iPhone gripes

Ok, first of all, the iPhone 3GS is a great phone. Having used it for a couple months, it's now even more abundantly clear what a categorical piece of shit the Palm Pre was. Why did I put up with that for so long? Stockholm Syndrome?

But of course I have complaints.

  1. It never seems to delete mail from the server. I'm using Pop3s, and I have the iPhone mail client set to "Deleted messages: remove after 1 day"; "Delete from server: when removed from Inbox" (and I've also tried "Seven days"). The mail client itself only shows me about a day's worth of messages, but they are never expired from the server, even when they've expired off the phone's list. I don't understand how I'm expected to keep my mail server from filling up. From earlier experiments, I do not believe that "deleting" messages on the phone does anything other than move them to a phone-side Trash folder. But if I'm expected to do that, that's just impractical. That would mean that the first thing I'd have to do every morning when I woke up was swipe away the 200+ messages that arrived during the night.
  2. Since there's no sane way to delete or mark messages read on the phone, because I'm not willing to click 200 times to do it, the way I use the mail reader is to just leave all of the messages unread and in Inbox, and when I'm out and about and want to check my mail, I just read until I've seen a message that I have read already. This is stupid, but it's the only way I've found that is even remotely practical.

  3. When the phone is sleeping and a notification appears (SMS, alarm, etc.) there is no way to dismiss / acknowledge that notification without typing my password to unlock the phone first. Why can't I just double-click it or something? And if I don't dismiss it, then it thinks I haven't seen it and keeps reminding me. That's really annoying. (The repeating reminders are good, the hoops you have to jump through to ack them is bad.)

  4. Entering new events in the calendar is insanely convoluted. On PalmOS (and WebOS) you went to the calendar, clicked on the hour where you wanted the event, typed the event name, and you were done. Zero superfluous clicks. On the iPhone, you have to click New Event, click Edit Date, select the time off of an annoying scrolly wheel, click Done, click Edit Name, type, click Done, and then click Done again. WTF!

  5. Why is there still no "iChat" on the iPhone? BeejiveIM seems to be the best option, but it kind of sucks. Constant "your screen name is signed in from 2 locations" messages. Frequent "connection reset by peer" messages. I often discover that it decided to hang up on all of my accounts, so I haven't been getting messages sent to my phone.

  6. There's no "attach" button when you're sending mail. The only easy way to send a photo is to initiate that action from the Photos or Camera app (in which case the photo is scaled down to 800x600, and you can only send exactly one photo). If you go into Photos and copy a photo, you can paste it into Mail and it will send it full sized; but you can only copy one at a time, by switching back and forth between the Photos and Mail apps for each one, which is really tedious.

  7. It takes too much clicking to tell it to forget a WiFi network, after you have connected to one that turned out to be useless. (Which happens quite a lot in this town.) Every "connection failed" dialog should have a "Forget this WiFi network" button on it.

  8. There's no way to use a custom ring tone for SMS messages, calendar alerts, or in fact anything except voice calls. WTF.

  9. Every time you sync, the music player turns off "Shuffle". WTF.

  10. The whole cut-and-paste mechanism really is insanely janky.

  11. The on-screen keyboard is bullshit.

Other than that, it's pretty good. It's fast, and it mostly just works.

Apps I like:

  • BeejiveIM (best IM client of a bad bunch)
  • Edge (like marble madness)
  • Eyegore's Eye Blast (like Bubbels with spinny inertia)
  • I Love Katamari
  • iBART (faster than the web site)
  • iSSH (the way it handles keys is very nice)
  • Now Playing (movie listings)
  • OpenTable
  • Photoshop Mobile
  • Remote (controls iTunes)
  • Shazam (music identifier)
  • Sol Free (solitaire)
  • Taxi Magic
  • Wikipanion (faster than the web site)
Tags: , ,
Current Music: Vitalic -- Still ♬

121 Responses:

  1. dr_memory says:

    No clue about the pop3 stuff, but sad to say every one of your other complaints is 100% accurate with, AFAIK, no particularly good workarounds. The "attach file" problem is particularly annoying since Apple will not approve 3rd-party email clients.

