Sunday, November 18, 2007

The iPhone is beautiful but nasty

Finally I could get my hands on the Apple iPhone and check it out for one day. I must say that I am not that overly impressed like others commentators. The iPhone is a real multimedia machine, a true Apple product: fancy, with sharp pictures and fat sound. But it's definitely no Jesus phone. It does some things that I am really missing on my smartphone, like seeing every Youtube film. But the iPhone also full of small bitchinesses, like a spoiled starlet.

Youtube lies behind the goggle box

To see Youtube I just tip on the icon with the old TV set and it starts directly. Unlike other smartphones the iPhone delivers the entire Youtube on the screen, not just some handpicked films, like the mobile version for Symbian does. That's great because Youtube is Television 2.0 where people decide for themselves what they wants to see. The editorial preselection on my Nokia smartphone is always wrong with it's recomendations.

On the iPhone I just enter my search word and as result I get as much films like on my desktop PC. The only problem is that the virtual keys on the touchscreen are much too small, which makes me commit many typing errors. The picture quality is great, due to the high resolution display with 160 dots per inch. To fast-forward the movie or to stop it I just have to grab on the display to make the necessary buttons appear. I did that until the fat fingers on the screen seriously inhibited my Youtube pleasure and I had to clean. The landscape format gives you a real TV feeling, especially if you like cartoons. But I don't understand why the picture stayed in landscape mode when I put the phone upright. I love the iPhone feature which makes the entire screen turn when you move the phone in this direction.

Youtube fat fingers on the iPhone
Youtube fat fingers on the iPhone

Wifi is convenient but uncomfortable

However it's indispensable to have fast Wifi internet access for Youtube. With EDGE I had to wait eternally even for websites, when I played around with the iPhone in the Berlin subway. On my 3G smartphone I am used to read the latest news there without any problems.

Of course it's great that the iPhone automatically logs into every Wifi network that it has used before. But setting up a new hotspot is horrible. The iPhone finds the network's name very fast, but then follows the input of the password which in my case consist of lower case letters, uppercase and numbers. On the damned iPhone I could only choose between uppercase an numbers. A friend of mine had the same problem when he checked the iPhone at home. The arrow key for uppercase and lower case has no effect. I just couldn't enter any lower case letters. To not go entirely nuts, I finally had to chang my Wifi password so that it consisted only of numbers. A passnumber, so to say, which I could enter easily. But that's not very safe. That's why I chose a new Wifi password directly after the iPhone test.

Cool Cover Flow

The iPhone obviously wasn't made for security savvy techno geeks, but for design fans. They will surely love such cool effects like the cover flow: Turn the iPhone into landscape format, while listening to the music, and wipe over the shown record cover. It makes the covers of all stored songs rotate until your next favourite tune appears. Looks really fancy and works better than Windows Vista, where such graphical effects often bring the entire computer to its knees. When I change from cover view to list view, the cover rotates and disappears in the backgroung. Looks quite spacy.

Fat sound, but only for expensive earphones

Also the sound of the iPhone is great with Apple's small white earphones. It's cristal clear and banged my eardrum quite hefty when I pumped up the volume too much. Too bad that these white squits always fall out off my ears and I cannot use my own earphones with the iPhone. As soon as I connect them the entire iPhone goes silent. The phone doesn't work with every earphone because Apple moved the plug more inside the device. I already have great headphones from Philips which make me look like a DJ. They have cost only 3 Euros in a department store, cover my entire ear and have a great sound too. When they get broken I will buy new ones. That happens every few months because the cables are thin, also the iPhone's. Only for the iPhone squits it's really expensive to buy new ones: at least 40 Euros at Gravis, Germany's biggest Apple dealer.

iPod and iTunes are not the same on the iPhone

To listen to the music the iPhone has two buttons which have similar names but do different things: iTunes and iPod. The first one is to buy music and the second is to listen. The iPod button hides all the functionalities we already know from the iPod MP3 player: playlist,album, genre, artist and all that stuff. Nothing has changed and that's OK since I don't have to learn anything new.

The easiest way is to use the iPhone like an iPod: organize everything beforehand in iTunes and then just synchronize it with the iPhone. But before I could to that, I had to update the iTunes software again. Nearly every week it asks me to do so.The 63 MB download and the installation took nearly half an hour this time. Again it was very important to switch off the automatic synchronization in iTunes, before plugging in the iPhone, and to use the cell phone as an external hard disk. If not, all the music had disappeared that my friends had bought and downloaded before. The laptop computer had it just overwritten.

iTunes also works wirelessly

I also could have avoided the synchronization process, because iTunes works nearly completely as a standalone application on the iPhone. But only nearly completely. I could have searched through the entire Apple music store from the iPhone and I could have bought songs over Wifi or the EDGE mobile phone network with just one click. The last used iTunes ID comes as a preset, you just have to enter the password to finish the purchase.

But why of all things the free podcasts cannot be downloaded with the mobile iTunes version? They are my favourite feature. Unlike in the PC version you just get albums and titles for sale as search results. It would be so great to download the latest TV newscast over the air to the iPhone and see it on my way. At home I never would have time anyway.

At the end I was really happy when I could download my favourite podcast to a laptop computer and synchronize it with the iPhone: Dance Department, number 112. One hour of finest electronic dance music. Every week another world famous DJ spins the turntables. This week it's Ferry Corsten who also did great remixes for Moby and U2. The download is free of course. My favourite iPhone button is located at the bottom right of iTunes. It's name is "Further". When I touch, it all the content comes in neatly ordered: albums, audio books, compilations, composers, genres and also podcasts. That way I can find my favourite programs easily.

But I had to look for this button quite a long time.

1 comment:

  1. Well keep in mind it's a 1st gen phone. All I can say is I want one. Every time I get a chance I go to an Apple or AT&T store to try the phone. I hate my Palm phone and I will not miss it when I replace it with an iPhone.


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