iPhone Update Impressions

Well, the first major update is out. It brings some cosmetic changes to the iPhone, and fixes a few glaring issues. The ability to purchase tracks on iTunes is great, and I can see iTunes going a long way with this. For example, if Apple could get radio stations to have some sort of standardized 'now playing' list in exchange for money or shared revenue or something, perhaps one could buy a song that one heard on the radio and liked. That would be a much more dramatic tie-in than say, Starbucks.

The other major niggle fixed by this update is the ability to set different alert sounds for text messages, and linked alert sounds to the overal ringer volume. In other words, incoming text messages and calendar alerts now have a chance of actually grabbing my attention. Apple added 'chime', 'glass', 'horn', 'bell', and 'electronic'. Needless to say, I'd rather be able to buy a ringtone and assign it; there's got to be some sound effect CDs in their iTunes Music section, or maybe some gong sound at the beginning of a song or something, but the selection of alert sounds and ability to change their volume is a welcome change. You know, like someone pulling a splinter out of your arm. I'd like to go on record to state that this update is also better than a poke in the eye.

Still, there are things I was hoping for in the update that aren't here yet. There's still no To-Do functionality, still no Stereo Bluetooth, still no OBEX Bluetooth. There's no Notes sync, no SDK or Widgets support (unless Apple's hiding it for a later surprise). Apple still has a long way to go with their iPhone software, and if this update is an indication, there will be many many months before me and pure bliss.

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p> In all though, I wouldn't change the scores I gave to the iPhone when I first reviewed it. As a quick recap, I gave it 7/10 if you're coming from the smartphone world, 9/10 if you're coming from the featurephone world. The lack of ringtones and alert messages were major flaws, to be sure. But the lack of installable applications, games, To-Do lists, editable office documents (Notes still doesn't cut it; who can write anything major in Marker Felt?), Stereo Bluetooth, ObEx, USB Mass Storage, eBook reader, cut and paste, Exchange, no multiple recipient SMS, no AIM or other instant messaging, no video record, no wireless sync....

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iPhone Update Impressions

2 Comments

I am very glad to see that Apple is making important improvements as well as responding to customer issues and suggestions. Moreover, I am stunned at how quickly they are releasing updates for the device. I wonder if this is being driven early to quell major issues or if we will see a continued trend of regular multi-month releases of software for the device. Other vendors -- *ESPECIALLY* Palm -- should be taking note.
That said, Apple still hasn't closed the gap in the most major area of lacking in the iPhone, IMHO: An SDK for native third-party applications. For me, this single omission is enough to keep me on my Frankengarnet Treo 680. People can call this thing a smartphone all day long, but it doesn't mean a thing if you can't actually install applications on it without voiding your warranty. Period.