Two Weeks with the iPhone

I’d never been that impressed with the iPhone until the iPhone 4 came out last year and I had the change to play with a friend’s phone.  The only problem was the AT&T exclusivity and my issues with AT&T locally had led me to Verizon after a number of years as an AT&T wireless customer.  AT&T has improved since then, but not enough to make me switch back (though they did finally deploy 3G data here back in early January).  So I was happy to hear the iPhone come to Verizon in early February.

I purchased an iPad last fall and it had largely converted me into the iOS camp.  I have no plans to replace my Windows computers with a Mac for day to day use, but using the iPad made me appreciate the simplicity of the system and the convenience of having a small and long life device for things like email, reading PDF documents, and the like.  I’ve really noticed some amazing benefits of integrating it into my work life, but that’s another post.

Still the experience with the iPad had me ready to look at an iPhone when it came time for a new phone in June.  The decision came a little earlier as the issues my phone had experienced since going for a little swim in a creek in the late summer had become much worse.  Finally they reached a point of becoming too annoying two weeks ago so I walked out into a Best Buy one Saturday afternoon and walked out with a 32 GB iPhone 4.

I like it.  The convenience of the apps cannot be overstated.  As a phone the iPhone really isn’t any better than the Windows Mobile phone it replaced, but the interface is smoother and the apps make the thing a true PDA in addition to a phone.  I’d have trouble going back even after just two weeks.

Even though I do love the phone I am surprised at some simple things the phone cannot do and may look into Jailbreaking to implement some of these.  First the texting interface is a bit weak to me.  I’m not a large text message user, but something about it just doesn’t working right for me.

I’m also amazed that the phone doesn’t have any way to automatically set it to vibrate or silent when my calendar shows me busy.  My much derided Windows Mobile phone could do this before the first iPhone even came out.  In addition the ability to configure alerts is weak.  I really don’t want to hear a tone if I get an email at 5 AM, but I would like the phone to ring or alert me to a text message.  I had an application on my Windows Mobile phone that would go to a silent mode at night for everything except phone calls for example and turn off bluetooth to save battery.  So far I’ve not been able to find anything like this for the iPhone that doesn’t involve hacking the phone.

These are mostly minor things and they don’t dampen my overall enjoyment of the phone, but I’d really like to see some of these added in the next iOS version.  And if I’ve missed any obvious fixes for the above problem, feel free to point them out in the comments.

Why I’m Not Sure I’ll Miss Borders

Understand that I’m a reader.  I love books, have books, and will often buy a book that looks interesting knowing that I probably won’t be able to get around to reading it for weeks or months.  When I travel I love to find a used bookstore and can spent a couple hours going through and leave with a stack of books so large that they have to be shipped home instead of packing in my luggage.

When I read the news that Borders is expected to file for bankruptcy this week it surprised me then my reaction was largely, “Meh.”  It’s not that I dislike Borders, but honestly I just don’t go there for books that often.  A lot of blame for the demise of Borders is being placed on the “Internet” much like it’s some vague evil force.  In truth I’ll expect in the end management mistakes and being late to get into the online sales routes did most of the work to take Borders down this road.  For me Borders never competed against the Internet.  For me Borders competed against the fact that the nearest store is about an hour’s drive from my house and to be honest if I want a book it’s only about a fifty-fifty chance they’ll have it unless it’s the newest Stephen King or latest hot business book.  Sure they can order it, but I can do that myself from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Books-A-Million and have it at my home in a few days.

In fact since I got a Kindle about a year ago, unless it’s a book I expect to reference certain ways, I’m just as likely to just buy the eBook and have it in a few minutes.  I enjoy the book experience, but I’m finding more the ability to carry an entire library with me anywhere is just too much of a benefit to ignore.  The ability to reference a book any time without having to remember where I’ve stored it means I’m re-visiting books that I’ve already read more than before.  The ability to take time that otherwise felt wasted (waiting on an oil change or at the doctor’s office) and read instead makes me feel more productive and I am getting more read thanks to these small moments.  Now that my phone has a Kindle app, I expect I’ll do this even more and not just when I expect to be waiting.

I don’t think books will go away and I don’t want them too.  The truth is though that a lot of books are read, digested, and then simply shelved or resold.  Something is lost perhaps in the move to eBooks, but I think more will be gained.  I hope the used bookstore with the musty smell and surprise finds never goes away.  I do think that the traditional bookstore will change, but I don’t think that they will all go away.  Some will thought and it appears Borders might be the first.