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The iPhone

From The Economist:

The danger in developing a gadget that tries to be a phone, internet appliance and iPod all in one is that it can fail to accomplish each as well as it might… simply making a phone call is more cumbersome than it should be, requiring up to half a dozen different steps.

I use my phone for maybe minutes a day, and I’d really like to keep it that way. No matter how gorgeous the screen may be, does anyone really want to spent more than half an hour a day staring at a 3.5 inch screen? 95% of the calls I make from my phone require two clicks (speed-dials). By now, I can type an SMS without even looking at my phone (I have a 3 year old Nokia 7250i by the way). No matter how innovative or great looking a phone is, I feel it’s important to get the basics right.

If you really think about it – the iPhone is sort of an “attention hungry” device. Because it has no keys a user must use the touchscreen to operate it. Here’s a test – can I write an SMS with just one hand? Can I at least make a call? How about change the volume of the currently playing song? I suspect the answer is “probably not”. An innovative new interface doesn’t mean the old ones aren’t useful. What do you think of someone who uses the mouse to go to Edit->Copy and Edit->Paste instead of pressing Ctrl/Cmd + C and Ctrl/Cmd + V?

For a convergence device which is supposed to do “everything” and run OS X, I really hope Apple does provide a real programming interface for the iPhone other than web apps. I cannot understand their point of view that third-party apps are a security concern (after all, Windows mobile phones have been around without serious security issues for years, is Apple saying OS X is more insecure?). Not only are they preventing serious users (who want things like SSH) from buying the iPhone, they’re also pretty much trying to cut out a large part of the mobile-phone software industry, which is no good thing given that it’s a market that Apple has just entered.

It is quite probable though, that second generations (and smaller version) iPhones are already in the design stage and hopefully they’ll address some of the issues around the first-gen iPhone. I would certainly love to see an iPhone with full-fleged Safari running on hardware that has some basic keys as well as the touchscreen interface.

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