Apple iPod Operation: Phone and Email
As stated above, syncing my contacts was a breeze. On Monday
morning I had some meetings around the state, so I was going to be on
the road most of the day. I decided to leave my laptop behind to see
if indeed the iPhone would be a worthy replacement for a day on the
Let me now concentrate on the four major features of the iPhone: the phone, the email, the internet browsing, and the iPod.
you turn on the iPhone, the display wakes up and you are greeted with
the time and date at the top of the screen along with whatever photo
you have chosen as your wallpaper (this can be chosen from included
stock images, a photo you have taken with the camera, or an imported
photo). At the bottom of the screen is a slider which says "slide to
unlock." You simply drag your finger across the slider and and you
hear a mechanical "click" and the home screen appears. It consists of
three rows of colorful icons for all the extra features of the phone.
Along the bottom of the screen are the 4 main functions, Phone, Mail,
Safari & iPod. If you have any mail, the Mail icon will have a
red dot (with the number of waiting emails in it) in the top right
corner. The Phone icon will also show the number of missed calls
Voicemail is one of the really cool and innovative features of the iPhone. When you have received several voicemails, you touch the voicemail icon (while in phone mode) and you are presented with a list of your voicemails. It has the names or numbers of the calls you have missed, and you can choose whichever message in the list you want to listen to rather than having to listen through several messages to get to the one you want. This feature is called Visual Voicemail, and it is one of the features that AT&T had to rework their wireless technology to accommodate. To me, this is easily one of the best features of the phone.
Call quality was excellent - loud and clear, and people I talked to said it sounded great as well. The speakerphone was also clear and loud enough to use effectively in my car or office. Calls can be made from your contact list or if you prefer, a virtual number pad. Along the bottom of the screen in Phone mode are the following buttons: Favorites (save a list of frequently called contacts here), Recents (if a call was missed, it appears in Red in this list of recent calls), Contacts, Keypad, and Voicemail (an icon with number of unheard messages will appear here if there are any).
When you place a call, the screen shows the
following six large buttons: Mute, Keypad, Speaker, Add Call, Hold,
and Contacts. Everything you need without having to remember how to do
something. For example, your friend you are talking too asks if you
have someone's address or phone number - just press the contact button
and navigate through the contacts screen. Or how about adding two more
friends for a conference call? Just press the Add Call button, then
dial from the keypad or contacts list. When that person answers, the
Add Call button has changed to "Merge Call," which you press to
activate the conference. Even on an office phone, creating a
conference call has always been confusing, but the iPhone makes it
When you touch the Mail icon at the bottom of the phone, you are presented with a list of your accounts (assuming you have multiple email accounts). You touch the account you want to see, and you are taken to a screen showing your Inbox, Drafts, Sent and Trash. Touching any of these takes you to that folder. Navigating to the Inbox, you are presented with your current and new emails. Touching the message you want to view brings you to a full view of the message. At the bottom of the screen are icons for checking for new mail, filing the current message, deleting current message, replying to the current message, or composing a new message. Word, Excel or PDF images attached to a message can be opened and viewed, although not edited or saved.
To compose a new message, you touch the compose icon and you are presented with a blank new message with the cursor blinking in the "To:" field. The virtual keyboard is presented in the bottom half of the screen. This is probably the main learning curve issue with the iPhone - the virtual keyboard. Using your thumbs, you press the virtual key you want and as you touch it it enlarges, which allows you to see what key you actually hit. The first time I tried it I was only 50% at best (hitting the key I wanted). But as I began to type words, I noticed that under the word I was typing was a drop down window showing the word the iPhone thinks I was trying to type. If I had misspelled the word but continued to type it, once I hit the space key to begin the next word, it auto-corrected my typos and inserted the correct word. This was remarkably accurate, and I realized that the more I just kept typing, trusting the intelligence of the software, the more it worked. But it is something that takes getting used to. One advantage I have is that I have not been using tactile keys, such as on a Treo or Blackberry. I would assume that if you are used to one of those devices, it will take a bit longer to get used to. I saw Walt Mossberg on the Charlie Rose show and he said that the first day using it he was frustrated, the second day of using it he was getting angry, and by the third day he wanted to throw it out of the window. But by the fifth day, it had clicked and he loved it. (He has used a Treo for several years now). There is a number and symbol button at the bottom of the page that changes the QUERTY layout of the virtual keyboard to a numbers and symbols layout when you need it.
Once you have finished your
message, you hit the 'Send' key and you soon hear the "woosh" sound
(familiar to Mac Mail users) that lets you know the message has been
sent. One complaint I have is that there are multiple inboxes (one for
each email account you have configured) rather than one master inbox.
This means you have to hit the back button quite a bit to navigate
between your different incoming mail. (There might be a way to change
this, but I have not found it yet. Remember, my disclaimer is that I
am only in my first 24 hours with the device!)
Apple doing what they do best making sure everyone has access to their little gadgets.
1. Apple likely chose the GSM-Edge network due to the worldwide size of that market -- the vast majority of European and Asian markets use the GSM technology, not the EVDO standard in much of North America. This choice expands the number of markets and potential for rapid growth, economies of scale, and establishing a foothold in multiple regions before competitors copy the technology and introduce their own knock-offs.
2. Feature set -- smartphone, email, iPod, video -- these features are targeted at the upper end of the consumer segment and not at business users. This segment is highly mobile, has a greater amount of personal time, likely spends more time than average commuting (via public transit or in groups), and has a relatively high level of disposable income. The target is likely the 16-34 year olds who are already users of the iPod and are OK spending >$500 on the latest technology (iPod, PS3, or the original web phones).
3. Manufacturing limitations -- you can only build so many units in a given time frame, so why not position your product at the high end of the market and get the feedback from people with a history of using high-end products and make adjustments over time.
4. Mid-market consumers and business users are more price sensitive and less tech-savy than most people realize. If Apple tried to be everything to all people, they would satisfy no one and end up tossing their iPhone on the pile of "nice ideas" like the Newton. Different versions on other networks are likely to arrive in the coming years as the bugs are worked out and the adoption rate increases.
Final comments: The wealth of new technologies in this device are likely to raise the bar for all manufacturers. The key for Apple is to position this device as a good phone with a great combination of iPod and email features. If they are successful, they have a chance at competing in a much larger market -- cellphones -- rather than being relegated to a niche device manufacturer (iPod).
It is what it is. Not perfect, not the end-all, but a cool little device. People don't say not to jump on the Treo or Blackberry bandwagons ("they don't have an iPod" or "they don't have visual voicemail" or "the email is not full-featured," etc.).
It's a matter of taste. The price will keep many people away. The lack of alternate carriers will keep many away. The list goes on. Those that buy one will probably love it. Those that don't will probably be pretty critical of it. Both opinions are justified.
The more I use it, the more things I find that I wish were better or different. But I also find more and more that I love about it.