    • hoodooyoudo says:

      It seems to deal with email deletion properly connected to an exchange server, and I don't seem to have any trouble with imap connections to gmail. Sounds odd if it's just the pop side of things.

  2. wootest says:

    You sure can copy multiple photos. Go to a photo album and tap the swoosh arrow at the bottom left to go into select mode, then tap a bunch of photos and hit Copy at the bottom.

    • wootest says:

      Also, I've never seen the music player turn off Shuffle across syncs. The setting shuffle is toggled by tapping the album cover in the Now Playing screen and tapping the shuffle arrows. It remembers this pretty well globally.

      The "now playing playlist", if that's what you mean, may sometimes disappear when you sync if you change songs around in that playlist, which means that if you went to a playlist or album or whatever and hit the Shuffle item at the top to start playing any song with shuffle on, you'll find yourself not playing anything. Starting via Shuffle may well be a cue to set shuffle on transiently, and restore the global shuffle setting whenever that's over, but I wouldn't know.

      And yes, it's bullshit that one should have to construct mental models of this behavior like this.

      • jwz says:

        It happens every time.

        Go to "Songs", select "Shuffle". Play some songs. Note that they are in random order. Unplug the headphones to stop. Sync phone. Plug in the headphones and hit the cable button to play. It continues playing the last song it was playing, but now the next song it will play will be the alphabetically-next song, and so on, because it has lost the "shuffle" bit.

        Google reveals that I am not making this up.

        • ac78 says:

          There are two shuffle modes on the iPhone. It took me a while to realize there was a difference, but you've figured out the difference pretty quickly.

          If you choose a song to start playing and then tap on the album art to show the scrubber and shuffle bits, then toggle shuffle on, it will stay on until you turn it off. Even through syncs and reboots of the phone.

          The Shuffle item in the songs list seems to be intended for people who only occasionally want to hear their music in a random order and is generous in when it decides to turn shuffle off. Who those people are though eludes me.

          The only downside I've seen to this way is that the shuffle bit stays on even when playing specific playlists or albums. Usually not a problem for me, but I do find myself toggling it off on particular albums where the songs have an actual intended order.

          • wootest says:

            ac78 explained this pretty well. I tried to distinguish between the Shuffle item and the shuffle bit flipped by prodding the shuffle icon in the now playing screen's overlay, and I failed miserably. The first of these things kinda segue into the second, and I still think there's something more going on that I'm not getting, but I didn't mean to imply that it didn't happen for you or for anyone else. Just that it hasn't happened for me, and ac78 provides the answer: because we're using different ways.

            I also second most of the other requests on the post list, by the way, with the possible exception of the keyboard. It is the worst form of phone writing known to man, except for all those others that have been tried from time to time.

    • gmpe says:

      I send multiple photos a lot. If you click send instead of copy once the photos are selected, it opens an email with the photos attached. Not sure what size, since I don't care for my purposes, but it works.

    • bellacrow says:

      ooh, thanks for the tip. I find it so frustrating sometimes I just stop trying to figure this stuff out.

  3. yan_1976 says:

    we tried to get as close to iChat as possible with our app. i won't mention the name here for fear of getting labeled as a shameless self promoter:)

    btw, and you can only send exactly one photo is false -- you can select multiple photos to email.

  4. dojothemouse says:

    If you manually sleep your phone, it realizes you have seen your notification and shuts the hell up.

    It keeps the notification on your lock screen, but it stops pinging.

  5. berry_k says:

    I like Solitaire City a lot, and I think it comes with a Lite version so you can try it for free.

  6. elusis says:

    I've installed fring for IM and I can't speak to how it works with anything but Gchat, but I did a test conversation with sushispook the other day and it seemed to work OK. It was only a few minutes though.

    • elusis says:

      Also, I'd like to know how to make it stop launching iPhoto every time I plug it into the computer, especially when I haven't taken any new pictures.

      • jwz says:

        I solved all my iPhoto-related problems by deleting iPhoto.

      • carlcoryell says:

        Launch Image Capture with the phone plugged in and you can decide what app (if any) is launched.


        • elusis says:

          Thanks for the info.

          Rant: The idea that I should have to launch an entirely separate application that is neither iPhoto nor the Camera app on the phone in order to change this setting is beyond absurd. Boo, Apple. Boo. Total intuitive FAIL.

