Summary: While Alan and Alexis love their iPhones, life with the iPhone hasn't been perfect. In this article Alan and Alexis discuss what they feel are the iPhone's greatest shortcomings.
Alexis and I found a bunch of things that make the iPhone feel like a beta product, one that didn’t get adequate testing and quality assurance evaluation, at least by us.
In Microsoft the World we argued that security would be Apple’s principal weakness in the next decade.
#2: Plays by itself
SUN Microsystems, Adobe, and Apple engineers all work, eat, and play in the same neighborhood, but Apple won’t let your iPhone play with those guys. Java support is non-existent in the iPhone, which severely limits your available applications. We know that the processor on the iPhone supports Java natively, so it shouldn’t be a performance issue. In addition, it isn’t like Java is a brand new language. Apple just didn’t want you to have it.
#3: Recessed headphone jack
If you haven’t heard yet, the iPhone headphone jack is so recessed into the body that the only headsets that will fit are those from Apple. If you want to connect another set of headphones, you need to buy a very clunky headphone extender. This suggests that none of the beta testers or designers at Apple use any higher quality headphones than the stock earbuds…I honestly find it a little hard to believe, unless Apple is going to be getting into the headphone business as well. I’ve complained about all the proprietary connections on cell phones before, Samsung, Sony-Ericsson, Nokia, and Motorola all do this, but they aren’t sold as high end music players. Apple went with style over function on this one. Unfortunately, this problem can’t be patched with a software upgrade. It’s going to require surgery.
#4: No user-accessible File system
The iPhone’s email system handles attachments very well. It can display attached pictures inline, word documents and PDFs can be viewed, but it lacks the very important ability to save these files. We won’t even get into the iPhone’s inability to edit these files, but there needs to be a provision to save the files. If you get a PDF with directions for example, to see that PDF again, you need to go back into the email program. Apple needs to trust users with the ability to do file management without having to hack the iPhone.
Compared to other cell phones, the speakerphone is embarrassing. It isn’t loud enough and the proximity of the speakers to the microphone sometimes creates echoes. Apple chose to put the external speakers at the bottom of the iPhone, where your microphone is, instead of near the top or the sides. I’m sure with the tight packaging of the iPhone they were limited in their choices, but it’s still too bad. I would have loved to see NXT technology here, with the entire iPhone face acting as a speaker, that technology could also be used to provide haptic feedback for the iPhone touch screen. Too bad they didn’t consult us first, before we did our reduction to practice. Maybe next time.
#6: No copy and paste
We love the iPhone interface and think the keyboard actually works, but still typing a series of long urls into your emails is a pain. You can share links, but only one at a time. It doesn’t seem like having the ability to copy and paste text should be an advanced feature, this was how Apple started out with the first graphical wysiwyg word processors. Hopefully this bug will be fixed soon, I didn’t say upgraded since this should have been recognized as a vital feature. Apple really likes to tell you what you need and don’t need, kinda like the one button mouse.
Admittedly some, okay many ringtones can be utterly annoying. Apple’s built in ringtones aren’t bad, but we need the ability to choose our own ringtones. Nearly every single phone on the market today can use mp3 ringtones. The hacked iPhones have already added this feature, so the only reason I can see why Apple hasn’t done it yet is that they want to charge people money for ringtones. They must be trying to develop their own DRM system for ringtones. Hmm…who’s starting to sound like the big bad monopoly now?
#8: Voice recording
Take an ordinary 5.5G iPod, throw a microphone on it, and you now have a voice recorder. The iPhone is an iPod… it has a microphone… but no voice recorder.
#9: Everyone is not all created equal
Apple is trying to market their iPhone as both Windows and Mac compatible, but compatible doesn’t mean equal. Microsoft saw the fact that if they wrote both Mac and Windows software, their Office suites would run on nearly all personal computers in the world. Apple realized with the iPod that compatibility opened up their market share, they didn’t start off with this belief as they were using firewire for the iPod instead of USB. With the iPhone though, Apple is again trying to proselytize that Macs are better. When syncing with a Mac, the iPhone is able to categorize contacts into groups, with windows it can’t. Publishing photos on the web from the camera only works if you have a .mac account. You may have Yahoo! mail, but where’s Flickr?
This will be the last iPhone article you’ll see from FiringSquad for some time. (At least until they open up the platform) Now that the hype has settled, we still have to say that the iPhone is still an excellent luxury toy. It’s still slick, it’s still a pleasure to use, and if Apple begins to address the flaws discussed above, it’ll only get better.
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