Sunday, January 27, 2008

iPhone out-of-the-box

I purchased an iPhone on Friday, and so far I'm really liking it. The ease at which I'm getting up-to-speed with it way surpasses my typical OOTB experience with consumer technology. I'm starting to feel that it probably lacks the ability to customize and personalize that I'm beginning to look for; but after only 2 days with this gadget my jury is currently out as to whether keeping the ability to customize minimal (or maybe hidden - I've yet to to find out) has greatly contributed to making the product so user friendly for initial use.

Image by Rugby 471

Here are a few of the things I've loved so far:

o I didn't have to activate the phone in the store
This improved my user / customer experience immensely! And the activation once I got the phone home was easy.

o Using my iPhone is fun
It's bright, interactive, fun - a pleasure to use this phone - I keep getting it out to play with it. That's such a change from my past experience of cell phones (my most recent prior to this being the T-mobile Wing), which I eventually just wanted to hide back in the box and hit with a big hammer.

o It has an unlimited dataplan
How cool is that! I love that it never needs to inform me and make me feel guilty about how many megabytes I've downloaded :-)

o Google Maps
It comes with Google maps and is partly GPS, as it picks up my location. That was a really fun thing to first see on my phone and successfully use (I found Green's restaurant in SF with it, and got some great lunch there).

o Google Apps
It works with various Google apps well - I have put Google Reader, Google Docs, Picassa Web Albums, and Google Calendar to be accessible from my 'home' screen.

o Email accounts
Setting it up to receive email from my 3 accounts was a breeze.

o Interaction
The interaction style is mostly intuitive, e.g. turning the screen, sliding my finger over the screen to see my additional web pages etc.

o Security passcode
It was easy for me to create a passcode for data security.

Here are some things that are have caused me some issues over the last two days, and which mostly continue to do so:

o Interaction
Some parts of the interaction don't seem all that easy, for example, after 2 days I'm still having difficultly zooming in on some web pages - they just don't seem to want to zoom, and some websites are so heavily embedded with links I keep navigating to new pages, rather than zooming.

o Volume
I'm disappointed that I need to turn the volume fully to the top for calls. This seems to be a common thing that people are disgruntled about.

o Contacts
From reading around a bit I've learned that it's impossible / pretty difficult - I'm not sure which yet - to take contacts from an old SIM card to get them on the iPhone. I have a set of 350 (completely different) contacts in the old Palm Desktop app on our Windows machine at home. By reading on the web I realized that I could export these in vCard format, and import them into the Apple Address Book on my Macbook. That all worked surprisingly well - but this was a long contact list, and many of these contacts are not required on my iPhone, so I created a new group in Address Book called iPhone. Then I plugged my iPhone into my Macbook in order to get the interface up that lets me edit my syncing options. I was looking to uncheck the box 'automatically sync', and also edit the info on the Info. tab to only import my 'iPhone' group from Address Book. ... But too late - the good rule-following computer did what it was supposed to do and downloaded everything. So now I have 'All' contacts and a subset of these called in a group called 'iPhone'. I want to delete the 'All' group from my iPhone; but there doesn't seem to be a way to do that. This person has the same problem.

To fix this I tried to delete the 'All' group in Address Book (a pain; but I reasoned that I could reinstall it afterwards); however, deleting it I found out, also deletes those duplicated addressed in my 'iPhone' group. 'Edit-undo'. So my planned work-around doesn't do the job either. Anyone?

Update: I decided to delete all my contacts in my Address Book in my MacBook, then sync my iPhone taking me back to square one - no contacts. I de-selected automatic syncing on the iTunes syncing 'summary' tab, and selected to sync only the iPhone group on the 'info' tab. Then I imported the vCard contacts into Address Book again, and re-created my iPhone group, and then did a sync with the iPhone. It's better - I now have two groups on my 'iPhone': 'All and 'iPhone' which seem to contain the same addresses. It's a waste of space to have this duplicate set though, and again I'm wondering how to delete a group.

o iPod
All our (i.e mine and my husbands joint) music is on our Windows machine on my husband's drive. He has it all in iTunes on that machine and there's a lot of music that we've accumulated over the years. It's a non-obvious procedure how to get any of this music on to my iPhone. I've been syncing my iPhone with iTunes on my MacBook. My iTunes on my MacBook has only 1 album in it. I can get to our complete set of music via the 'shared' folder in my iTunes app, that my husband has made available. It won't sync. stuff that's shared - which is quite reasonable though frustrating for me. It seems that Apple doesn't really cater to people who, in every other way but legally presumably, jointly own music.

o Transfer of Financial Responsibility
This is not an iPhone technology issue; but an AT&T customer service (and therefore user experience) issue. So far I've been given three phone numbers and have spoken to two reps... here we go...

Update: Latest phone call with customer care rep told me I have to return to the store, where I complete a form, and then make another call to customer care to tell them I've done so. ... this is starting to negate Apple's good work in enabling online activation...

o Sound defaults
It came with sound for email delivery enabled, and so succeeded in annoying my husband through the first night while I slept peacefully through!

o It's a gadget cool enough for my eight year old son to be envious
That should be on the 'good' list right? Well yes - but it's hard to keep his hands off it. Still, he was pretty disappointed to learn it doesn't come shipped with games - although I didn't tell him about the nicely bookmarked 'kids' websites that are provided.

Here are some of the things that at first glance haven't seemed completely obvious to me; but are on my list to find out how to do over the next few days:

o Choose / create icons for the pages / apps I've added to my 'home' screen - currently the images of webpages all look pretty much the same.

o Customize the home screen - arrange the order, hide to a 'second level' some of the default apps that appear there.

o Work out what 'favorites' is all about and the best way to use 'favorites'.

o Sort out the 'contacts' issues detailed above.

o Sort out the iPod / iTunes issue detailed above.

This journey of getting to know my iPhone has been an enjoyable experience so far - that's how getting any new gadget should be; but rarely turns out to be. More interestingly the iPhone puts people in a position where, for the most part, they should be able to understand the issues that they are running into, and have the language to go investigate them - for example "How do I delete a group in mt contacts?" All too often in getting new gadgets like this the issues encountered have turn very technical all too quickly, rather than containing themselves in the space of some sort of logical problem-solving that non-geeks can understand and work through. Technical issues that loose people in jargon and geek-speak also cause interest to wither very rapidly, as well as the desire to spend time making the gadget at hand actually work. And so they get relegated to the 'cables and crap' draw. So this time as a consumer I'm thrilled, and I'm looking forwarded to being able to do more and more with my iPhone over the coming weeks.

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1:18 AM  

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