          Also, I'm not sure where you're getting that screen from. This is the screen that comes up when I launch IC with the iPhone plugged in:


          Clicking "options" brings up a screen with no items ticked. "Browse Devices" just brings up device specs, not the screen you have.

          • carlcoryell says:

            Huh, maybe this changed with Snow Leopard. Check the preferences for the image capture app, I think it used to be in there.

            iPhoto in snow leopard seems to have the setting as well:

            • elusis says:

              I'm on Leopard, actually. I was able to find a general preferences setting in Image Capture to turn off auto-launch with all devices, but was a little annoyed with it as I don't mind the auto-launch when I plug in my camera.

              I'm just dismayed that Apple doesn't have a "settings" tab for the Camera app that asks "auto-launch iTunes when syncing? y/n" I mean seriously people.

        • jackbrinks says:

          Holy crap. Thanks! I've just been leaving iPhoto minimized or shoved off the bottom of the screen rather than closing it every time after I sync. With 10K+ photos in it my older Mac eats up a bit of memory.

          Thank you!

      • dr_memory says:

        let me google that for you

        (I think Apple switched the defaults on this to something more sane some time back, but if you've been porting around the same user profile through a few OS upgrades you're probably still stuck with the dumb setting.)

        • elusis says:

          As noted above, that is the most absurd thing I've ever heard of, that I should have to launch an entirely separate application from either iPhoto or the Camera app to adjust that setting. Absolutely laughably bad engineering there.

        • elusis says:

          Also, thank you for the forum link - I've had exactly zero responses to any of my questions I've recently posted in Apple's forums, so it's good to know another place to at least search even if asking a new question doesn't get an answer.

      • pushupstairs says:

        connecting my iPhone has never once resulted in the launching of iPhoto.

  7. cikavo says:

    "Every time you sync, the music player turns off "Shuffle". WTF."
    Shuffle mode is offence against author of music, lyrics, against god.

    people who listen music in shuffle mode do not deserve to listen even silence.

  8. brianenigma says:

    At the risk of unleashing a storm over this-is-better versus that-is-better, have you considered IMAP instead of POP? Given that IMAP has one canonical place for mail (the server), there should be fewer synchronization/deletion issues. I've been using IMAP with the iPhone just fine for about a year and a half with no hiccups (but admittedly have no real experience with the iPhone's POP implementation).

    • jwz says:

      IMAP is bullshit.

      Having been designed in the early 80s (in Common Lisp no less), it has the "mainframe" model is that your mail reader is a thin-client terminal onto a remote server where all of your mail lives. Of course that doesn't actually work in practice, so all the mail clients keep a local cache of every message you've ever seen, and you end up with two copies of all of your mail. So in practice, everyone really uses IMAP as an over-engineered replacement for POP3. If all you use it for is for what POP3 already does, why not just use POP3?

      Also, all of the existing IMAP servers are a comical fucking nightmare to install.

      • vordark says:

        I'll add that the IMAP spec is utterly insane (over one hundred pages for the base spec, last time I checked) and I have yet to see evidence that there exists any client/server combination that makes it all work.

        And any sane person that knows what they are doing keeps their mail on their well-backed up local machine and does their processing/sorting/searching right there, making everything IMAP could give you a waste of time.

        • skington says:

          I used to have a desktop machine for home, and a laptop for work. Having my mail on an IMAP server meant that every time I needed to go to work (once a month, usually - I work from home the rest of the time), I could just download all the rest of my mail, including sent mail, and be back to speed.

          While I now only have the one laptop that I use for everything, it's occasionally useful to e.g. check mail via webmail from other systems. The ability to delete unimportant mail (spam / automated crap that I don't care about after 5 minutes / reports that I'm not going to read because they're out of date), but still have a long mail archive of other stuff (things that people emailed me ages ago, and that I didn't get around to reading, but I might want to check them out eventually) is pretty useful.

          IMAP as a protocol / implementation does appear horrendously brain-dead, though.

        • thorfinn says:


          You don't need the whole damn spec to make IMAP work perfectly fine.

