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iPhone thoughts

Luke Breuer
2010-01-19 11:40 UTC

user interface
The user interface is fantastic compared to what has come before. It is uniform, hides functionality until you ask for it, and focuses on presenting information instead of administrative debris. The spectacular work that was done on the iPhone reminds me of something Richard Hamming said in You and Your Research:
I think that if you look carefully you will see that often the great scientists, by turning the problem around a bit, changed a defect to an asset. For example, many scientists when they found they couldn't do a problem finally began to study why not. They then turned it around the other way and said, But of course, this is what it is'' and got an important result. So ideal working conditions are very strange. The ones you want aren't always the best ones for you.

I believe that the following factors are what the iPhone developers needed to innovate:
  • small screen size (480x320)
  • few input devices (a few buttons and a touch screen)
  • relative slow processor for generation 2 (620MHz ARM)
  • battery dependent (power needs to be conserved)

Interestingly enough, this contrasts completely with the trend of favoring programmer time over performance and efficiency. Now, of course the iPhone, being a mass-produced device, is well at one end of the spectrum. Apple also had many developers putting a lot of energy into the iPhone. Regardless, it would appear that Richard Hamming was correct!
questions/issues
  • USB battery pack (e.g. battery with USB connector + charging circuit)
  • no official solution for an external keyboard (fold up keyboard anyone?)
  • no way to have ring options change based on time of day (like, during classes)
  • why does it take so long to sync? is the bandwidth that low?
    • upon further thought, I'll bet the iPhone processor is slow in computing all the necessary hashes for integrity checks
  • why can't I choose which mail folders to synchronize? I have a lot of folders and I don't want to synchronize all of them, as the iPhone display for folders is horrible and pre-expands the entire folder tree
  • why is iTunes so resource-intensive? it kills a Pentium M 1.6 GHz laptop...
  • I want to be able to remotely control my iPhone when it is connected to my computer — including copy & paste
  • no love for Outlook contact categories (are Google labels supported?)
  • why does iTunes not download lyrics automatically?
  • why is iTunes so slow?
  • I want to be able to keep the screen on at certain times when the iPhone is plugged in — sometimes it seems like it does this, but not always and not predictably, so far
  • mail client doesn't always properly detect all emails that have been read by an email client on a computer
  • iTunes steals the "keyboard play button focus" whenever I plug my iPhone in — LAME (what if I want to keep using foobar2k? must I reactivate it? why is iTunes so special?)
iTunes alternatives