I’ve joined a cult – the iPhone cult

My AT&T Tilt gave up the ghost last week (you should see the screen — it looks like something Jasper Johns might have painted) so I decided to take the plunge and replace it with an iPhone.

The decision was pretty straightforward, really. If this year’s SXSW and GDC did nothing else, they convinced me that the iPhone’s a legit gaming platform and, to keep current, I need to know what’s going on in that space. Plus, everyone I know is joining the iPhone club and I’ve been feeling a little left out.

So I’m now in Day 4 of cult membership and, I have to say, though the experience has been largely positive, I have mixed feelings about my new digital pal.

One the plus side, as a phone it’s really pretty rockin’. The call quality is terrific and I seem to get better signal strength than I used to, even though I’m using the same provider and going to all the same places.

As an internet device it’s amazing. I feel like I’m really web-surfing for the first time ever on a phone.

As a game platform, it’s swell. I already have more than a screen of games of high enough quality that, if I were Nintendo, I might be a little bit concerned. And the ease with which I’ve been able to acquire those games (along with a bunch of cool apps) is astonishing — the App Store is everything online commerce should be and usually isn’t. If I’m not careful, I’ll go broke — a buck here, a buck there adds up quickly.

As an entertainment device, the iPhone is as cool as everyone says it is. That screen! It’s beautiful (at least it was for the first three hours I had it, before it got all thumbprinty). Movies look great. Pictures look great. Music sounds great. Books — hm, nice, but I’m spoiled by the Kindle.

(A brief aside — anyone who thinks the iPhone is a great ebook reader hasn’t played with a non-backlit e-ink device. There’s simply no comparison and people should just stop talking about how the iPhone’s going to make the Kindle and devices like it obsolete. This Will Not Happen.)

E-book lameness aside, the iPhone is really remarkable, if what you’re after is seamless connectivity and constant distraction.

However, as a “smart phone,” at least as I use smart phones, the iPhone actually seems kind of dumb.

For the longest time, I was a Treo guy. If not for a falling out with my service provider which doesn’t warrant discussion here, I’d STILL be a Treo guy. After that, I became a Tilt and Blackberry guy. And I’ll tell you right here and now, no virtual keyboard can match real buttons. The iPhone comes as close as anything I’ve tried and it’s not remotely comparable.

The iPhone’s inability to sync with Outlook Notes and Tasks is deadly. I use Outlook’s Notes and Tasks functions as brain-extenders and have a hard time living without them (especially Notes).

The fact that I can’t create and edit Office documents is causing me amazing grief already. The fact that I can’t seem to just get a list of documents I have stored on my device is totally weird. And I’m really having a tough time to adjusting to what seems to be a complete lack of menus that allow me to do things like Select All from a list of emails or documents and such like. I mean, I get that Apple and Microsoft are enemies, but hurry up and get iPhone OS 3.0 out there so people can start making some real productivity apps for this thing!

It’s like the iPhone is working so hard to be my friend it’s incapable of being my co-worker. It’s all fun and games when, at times, I want it to be serious. Still, there’s enough to like that I’m trying to stay calm and make do. Until 3.0 comes along and MS Office or Documents to Go or QuickOffice or something becomes available, I’m messing around with Evernote and a couple of other note-taking apps that seem promising. And I’m experimenting with Google Office for document, spreadsheet and presentation work. It’s too early to say if this’ll work, but I’m trying — really trying — to embrace the iPhone.

Right now, the device is feeling a little “emperor’s new clothes-ish” to me — amusing but not necessarily what you want in a ruler, and everyone’s too afraid of looking un-cool to say anything. I hope I’m wrong and come to love my iPhone as unreservedly as the rest of my fellow cult members. I hope it’s just too early in this relationship to be reaching any conclusions.

I hope that’s the case. For now, if you can help me learn to love the iPhone (as opposed to just liking it pretty well), lend a hand. If you’ve found games you absolutely love or apps you can’t live without, feel free to comment and let me know about ’em! And if ANY of you have found ANY way to get an iPhone to sync with MS Outlook Notes and Tasks, PLEASE let me know — that’s just killing me.

7 Responses to “I’ve joined a cult – the iPhone cult”

  1. mtureck Says:

    “(A brief aside — anyone who thinks the iPhone is a great ebook reader hasn’t played with a non-backlit e-ink device. There’s simply no comparison and people should just stop talking about how the iPhone’s going to make the Kindle and devices like it obsolete. This Will Not Happen.)”