          I have nine different IMAP mail accounts, two on my own debian server, four gmail ones, one at mobile me, one at work on courier imap, another at work pointing at MS Exchange. All with an awfully large number of folders, including my entire imported email history that I have since I started having my own server, all of them on multiple machines, all working perfectly fine.

          I also back up the non-work ones onto my own server (which is then backed up) up using a short script to synchronise IMAP mailboxes.

          So I have NFI what you people are on about with your hatred of IMAP. Sure, it's big. Sure, it's ugly. It also, the vast vast majority of the time, just works when you're trying to access the same mailbox from more than one machine.

          POP3? Well and good if you only ever intend to use a single machine to read your email. I happen to want to read my email on my Macbook as well as my iPhone as well as my work M$ desktop as well as in mutt if I feel like being oldskool that day.

          You can't do that with POP3 (unless you're using Gmail pop3, which isn't really pop3 since it doesn't actually delete mail).

          If you don't ever want to use more than one device to read your email, then cool.

          If you do, then IMAP is your only solution. Or M$ Exchange protocol, if you really prefer. And if you think maintaining an IMAP server is pain, then you're really going to have fun with M$ Exchange.

          • jwz says:
              If you don't ever want to use more than one device to read your email, then cool.

            I use multiple devices to read from the same POP3 account and it works great. You just tell each of them to delete mail from server after a day (or whatever your quantum is of fetching mail on each device is).

            • blasdelf says:

              Why in the flying fuck would you want a bunch of buggy-ass devices deleting the canonical copy of your mail independently of one another?

              • jwz says:

                It's not even remotely the canonical copy. It's the spool. The canonical copy is on my desktop, which polls every 30 seconds. There's nothing "canonical" about any drive owned by some ISP rather than by me.

                • blasdelf says:

                  I understand, but what if your desktop falls over? At least if your SMTP server dies your correspondents find your address undeliverable.

                  Do you trust the iPhone POP3 implementation you find so buggy to not get weird ideas about what it should be deleting?

                  • jwz says:

                    Basically, yes, because it hasn't deleted anything prematurely yet, and my experience leads me to expect some level of consistency here.

                    If it did do something stupid, I'd notice it almost immediately -- and maybe I'd lose an hour or two of mail.

                    I seem to suffer DNS- and/or ISP-related misadventures about once every couple of years that do worse damage than that, and never in my life have I had a misbehaving POP3 client delete something that it shouldn't have. And I've used quite a few. (And written.) It's far, far more common for them to fail to delete things that they should have.

                    And you know what? If I was using IMAP, and stored all of my historical email on the server, the stakes would be a lot higher, because a misbehaving client could cause all manner of mischief.

                    I'm probably the most paranoid person you might meet with regards to my email and my backups, and I don't think this is a problem at all. So take that for what you will.

                    Bitches don't know about my data integrity. Bitches don't know.

                  • houdini_cs says:

                    You may have just convinced me to switch from IMAP to POP3, despite that IMAP is working well for me. Thanks!

                  • thorfinn says:

                    Mrr? That's why I archive and snapshot all of my historical email, both on my server and copied from elsewhere.

                    If some client screws up and deletes all of my email, I can just push sync it back. Via IMAP.

                    And I've never had that happen, same as you've never had that happen with POP3.

                    It's a use case thing - if you really need server side folders and multiple clients and fully shared and synchronised message state, then you need IMAP. If you don't need any of that, then hell, no worries, stick with POP3.

                • fantasygoat says:

                  Well, that's different. I don't have a desktop to sit all day and download my mail, I just have laptops and smart phones.

                  But still, IMAP on the iphone works fine, or at least as fine as the bullshit built-in mail client lets it work. Seriously, worst mail client ever.

            • Or tell only one of them to delete after a week, if you're a little more cautious.

          • vordark says:

            POP3? Well and good if you only ever intend to use a single machine to read your email. I happen to want to read my email on my Macbook as well as my iPhone as well as my work M$ desktop as well as in mutt if I feel like being oldskool that day.

            You can't do that with POP3 (unless you're using Gmail pop3, which isn't really pop3 since it doesn't actually delete mail).

            Odd that I have managed to read my mail from multiple machines using POP3 all of these years without incident. I must be doing something wrong.

