 appears to be that the calculator will include functions that one doesn't routinely do in one's head. That's good. But why did my $600 phone not at least come with solitaire? Don't even mention "Web Apps" -- I want to play it on an airplane. Solitaire or something, anything would be better than what Apple gives you.

Mostly because Apple gives you nothing. I guess I'll check the weather again. Oh, it's still sunny.

* Apparently you can download Safari for Windows. I nearly died laughing when I saw this -- just in case you're so happy with this little nothing web browser that you want to use it instead of IE or Firefox. OK, whatever.