At Thursday morning’s BatchBlue communications meeting, I was presented with a shiny new iPhone. You know… a boy does have to test his web apps, right? Well, I’ve been testing the unit out quite a bit—particularly (as I expected) Safari. I just wanted to toss up some notes from the first two and a half days.
- Size was… pretty much what I expected. A slightly taller video iPod.
- As for the price, having the company foot the bill softened the blow. But I have to say, it was going to be purchased anyway after seeing how shockingly reasonable the plans were.
- I got the 8 GB version. As the boss said, “I wouldn’t do that to you.”
- I love that it picks up wifi when I’m at home.
- EDGE is slow, but not painful (though this is coming from a guy that had dialup at home for years longer than most).
- The part I have to admit—Safari has crashed about five times (seems to happen with GMail and JiveTalk (which is in alpha, so that may be it).
- The iPod also stangely crashed three times while trying to get through one podcast episode. No other iPod crashes, though. Odd.
- Kinda expected a weaker antenna, but worth noting that my MacBook can connect to my wifi in the backyard. iPhone has to use EDGE.
- The keyboard is a bit daunting at first, but I’ve already gotten a lot better at it. You have to do what they say and let go and trust the autocorrect.
- Battery life seems adequate. I’ve only either lightly used it or heavily used it, so I’ve either barely touched the battery or strained it quickly. Still, I haven’t dropped below half. I’ll report more on this with more use.
- One of the big complaints people have is the omission of copy/paste. This is a very valid complaint. I’d love to just be able to select something and copy it. Of course, the interface doesn’t even have selecting at this point. It is a problem they will have to solve.
- I’m a big two-finger scroller on the trackpad of my MacBook. The iPhone scrolling actually works in the opposite manner. On the MacBook, you move your fingers downward to make the page contents move up (meaning you are looking below the current content). The iPhone metaphor is that the content goes in the direction your finger does. Takes me some time to get used to that going from device to device.
- Safari is really the #1 reason I got it. I want web browsing without lugging a computer.
- The zooming is extremely smooth. Really crisp text makes reading a breeze.
- One of the main reasons I wanted it was for RSS feed reading. A LOT of reading. It’s really not bad at all for that despite the size.
- I use Newshutch for RSS reading, though, and that may be an issue. Safari on iPhone has no scrollbars—to scroll you use one finger. To scroll a scrollable div within a page, you use two fingers. Newshutch recently made both columns into scrollable divs. Nice touch on a full screen, but if you are zooming to read text on a mobile device, it is a royal pain in the ass to have to deal with the scrolling divs.
- Also some advice for Newshutch is that the “mark as read” button at the top of a post should not only be visible on a rollover (no rollover on iPhone). That feature would be far more handy at the top of the post.
- Might have to switch to a different reader now that I’ll do most of my reading on iPhone.
- BatchBook runs great so far. Only one issue that I’ve noticed (one scrollable div doesn’t work with the two-finger trick).
- iPhone also overrides your minimum width in your CSS. So, some pages are thinner than they are meant to be and that can cause rendering issues.
- I’ve only noticed one site that served me a mobile version without me asking—redsox.com. I visited m.twitter.com on my own. Wishing GMail had a less heavy mobile version (it does have an app, but you can’t install those on iPhone). I may have to try out the HTML only version. See if that’s more lightweight.
- One complaint a friend had about the “JesusPhone” was that it had no IM ability. However, JiveTalk has been awesome. I can connect to AIM and GTalk using that now. That’s going to be incredibly useful. Just in alpha now though.
- When a web site doesn’t have a “Remember Me” checkbox, there’s no way to save passwords. Kind of a pain in the butt considering all the special characters usernames and passwords (should) have.
- Out of curiosity, I surfed over to some links to mp3 files. Safari played the mp3 files in a nice media player within the browser. Tried with some mp4 video. Said Safari couldn’t play it. (I thought standard Safari would, but I just checked and it downloads mp4s. So, I suppose this is as expected.)