            • thorfinn says:

              Guess you don't have that much email. I'm at somewhere between several hundred to several thousand per day, procmail sorted into a variety of folders.

              I'm not doing that via POP3, noway, nohow.

      • nugget says:

        I guess if the iPhone's POP3 support is as awful as it sounds then that's incentive to use IMAP. That may be a frustrating reason, but it seems like this is another classic Apple case where embracing the most common use case is the path of least frustration.

        dovecot sort of doesn't suck but maybe I just think that because my frame of reference is limited to Courier IMAP and Exchange which definitely do suck.

      • rodgerd says:

        apt-get install dovecot worked just fine for me. Perhaps the IMAP servers feel your disdain for them and respond in kind.

      • andrewducker says:

        POP doesn't do folders.

        It also polls repeatedly, whereas IMAP IDLE means that I get messages as they arrive.

        • jwz says:

          Since I can't even do a bulk "mark all read" on any phone I've owned in the last couple of years, folders don't really sound like the one feature I should be crying about.

          If I had my phone set to beep every time a message arrived, my pants would be spurting beeps so often as to make me unpopular, so you know, I can totally live with the message list being a few minutes behind on those occasions when I choose to check my mail on the phone.

          • andrewducker says:

            I use Profimail on Symbian - and on that I can do a "mark all" and then "mark as read". It's probably the best mobile mail client I've used, and I'm going to miss it if it's not available on whatever phone I get next.

            And I couldn't live without folders - I use email as a to-do list a lot of the time, so I have all the stuff to do with my flat renovation in one folder, all the christmas presents I'm supposed to be buying on a folder, etc.

            I can see why instant mail delivery isn't necessary for you - I'm glad I only get dozens of emails a day, not hundreds :->

          • blasdelf says:

            Every one of the problems you just mentioned are due to using the Kermit of mailclient protocols.

            You don't need a "mark all read" button if all your devices share their read-status, especially not if your mail can be filtered into folders before it reaches your phone — which also solves the constant alert problem.

    • dagbrown says:

      IMAP is the worst implementation of NFS I've ever seen.

      Add to that the awesome Crispy-doesn't-understand-UTF-7-so-he-reimplements-it-wrong-ness of it, and it's something that I'm happiest never seeing again.

  9. snordemann says:

    I think I had a longer list of irritations with the iPhone until I jailbroke it. Then, while still having irritations, the list was much shorter. Also, as an added bonus found apps that I did not really realize I was missing. (LockInfo which puts a calendar and upcoming events on your lockscreen)

    Looking at your list though, I think only about 2 or maybe 3 would be addressed by doing so.

    • jwz says:


      "Hey, why don't you jailbreak it? Oh, I see that jailbreaking it would solve exactly zero of your complaints. But srsly, why don't you jailbreak it?"

      However, as a matter of principle I did jailbreak it, and after a couple of weeks of poking around, the one and only useful thing I found that jailbreaking provided was the ability to have 5 icons in my dock instead of 4. Big woop.

      Also, the jailbreaking process (blackra1n) resulted in the misfeature that if the phone ever rebooted, it went into "oh noes, plug me into itunes!" mode, meaning, any time I rebooted it I had to run the jailbreaker again. Not real convenient if it crashed while out in the field -- which, also, seemed to happen every now and then while it was jailbroken, and never happened when it was not.

      So, fuck that.

      • netsharc says:

        I had never heard of your problem, but apparently it's a known problem with phones with newer versions of iBoot (the bootloader on the device), needing a "tethered jailbreak", i.e. a for the bootloader to be told over USB to load the OS everytime the device boots up, so you'd have to wait if you want a jailbroken device.

        And in that environment you do get the developer freedoms you wanted from Palm, you can host your own Cydia repository (Cydia is basically Debian APT) and publish your own software, so a chance to write your own mail/calendar client, just like in the good old Linux days ;)

        • rapier1 says:

          Speaking of the developer problems he had on the Pre... Both of his apps are actually on preware which is a pretty excellent alternative to the App Store.

  10. frogworth says:

    Mostly totally agree, although I do use IMAP and so don't have the email problems you do (but I acknowledge your problems with IMAP; I just still find it useful).