    A great ebook reader? No.
    A convenient one? Yes.
    As nice as the e-ink devices are, they fall under the category of “one more thing to carry around.”
    What I love about the iPhone is that it takes all the junk I’d want to have on me at all times, iPod, phone, camera, GPS, books, etc., and puts them into one device.
    I simply don’t want to carry around another device, especially one that can’t fit in a pocket, if I don’t have to. And the iPhone Kindle app means that I don’t have to. Want to? Sure…I’ll probably end up getting one to keep at home when the price drops…but I don’t see it as a need.
    I don’t see the e-ink devices as going obsolete, but I do see them as keeping a niche status as long as there are more convenient ways to get the content.
    As a side note, the eBook companies need to do a better job of getting their devices seen. As you said, there’s nothing like seeing one in person for the first time, and Amazon really needs to get the Kindle into a retail store if they really want the sales to explode.

    As for must have apps, I’d start with Bookworm, a Boggle-ish find the word game that you’ve probably played on other platforms.

  2. dominuz Says:

    hehe, i just bought myself an iPod Touch (basically is an iPhone but without the phone function), i bought it because its a very potent gaming platform and right now I’m doing iPhone games at work 🙂

  3. lemurly Says:

    I was just given an iPhone touch by my school district so that I can evaluate it. I’m going through a soul-searching process because I WANT one really badly, but I hate that apple has such draconian control over hardware and sofware. At any rate, I want one. So, crap.
    Further, Warren, I second your assertion that ebook readers’ primary struggle is that people try them. They’re great. Now, despite having to put up 25 grand out of pocket for in vitro, I’m trying to find $250 for an ipod touch and $350 for a Kindle 2 (or 1, as you suggest). That is how revolutionary, important, and forward-thinking that these two concepts (not just devices) are.

  4. tehplums Says:

    Hi there, ol’plums here.
    Brief quiz. What looks like a smartphone, feels like a smartphone and oddly smells like a smartphone but clearly isn’t one… Still it has certainly brought the bar way up on what the average user can do with their phone.
    Gaming-wise I feel that there really are a few diamonds in the rough, although one requires commando training and long sharp things to get through all that rough. Galcon is amazing although the balance is a off in multiplayer as the distance between the 4 players is not equal due to the shape of the screen. Newtonica 2 is incredibly original (Newtonica 1 is a very different game,) Subway/Subway Shuffle is the smoothest and most accessible puzzle game I have ever played and Zen Bound looks the most fun one can have wrapping something in rope outside a bondage parlor. All of which play and feel natural with touch. I also think Wolf3D works very well with the controls set like a console fps. I also believe that’s only due to Wolf3D’s slower pace. When they release Doom the controls will be a hindrance.
    I haven’t tried it myself but Toodledo/Todo looks like a promising albeit not ideal solution to your outlook problems.

    Oh and a quick nod to Google Reader on the iphone. Instant access to everything I actually want to read, anywhere and simple like. I’m tingling.

    plums out..

  5. wspector Says:

    I’m liking the iPhone better each day. Still wish it had a real keyboard, but Evernote is an absolutely fantastic app (no, I’m not a spokesperson) that I actually prefer to Outlooks Notes in a lot of ways. And I’ve now had the pleasure of reading a Kindle book on a train when my Kindle was back at the house. And the seamless email and web experiences are pretty spectacular.

    So maybe I’m coming around a little more.


  6. lookmark Says:

    Hey, welcome to the club. Evernote is pretty cool.

    I recommend Instapaper, if you’re interested in a smart, very well-implemented read-it-later clipping app / web service. There’s both a free and paid version. It’s great.

    I’ve also gotten hooked on Quordy ($3), if you’re a fan of Boggle. It’s a nicely designed Boggle clone, and you can pass and play (or challenge via e-mail, if they also have the app) with fellow word nerds. Another one is Wurdle, and Bookworm is out there as well. I hear Peggle is coming soon (shiver).

    The NYT app *could* be good if it wasn’t so horribly slow and crashy. C’mon, Gray Lady.

    We’re all tapping our fingers impatiently for iPhone 3.0 for our frickin’ cut & paste and global search . ; )

  7. C’mon iPhone, be serious… | Tyler Butler Says:

    […] Warren Spector on the iPhone: […]

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