I do love Apple’s design approach and the great quality of their devices, but the one downside of Apple in general is their lack of openness and the tendency to lock you in to Apple products. A prime example is the Apple address book, which makes it really difficult to get your contacts into another app. I wanted to export all my contacts into gmail, but apple address book doesn’t have the option to export to CSV (which would make it easy to export into gmail or outlook). Their are numerous tools available online, including one on the apple site that you have to pay $18 for. However, if you have Apple’s spreasheet app (Numbers) installed there is a VERY easy way to do this, and in fairness to Apple, they’ve done a great job at getting their apps to work together.
1. Open Numbers (The Mac spreadsheet app)
2. Open Address Book, select your contacts and drag them into an empty spreadsheet.
3. Voila! Now you can export them to csv, excel etc.
If you don’t have Numbers installed, there is also a freeware utility available at http://gwenhiver.net/address-book-exporter.html
With the looming announcement of the next iPhone… I thought I’d do a quick review of my current iPhone, my likes and dislikes… Apple is pretty secretive about the new one, but let’s hope they’ve solved some of the issues. I have used Windows mobile smartphones for many years now, so at first I didn’t see the big deal about having a phone with a browser, that you can play music on too – you’ve been able to do that for years. However, there are some really good things about the iPhone, and also some really bad things… here goes…
What I don’t like about it:
- The headphone jack is recessed, so I can’t even use the Bose QC3 headphones that I bought in the Apple store. Basically you need to use white iPod headphones. This is completely insane. People say that MSFT locks you in… Apple is 15 x worse. Oh by the way they are happy to sell you an adapter… how nice of them. As much as I like apple products, this sort of thing could be their downfall.
- No 3G… ok so apparently this is planned, but for now, EDGE just isn’t good enough for this to be a great internet phone.
- Cannot accept meeting invitations – if you get an iCal request you can’t accept or decline it, which is not really acceptable if you’re very mobile and seldom at your desk. There is also no Exchange support but this will be added very soon.
- Apple tie-in: I still need to get used to using iTunes as my interface for doing anything with my phone. I suppose you get used to it but I’d like a bit more openness.
- You cannot remove the battery, and sometimes the iPhone just freezes which means you’re without a phone until the battery runs out. This is bad, very bad.
What I DO like about it:
- The web browser (mobile safari) is the best mobile browser that I’ve used. There are 2 things that I like about the iPhone’s browser. Firstly, the zoom in and out by “finger pinching” the screen is very easy and intuitive – I use it all the time. Secondly, you have the concept of tabbed/multi-window browsing which is something that was always an issue for me on other phones (eg sites that pop up a new window for specific functionality don’t work on other phones that I’ve had in the past). The weather application is also useful if you travel a lot, and the stock app is useful for keeping up to date with your portfolio – and if you reach target price it’s a quick switch to call your broker and shout “SELL!, SELL!” from the comfort of your first class seat whilst watching the safety video.
- I like the google maps app that is included. It has a cool feature that enables you to find out where you are, which is very useful if trying to walk and navigate around a large, complex unfamiliar city, for example. However, the windows live mobile maps application (for windows mobile devices) actually offers a much more granular street view than the google maps, even if the google app is more intuitive. I was in London a few months ago, and I tried to find an obscure street, which the google map could not find but the microsoft one had no issue. In the usability dept, the google maps are very good, though.
- I like the visual voicemail capability – especially for those long messages when the person mumbles their number at warp speed, right near to the end. You can just drag the slider to the desired position and play it from there – very useful.
- As would expected the music playing is second-to-none, all very well designed and thought out. For example if you’re listening to your playlist and a call comes in, the music fades out and you can answer the call. Windows Mobile doesn’t offer quite as seamless an experience, even though you can play media on a windows device.
Overall, I think the iPhone is a good device but I hope that the next one makes some very necessary improvements…