    I would like to add:
    13. The on-screen keyboard is bullshit.
    14. The on-screen keyboard is bullshit.
    15. The on-screen keyboard is bullshit.
    and also
    16. The on-screen keyboard is bullshit.

    I also get around the alerts thing by using a jailbreak app which you're unlikely to want, because of the concomitant hassles involved. I find jailbreaking worth it for a number of reasons, but as noted, hardly any of them address your specific problems here. blackra1n is crap though, and shouldn't be seen as the real jailbreak experience.

    • lionsphil says:

      There are multiple competing jailbreak mechanisms?

      Hooray for bringing the Linux distro wars to the iPhone! "lol it'll work if you reinstall with this one instead"

      • jwz says:

        Oh, it's even worse than the Linux model. The people responsible for such things seem to mostly have names like Acid Burn and Crash Override.

    • 205guy says:

      Thing is, it's not just an onscreen keyboard, it's a pattern recognition software that's pretty smart, and seems to get smarter (I think I read it was adaptive, but I could've been dreaming). In other words, it gets better, and you get better, and soon you can just tap where the letters should be and just trust the replacement to be correct.

      Having just read a book about the telegraph (called the Victorian Internet, good overview, some really interesting insights into historical patterns, but left me wanting more info) I keep wondering if we need to look back in time to find new input models that might be better suited to small touch-screens.

      • frogworth says:

        Unfortunately for me, neither it nor I got better. I've had it since last August (i.e. 15 months) and it managed to learn *some* of my usages and not learn far more. It still un-corrects me far more than it helps, and I still find typing utterly, painfully laborious.

      • jwz says:

        Victorian Internet was cute, but it was basically a ten page Wired feature padded out to a 250-page hardcover.

  11. neacal says:

    I'm lazy, so I'll ask first before springing into action: Would you like me to file radars for your complaints, in Apple's bug database? ;)

    I think your observations are mostly spot-on. The only one I disagree with is:
    "The on-screen keyboard is bullshit."

    Of course, subjective suckage isn't debatable. But from my personal experience, I can say it no longer sucks for me:

    It does take a fair amount of getting used to - you have to learn to trust the auto-correction, and it has to learn what your paws feel like when you type (or whatever secret stuff is going on under the hood). But at this point, I can type even long emails on it, quickly, and mostly error-free. I actually type much more slowly on uloixia's Palm Pre than I do on my iPhone, because I have to hit the right key every time.

    Just as a quick test, just now I was able to type "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" in 9.5 seconds on my iPhone, without any spelling errors present after finishing. That's almost 57 wpm, without practicing.

    I tend to take some extra time at the end to proofread what I typed, but while typing, I think I'm mainly just looking "through" my phone, unconsciously keeping my fingers aligned with the keys...

    • jwz says:
        I'm lazy, so I'll ask first before springing into action: Would you like me to file radars for your complaints, in Apple's bug database? ;)

      Feel free. I've pretty much given up on filing bugs with Apple, because out of the several dozen I've filed over the last four years, I've gotten feedback on maybe two. All the rest have been DUPed and then perma-ignored.

    • elusis says:

      I would like the app store to stop asking for my password every time I download even an update to an app.

      I'm curious, jwz - what don't you like about the cut and paste function? I found it clunky at first but am getting more comfortable with it, and was rather pleased to be able to copy a phone number from my "recents" list, paste it into a text message, and send it off today.

      • jwz says:

        Sure, the ability to copy and paste in incredibly useful, and it's criminal that it took Apple 3 major-version releases before finally getting around to implementing it.

        But having it be modal, where you have to drag crop-corners around? It's incredibly clunky. What the hell is wrong with click-hold-drag? Oh right, they can't do that because they usurped that gesture for the magnifying-glass thing, which works ok, but is only necessary in the first place because they chose a touchscreen technology that makes use of a stylus impossible!

        Kludge upon kludge...

        • jwz says:

          (Pro tip: I never actually used the stylus on Palm devices, I just made sure to always keep at least one of my fingernails pointy.)

        • elusis says:

          Ah, I never had a smart phone or palm device prior to the iPhone, so this is the only type of non keyboard/mouse interface I've used. Interesting to hear it from your perspective.