- Number two reason I wanted it.
- Imported my IMAP work account without a hitch.
- I really like the interface of the inbox, messages, new messages, etc.
- Don’t have my other IMAP mailboxes available, so things I’ve archived I can’t get. This also means I can’t clean out my inbox on the go.
- Wish the write new message interface would switch to landscape like Safari. Would make the buttons much wider for someone with big honkin’ thumbs like me.
- First YouTube search I did was for “Arcade Fire”, since I know they have a ton of cool stuff on YouTube. Was treated to a gorgeous quality version of Keep the Car Running.
- However, it seems just a handful of YouTube videos are actually in the iPhone format. Total bummer. Many searches I would expect many hits for yielded nothing.
- Can’t wait my own videos I uploaded to YouTube.
- Perhaps they are converting them over time? Other wise might not be that useful a widget.
- Just wanted to throw this in there because it is slick, fast, and zippy… just like the Dashboard widget.
- Surprisingly, not my top use for the thing. I think I’ve made three phone calls or so and received about three. Nice keypad, though.
- Also not a big SMS guy, either. But I sent a couple messages. Interface to type is what you’d expect. Messages show up as iChat bubbles. Very nice. I’ve got 200 of these things a month. Might as well use ‘em.
- Wow, video is sweet on this thing. Loaded up the “Joe Carter game” from the 1993 World Series. Scrubbed to a random point and saw my beloved Pete Incaviglia make a catch. Beautiful quality. Watched one of my own TWML video podcasts, too. Very nice.
- Audio is slick, too. Coverflow is wow-inducing. I’ve still only uploaded a few albums on here though.
- Tried to play some podcasts from it in the car today. Apparently it must use some sort of different headphone jack, because a 1/8″ to a tape deck didn’t work.
- The number one most amazing and useful thing about the iPod features—the thing has a freakin’ speaker! Nolan is big into music to appease him, so it’s been nice to have Travis or Death Cab with me at all times to play for him if he gets fussy. Makes sense that a phone has a feature, but to have it for the iPod was something I hadn’t considered.
- Very slick slideshows, advancing animations, and rotation.
- Photos look beautiful on the large, bright screen.
- I find that when I sync, it keeps wanting to import photos to iPhoto that I’ve already imported. Just telling iPhoto to not import duplicates works, but it keeps asking me.
- I saved the camera for last so I can post some samples. First of all, the viewfinder is the WHOLE FREAKIN’ IPHONE SCREEN. So, it’s basically so enormous that it is shocking.
- It ain’t quick. Ella has often turned around by the time it takes the photo.
- 1200 x 1600 from a phone? What more can you ask?
- Tough getting used to how to point it. Doesn’t feel natural at first, especially in portrait mode. I’m getting used to it.
Some photo samples (click for larger versions):
Low light is a bit grainy, but really not too bad.
Nice focus and sharpness here. This was taken from inside Ella’s playhouse, looking at her outside the door.
A couple photos, like the one above, seemed oddly stretched. She’s skinny, but not this skinny.
Finally, this is the one that blew me away. This is Ella running, taken by a cameraphone. Please take a look at the full size version. Look how sharp this bad boy is. Very impressive.
I need to preface this with a couple things, though. First of all, I’m the person this device was made for. I’m a Mac Geek. I make web apps and need to test them on all browsers and devices. I don’t make a ton of calls or send SMS messages (so the minimum plan was good for me). I’ll use the unlimited data until they’re upset they let me have unlimited. I’ll use this from the couch just so I can hold Nolan while getting stuff done.
There are some issues, of course. The crashes were bummers. Copy/paste is really needed. An Apple-created IM app would probably be more robust.
But overall, this thing is sweet. Not only was it worth my boss’ money, it was really worth my own if I had to do it. I’ll have to write more when I find some web apps that work really well with the iPhone. It should be fun hunting for those gems.
Update: I posted my iPhone Second Impressions.
Update: With the first iPhone updater, all my IMAP mailboxes are now available. Sweet!