Theres a maxim well known to the tech-savvy that you should never buy the first version of any new gadget.
Yet Apples iPhone has been a success, getting snapped up by consumers and professionals alike. Still, some experts in coding and product design have wish lists for what theyd like to see Apple change when and if iPhone 2.0 makes it to market.
“The product itself is disappointing,” wrote Dave Winer, a pioneer in RSS, founder of UserLand Software and owner of Scripting News. He said hed want a search feature in the iPhones e-mail and questions its Web browsing capabilities.
Winer said that the iPhone is “much prettier than a BlackBerry and feels better in your hand. Im not mocking Apple for that; style matters, especially in a personal device. But it seems they could have studied the competition more closely to produce a more feature-complete product.”
One feature Winer felt is sorely lacking in the iPhone is the ability to search across e-mails.
With a BlackBerry mobile device, Winer said, he can “search for the persons name in my inbox, open the first message, highlight the phone number, click the scroll wheel twice—once to dial the number, the second time to confirm that I want to do it.”
Winer also wondered about Apples decision to include a desktop-analogue version of Safari, the companys Web browser, in the iPhone.
“It also seems were going to have a long-term discussion over whether it makes sense to have a mobile Web or take the iPhone trade-off,” Winer said. The iPhone requires more effort to use the Web with lots of scrolling and pinching, but it makes the whole Web accessible—mobile sites as well as non-mobile sites, he said.
“I think what Apple has attempted is noble, but its not going to work. The screens have limited resolution, and even if they didnt, even if they could cram a billion pixels into every square inch, theres the limit of how much detail our eyes can see and how big our hands are,” Winer said.
Donald A. Norman, breed professor of design at Northwestern University and principal at the Nielsen Norman Group, said he agreed with much of Winers criticisms of the iPhone.
“The iPhone, as expected, is a brilliant piece of design, with some buts,” he said. His main criticism is that, “its not finished yet.”
“If you are a business person who mainly wants to do phone calls and e-mails, its not the right machine. There, the BlackBerry, Treo and some of the Nokia phones are the winners. They understand business people. They have real keyboards,” said Norman, who is the author of the soon to be released book, “The Design of Future Things.”
Click here to read more about hacker groups efforts to unlock the iPhone from the AT&T cellular service.
“Apple has never understood the needs of business people,” he said. Norman qualified this statement: “This is not a complaint. Every product has to focus, has to decide who its audience is. I represent a niche audience. Apple as right to aim it for the entertainment junkie. But that isnt me.”
He also addressed other aspects of interaction with the iPhone.
“The browser is clunky. Typing is a pain,” he said. “The great feature of switching automatically between portrait and landscape mode does not work for most of the keyboards.”
He also reiterated Winers main complaint: “There is no search function.”
As for the Web browsing experience, Norman said that “stretching and shrinking photos and browsers with two fingers is fun, at first, but a real pain when one realizes that it is a necessity, all the time, in order to see the parts that are of interest,” he said. But he noted that Apple “did a great job of making a tap reset the size.”
“So,” he concluded, “a very nice piece of technology. But not yet finished, and not for everyone.”
Power Users Compile Long
iPhone Wish List”>
Rob Morgan, the proprietor of the Mac-centric Bare Feats Web site, which operates under the title “Real World Speed Tests for Performance Minded Mac Users,” said he saw three areas hed like Apple to improve in the next iPhone.
First, he said, the iPhone should have 3G data networking.
“Im getting 185K bps download speed with EDGE [in ideal conditions],” he said. “But thats much slower than the 1500K bps Im used to seeing with my Verizon 3G Rev A EV-DO ExpressCard in the MacBook Pro or the typical DSL/Cable connection, whether accessed via HotSpot or not.”
The excuses “given by Apple and AT&T spokespersons for going with EDGE instead of 3G should be viewed with skepticism,” Morgan said. “One excuse given is that EDGE is available in more cities. Thats lame because AT&Ts latest earnings report states they have UMTS/HSDPA [3G] in 165 [US] cities, including 73 of the top 100 markets,” Morgan said. EDGE and UMTS/HSDPA are not mutually exclusive technologies, Morgan noted. “If you arent in a service area that supports UMTS/HSDPA, your cell phone should automatically downshift to EDGE,” he said.
Another excuse, he observed, “is that you dont need mobile broadband with all the Wi-Fi HotSpots around metro areas. But that requires you to drive around until you find a HotSpot that isnt password protected.
“Ive wandered all over the San Diego metro area. The only non-passworded HotSpot Ive found is in the Apple Retail Stores. And what if I want to access the Internet while riding in a car or bus?” he said.
Morgan said that the third excuse “is that the 3G chip set uses too much power and would shorten battery life. Thats interesting since my Verizon RAZR phone is 3G built-in for VCAST access,” Morgan said. “I didnt notice the battery life being necessarily short. The Motorola Q has 3G. My RAZR phone has 3G. Why cant the iPhone have 3G?”
Morgan added that there are reports that Apple could introduce a 3G version as early as Nov. 2008. “When that happens, Ill gladly pass my EDGE version along to one of my drooling family members and buy the new 3G model,” he said.
Another feature Morgan wanted to see in the iPhone was a user-replaceable battery. “I could go for a removable battery like every other cell phone Ive owned. Who wants to be without their iPhone while its being sent in for the $86 out-of-warranty replacement service?”
Finally, he said, hed want the ability to sync the iPhones Notes feature with a personal computer.
“You can sync just about everything stored on your iPhone with your Mac or PC—except the Notes function,” he said. “Ive been using the Notes function to make a to-do list and other notes on my iPhone. But it would be nice if that function could be synchronized with the Mac OS X Stickies function on my MacBook Pro.”
Morgan said he believes there is a Notes feature in the next big upgrade of Mac OS X (Leopard). “Maybe Apple plans to sync that with the iPhones Notes function,” he said.
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