    • ultranurd says:

      I've gotten fairly used to the onscreen keyboard, but my frustration now is that I seem to be too fast for it, and there's no slider to adjust how long it should expect between presses, so I regularly skip a letter because the phone treats it as a slip or something. The auto-correct can't save me because the edit distance algorithm they use favors corrections that are the same length (I guess they consider replacements more likely than insertions or deletions). That and the autocorrecter can't insert a space if that's the key I typed too quickly, so it treats two words as a single token. Some software tweaks would make me much happier with it.

    • rapier1 says:

      It really depends on what you are used to. Without practice on an iPhone I'm pretty damn slow typing. On my pre I can match your pace on the quick brown fox test. Basically, you get fast with whatever you are used to using. I just prefer physical keyboards.

      • neacal says:

        Yes, I think that's true - habituation is a powerful ally. It's amazing how fast some people got back in the days of T9 texting...

        I think both physical keyboards and virtual keyboards have their pros and cons. My point was that the iPhone keyboard doesn't suck for everyone (not me, anyway).

        The big advantage of the iPhone keyboard is that it's flexible in terms of what is shown (e.g. adding context-based keys such as ".com", or quickly switching between multiple languages), and that it can be updated to better fit new use cases at a later point in time.

        Of course, if patents are any indication, future virtual keyboards might not even lack the one big drawback they currently have: haptic feedback.

  12. down8 says:

    I just confirmed... I have no issue with accomplishing any of your tasks on my G1 - rooted Android 1.6, of course (though the rooting has nothing to do with simple accomplishment of your tasks).

    You may hate the Big G, but there are plenty of phones that aren't "with Google" phones, so don't require a Google account. Even the G1 (admittedly, once rooted) doesn't force you into Google-link-mode if you perform the correct rain dance.

    I happen to recognize many of the apps/items in your "like" list from the Android Market (which may or may not require Google-love to use). So those are available too.

    Anyhow... I shall hide now, due to the expected Google-backlash....


    • cdavies says:

      But then you're trading the "I can't do stuff" pain for the "I can do stuff, but only for six hours after which the battery dies" pain. Seriously, people who brought a G1 were robbed. But I suppose they ought to have known better than to buy any phone manufactured by HTC, so it's their own fault.

    • logic_lj says:

      I have an iPhone 3G. My wife has a G1. I'm consistently impressed with how much more I enjoy working with the interface on the G1 (particularly the physical keyboard), and then I start getting into it, and OH MY GOD THIS IS DOGSHIT SLOW. And what the hell, the battery is already dead? Well, at least she has a spare.

      A coworker, however, just bought a Droid. Do want.

      • jered says:

        The Droid is very cool, but it continues to be the absolute trainwreck that is Google UI design. I played with one and absolutely loved the hardware, but had a lot of trouble figuring out even basic things to do (beyond "start web browser").

        I think the problem has to do with the obsession with A/B testing for UI design. This is a good thing, but you need a competent designer to come up with the options to test. Otherwise you're just doing a blind watchmaker on your UI from basic elements, and it'll take you years (and millions of pissed off users) to get anywhere...

        • elliterati says:

          Gotta say, I've been using a Droid for about three weeks now, and haven't seen any of the behavior that blog talks about. It's been a great experience, and any troubles I've had have been from adapting from the way I used to do things with the Palm OS. Once I've figured out how the Android OS does it, problem solved.

          • strspn says:

            I have a Droid question: Can you copy text out of the Gmail app? I can't wait for them to fix that. I can't stand Verizon's CEO, though. He's really evil relative to the T-Mobile leadership, which at least has the German respect for labor conditions ... in Germany.

            • elliterati says:

              Hmm, now that you mention it, it doesn't seem that I can copy out of the mail client. Definitely an oversight.

              I don't have any particular loyalty to Verizon, although they have a good signal where I live, and I haven't had any dropped calls. Both were a problem with Sprint, who's the only other provider I've used.

    • The google phone is Linux for the desktop in your pocket.

      • kellyclowers says:

        I am pretty sure that describes the N900 more than any Android phone.

        • rodgerd says:

          Maemo is all the good bits of Linux (adapt it as you please, it's your playground) with some of the clunky bits (it ain't all as smooth as it could be).

