Friday, 9 January 2009

iPhone - 12 months on

Despite being very much a “Microsoft person” in the past, many of you know that I was totally sold on the Apple iPhone’s user interface, and moved across to a 2G iPhone a year ago. How has the past year gone, and do I regret the move to the iPhone?

Looking back, the initial months went extremely well. The screen display is superb and the touch user interface extremely easy to use. Within the first day I was able to synchronise with Outlook on my PC, giving me access both to my contacts and calendar on my iPhone. Collecting e-mail from my Microsoft Office Live email account was not so straight forward (the account supports neither IMAP nor POP access), and I had to use the Izymail service to gain access – and even then whilst access via WiFi was good, access via the Cloud (the 2.5G mobile network) was patchy and slow – so I tended to seek out WiFi sites to view e-mail on the go.

The Safari browser gave good, if somewhat slow, access to websites, although the lack of support for many standards, e.g. Flash, does restrict some content. The shares facility proved excellent, with both my portfolio and watchlist stored on the iPhone and giving me up-to-date prices on the go. Voice coverage on the O2 network proved (surprisingly) better than I had been getting on Vodafone, with a good voicemail service in the UK (but distinctly variable when abroad).

Then, around the middle of the year, the automatic update to the next versions of iTunes and iPhone software (for the release of the 3G phone) caused mayhem for a couple of months. The iPhone would no longer synchronise with Outlook on my Vista PC – hundreds of posters on Apple’s support site reported the same problem – and calls to the Apple support line generated the response that it was due to problems with Microsoft software, and came up with many different, time-consuming ways of configuring Outlook to try to sort the problem – all failing.

Two months later, after apologies from Steve Jobs, multiple updates to the Apple software, and after totally rebuilding my PC from scratch, the problem was fixed. I should have known that mixing Apple and Microsoft software was bound to cause problems.....

I've also been able to use many of the free iPhone applications - varying from the highly useful online Tube Status and BBC News Reader, through demonstrations of the iPhone technology like a spirit level and iPint (which still amazes anyone who has not seen an iPhone before), to a variety of games that occasionally keep me occupied whilst I'm travelling.

However, Apple has hooked me on its iPod and iTunes store functionality. My PC now holds c 15Gb of music, from which I extract around 6Gb of playlists onto the iPhone – something that I’ve found of great use when travelling or on holiday. Most of the music is 60s/70s, and I’ve found the iTunes Genius service too tempting to ignore – it throws up tracks from the past that I’d forgotten, which I subsequently download and add to my growing collection of “old” music. So, although I have backed up all my purchases to audio CD, I guess Apple has succeeded in locking me in, and with the software having stabilised over the past few months, I suspect an upgrade to a bigger, 3G iPhone is beckoning.....

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