Home > Features > Product Review: Apple iPhone 1.0

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The iPhone

Now to the phone part of the review. Using the iPhone as your new mobile has its joys and frustrations. On the joy side, the whole interface is awesome. Visual voice-mail is just wicked cool. And extremely practical!

By far my favorite feature is visual voice mail. I get lots of messages so being able to pick and choose who I listen to is vital and a huge time saver. I'm often in meetings and may miss four or five calls in the span of an hour. My second favorite feature is the ability to "scrub" through my voice messages. My wife in particular often leaves me long detailed instructions. Being able to scrub back and forth through parts of a message is a godsend.

There are clear areas for improvement though. I like how the Recents list shows missed calls in red and that you can truncate to just the missed calls with a tap of a button. But I would like to individually delete these calls in the same manner as email messages, not be forced to clear the entire list.

The iPhone's speaker function, and conference calling capabilities, are just great. When you are on a call you can do much with the phone, and when you are listening to a song or watching a movie, your call comes in smoothly, interrupts, and gracefully takes you back to where you were before when the call ends. Those aspects of the iPhone are all blissful.

The external speaker is loud enough but the internal one is often not. I find that I have my volume to the maximum setting often. More volume power here is needed. And I wish the volume control buttons were a bit more pronounced so I could tell which one is the up button from the down button.


Everything Else

If there was nothing else with this phone it would be a great device. But instead Apple throws in a very decent 2 megapixel camera, a superb photos application, a great calendar and more.

Photos is by far the most compelling application. It is wonderful how you navigate through your photos, zoom and crop them, and make use of them for address book contacts, email sending and the background. The iPhone makes one superb mobile portfolio for designers, architects, photographers and artists. (see image 06).

Image - 06: : Photos look truly gorgeous on the iPhone, with your ability to zoom in on details.

The Stocks app works just like the Mac OS X widget version, as does the Weather app. In fact, these are widgets of a sort. Apple did a great job with Clocks, giving you world clocks, a great alarm system that is programmable, a stopwatch and a timer. The one let down here is the Calculator app. It's just a basic calculator. Apple should have given you options like the Clocks app, such as a good scientific and financial calculator. Or how about a useful conversion calculator?

The Calendar app is more useful by far than the one on my Blackberry, because I can actually navigate around my calendar quickly. Not to mention the nice way in which it taps your Contacts for information.

Texting is not something I personally ever really do. More likely a generation thing but Apple's implementation is iChat like. This is a smart move for the younger generation. They love iChat's visual quality.


The Big Extras

Now for the finale. Apple made a last minute add to the iPhone with the introduction of YouTube videos. This may seems like a "who cares" addition but the truth is they did an outstanding job at implementing this. When you happen to get that good fast EDGE connection in a major city, like at my doctor's office in Boston, I was delighted to have YouTube to pass the time away while waiting in that boring waiting room. Of course with WiFi at home it just flies.

Lastly, Maps is Google's maps web application implemented on Apple's iPhone. The application ties into the iPhone's ability to make calls and load web pages. For those familiar with Google Maps most of this will be familiar but Apple was able to introduce Google's live traffic capabilities on the iPhone as well. They are under beta on the Web via desktop browsers.

Image - 08: : Google Maps on your iPhone, complete with directions from point A to point B, route highlighted in purple.
Image - 09 : LiveTraffic data appears on the iPhone's Maps application. This has proven to be very reliable (and useful!)

Having satellite imagery with live traffic data is pretty darn sweet.There is no denying the usefulness of such information on a cell phone, and it will be interesting to see if Apple implements "street-level" view in a future software upgrade.


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