Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Journey to the Dark Side 5: Love at first iSight-iPhone

One of the most frustrating aspects of working with my new Mac was not being able to sync the contacts and dates that I had in my phone with the computer. I had tried all sorts of work arounds including buying a $40 piece of software called The Missing Sync which was supposed to take care of the problem. It didn’t and now I have to try and get my money back.

Thanks to a friend in Apple, I was able to get a nice discount on the iPhone and it arrived yesterday. I had been impressed with the simplicity of the interface and I was not disappointed.

First of all the iPhone is a beautiful piece of industrial design, sleek, efficient and extraordinarily easy to use. That last point is what I have been looking for in a phone for years. Until this summer I had gone through a series of Palm Treo’s which have small touch screens but are very bulky and poorly designed for human use unless you have hands as big as mine. I then switched to AT&T and got a Samsung BlackJack which I have learned to hate because nothing is straightforward on it. True it is a beautiful slim little phone, specially after using the bulky Treos, but it runs the Windows Mobile OS and you are forced to drill through layers of screens to perform the simplest tasks. When my BlackJack would no longer sync with my Win XP machine and would not connect to the Mac, that was the kiss of death.

Secondly, but most importantly, the iPhone just works. Without reading pages of instructions, I simply plugged my iPhone dock into the USB port, docked the iPhone and iTunes did all the rest. Within 10 minutes I had synchronized all my contacts and calendars and had, as a matter of fact, received my first phone call! I can’t tell you how many times I have searched the manual for the Samsung BlackJack in vain looking for answers to the simplest questions. The iPhone is profoundly intuitive: the graphics make it clear what steps to take to perform whatever task you want from calling someone to looking up a website. Let me repeat: it just works!

This is why even the hardened PC lover like Gary Baker admitted that the iPhone is revolutionary. That’s not because it is the perfect product by any means, but because it reverses the trend of most phones which require the user to adapt to all sorts of sophisticated operating systems and proprietary interfaces. Apple, on the other hand, seems to have started with the consumer and asked,” What do I hate about cellphones and what do I want mine to do right out of the box?” this is what is revolutionizing the cellphone industry; consumers will no longer stand for clunky bricks that make you learn a whole new language before you can use them effectively. While I realize that there are some weighty issues with the iPhone, the overall user experience is “Why haven’t my other phones just worked like this?”

I know that there is much more to learn about the iPhone but I don’t have to dread wading into a thick manual to try and figure it out myself. I now feel like I am ready to rock and roll on the new platform. Running Vista on the Parallels side is another matter and one that I will talk about as I dig into it. For the time being I have enough on my hands getting projects back on track in the new year on the Mac...and earning enough money to pay for all this beautiful but expensive technology!

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