So, it seems that things finally worked out with my recent phone crisis. A few weeks ago, anticipating that I would get an iPhone, I went ahead and switched over to AT&T. I was given a Samsung flip phone. I disdained that communicator like a proverbial step-child. But disdain then gave way to heavenly joy. Last Friday, after waiting in line for 2 hours with my fellow iZealots, I was summoned into the AT&T store and ceremoniously handed a sealed plastic bag.
I came home and fired up iTunes. Activation went off without a hitch: all of my contacts and calendar information synchronized like a charm. All of a sudden I felt myself go limp as tears of joy streamed down my cheeks. I hadn’t been able to sync the information on my Treo in almost 2 years and the weight of that misfortune was dragging me down. The sync process also ported over all of my email settings, my photos and some of my iTunes music and videos. As I rose from my chair I held the phone above my head like King Arthur’s sword. I felt as though I had been baptized in the River Jordan.
Eventually the celestial trumpets stopped playing and I descended slowly back to earth. So now that I’m back on Terra Firma, let’s talk about mundane stuff.
The phone works absolutely great, and the iPod is the best ever. There’s a lot I could say about how wonderful this device is (truly revolutionary, and all that). But that’s all been said many times. I could also complain about how slow the EDGE network is (to establish that I’m not blind to the iPhone’s limitations), but the truth is I don’t really care about web-browsing on my phone. Still, there’s a lot going on inside the sleek little case.
The iPhone is not just a phone/MP3player/email device. As my bartender friend pointed out "it attracts woman even better than a new born puppy." And the iPhone doesn’t have to be housebroken.
So what’s so special about it? Well, mostly it’s the fact that the interface is both glitzy and yet intricately simple. And, by that, I mean that a lot of time has been spent figuring out how to make things happen naturally.
For example, if you’re listening to music you’ll probably dim the screen to save battery life. So there you are with your music shuffling randomly and all of a sudden you hear a song that you don’t remember the name of. How many navigational hoops are you going to have to jump through to find out?
Answer: you press one button.
Ordinarily, when you tap the wake up button on the phone you’re shown the AT&T wallpaper image (unless you modified it to a different one). Then you have to move the slider to confirm wake up etc. But, if you’re playing music it knows that you might want to know what song is playing or what time it is. So it shows you the album cover with track and artist information, along with the current time. This kind of contextual adaptation permeates the phone’s interface. That, to me, is what makes it a path-breaker.
Apple has done a really remarkable job with this phone. Some people have criticized the lack of 3G or the built in camera, but I think that’s unfair. The strength of the iPhone is how smoothly all of the features work as a whole. Adding more features would just make the interface more confusing and cluttered. And remember: this is only the first version of this phone.
What did the first generation iPod look like? Now try to imagine what the fifth generation iPhone will be like. I couldn’t have imagined this phone six months ago. And yet here I am: the proud owner of a revolutionary technological device.
The iPhone’s product launch was more than a business event. It was a major social phenomenon. Years from now people who stood in line will tell their kids about how they were among the privileged few who first got to try the iPhone (if you can call 500,000 people "a few"). Where were you when the iPhone was released last Friday? Where were you the first time you held one in your hands and played with it?
I’ll always remember where I was. But, more importantly, I’ll remember it also as the day that I finally managed to synchronize my contact information again. Hallelujeah! Praise the Lord, Allah, and Steve Jobs. It’s now time to kill the fatted calf. The prodigal son has safely returned to his data warehouse.