Thursday, July 5, 2007

iPhone after almost a week's experience

Several people asked me to follow up my previous posts about the iPhone again after I'd used it for a little longer, so here's just a quick update before I leave for a week's vacation tomorrow. My overall verdict on the iPhone is definitely a big thumbs up - while of course you can list plenty of features it's missing and lots of areas for improvement, it has so many great features and usability innovations that it's a real pleasure to use.

A few high points:
  • The general user experience is great
  • Web browsing - especially once you get used to the user interface and learn a few tricks, it's amazing how usable this is on a device with such a small screen. At first I was mainly zooming using the "pinch" technique, but on watching the "iPhone tour" video again I realized that double-clicking zooms you in to the specific area of the page where you double click (so in a page with multiple columns, it will set the display to the width of the column you click on). Though one drawback I hadn't thought about until Dave Stewart from the Microsoft Virtual Earth team mentioned it is that safari intercepts all double click and mouse move events in order to bring you this functionality, which is an issue for many browser based applications (especially mapping ones).
  • Google maps - my concerns about the local search implementation notwithstanding, it's still very useful and fun in a lot of situations. I was just in bar talking to a friend about my upcoming drive to Vancouver, and he said that he thought that the drive from Vancouver to Whistler was one of the most spectacular that he had done - but we got into a discussion about whether you could just drive on from Whistler to Jasper or would have to backtrack, and in a minute or so Google Maps on the iPhone had resolved the question for us (you can just continue on, so this is added into my plans). And at lunch today I was in a coffee shop and decided to search for local restaurants and look at their web sites, to see how easily I could check out their menus and decide where I'd like to go - this did work pretty well, as each search result included a link to the restaurant web site (and no bogus results were returned in this case)
  • The Photo, iPod and Youtube applications are all great
  • WiFi support - so far I have been using this most of the time, and get great performance and don't use up minutes on a plan, etc. This will be especially useful when traveling abroad, as the mobile phone companies all really burn you on charging for data over the cell phone networks, so being able to use WiFi will be great.
  • It's a chick magnet at parties (my girlfriend Paula's description, not mine!)
Some of my top areas for improvement:
  • Add a GPS, of course
  • Improve local search, as I discussed previously
  • While the general user experience is great, there are a lot of areas where they could leverage some of the new techniques but didn't. Automatic rotation of applications into landscape mode is one area I would like to see leveraged a lot more. This is used to good effect in the web browser, which I almost always use in landscape mode as things are much more legible. And it is great in the photo and iPod applications (see the video). But when I'm in mail and I get an HTML formatted email, this is just like looking at a web page and would be far superior in landscape mode, yet this is not supported. As I mentioned previously, maps does not support this when it would be such a natural thing to do. And also, the keyboard is much wider with larger keys when in landscape mode, so it would be great to leverage this in situations where the focus is on data entry - for example in the notes application, or when composing an email, both of which only work in portrait mode. And there are some odd inconsistencies - both photos and maps support the notion of panning and zooming, and both support the same pinching technique for zooming in and out, and dragging with your finger to pan. But in maps, you double tap to zoom in and tap with two fingers to zoom out, whereas in photos, double click will either zoom in or zoom out depending on the situation (which is the same as in the browser). Maps also needs to support the typing auto-correction - it seems to be the only application which doesn't. These sort of things should really be ironed out.
So anyway, overall I'm very pleased with it still.

1 comment:

Orenhg said...

It's interesting to compare it to openmoko based phone...