          Android is like everything that's gone wrong in the world of Unix, ever. Wild divergence as each vendor tweaks it. Java. Expensive. Java. Weird ideas on UI. Java.

    • Except that no, Android isn't perfect either:

      #1 and #2 remind me of the absolutely horrible stock email client in Android. Full of bugs that haven't even been looked at, and doesn't accept self-signed SSL certificates. I've ditched it for K9, which isn't perfect, but at least works for the most part.

      #7 is on android too, you have to go home, menu, settings, network, wireless, click & hold on the network, click forget.

      Also #11: the onscreen keyboard is bullshit, but at least the G1 has a physical one.

      • elliterati says:

        The Android Mail client (at least in 2.0, which is all I have experience with) will take self-signed SSL certs, but you have explicitly tell it to do so. Under account settings, go to Security type, and select SSL (Accept all certificates.)

        • Except that doesn't actually work, since you can't get to the account settings page with that option until AFTER you've created an account. And if I turn on "TLS always" (which my server requires), it fails, because the certificate is self-signed.

          There's still an open bug for this in the Android bug tracker, I've been following it since the G1 was first released.

  13. wikkit42 says:

    For 3, I think (think!) you can swipe the pin slider then hit the off button. A little bit faster.

    I fixed the Mail related problems by using Gmail in Safari, which gets updated way more often and works well. But I'm of the impression that you won't go for that.

    • jwz says:

      Others say that if you do that, it stops beeping with reminders, which I hadn't noticed, but since it doesn't take down the notification, that means that your next notification causes it to go into the mode where it says "User1: text \n User2: text" instead of showing you the contents of the messages.

      • wikkit42 says:

        Ah, I only use it to kill the alarm, so that must be the difference.

        Other option is to get rid of the passcode. Nothing could possibly go wrong.

        Out of curiosity, do you have the failed passcode drive erase turned on? I thought that was one of the neater features.

  14. recursive says:

    I've always assumed that the lack of an included IM client is to get people to use SMS more and make AT&T more money.

  15. perlguy9 says:

    IMAP may indeed suck, but it works mostly flawlessly on the iPhone, at least with gmail as the server.

  16. antifuchs says:

    I noticed that the "store shuffle settings" behavior has gotten better a lot with 3.0 (or even before that); it used to start from the alphabetically first song in non-shuffle mode after a sync. By now, it works well enough for me; double-clicking the home button and hitting "play" adequately re-starts playing in shuffle mode.

    If your previously-playing playlist has changed in the sync, though... no idea. I usually just play/shuffle all the songs on the device.

  17. klarfax says:

    This seems like the sort of thing you'd like--steampunk flapping push toy: http://community.livejournal.com/craftgrrl/12909485.html

  18. spike says:

    8. There's no way to use a custom ring tone for SMS messages, calendar alerts, or in fact anything except voice calls. WTF.


    Now that seven out of ten Americans have an iPhone on them at any given time, the odds that the "Glass" ping you just heard is actually your phone is something less than one in a million, and yet, it might be, so you have to check.


    8a. Custom ring tones for SMS, mail, and calendar alerts.
    8b. Customer per-sender ring tones for incoming SMSes.


    8c. Remove "Tri-tone" from the standard list, as it is already internationally recognized as the iTunes "Your CD is done!" noise. "Tri-tone" may be added back to the iPhone when the iPhone gets an optical drive.

    • pavel_lishin says:

      My friends are fairly convinced that this is a feature that will be added in the next big release, designed to sell more phones, etc.

      I guess I should just go ahead and get an apple tattooed on my ass, since I'm anxiously awaiting this with glee, instead of being incredibly pissed off that the phone didn't come with this feature by default. :(

      • spike says:

        I saw a close friend of mine the other day...He said, "Stephen, why haven't you called me?"

        I said, "I can't call everyone I want. My new phone has no five on it."

        He said, "How long have you had it?"

        I said, "I don't know...my calendar has no sevens on it."

        - Steven Wright

    • luserspaz says:

      I of course left mine on "Tri-tone", which means that 99% of the time I check my phone it is a false positive. (My wife also uses "Tri-tone", so it's just as bad at home.)

    • 205guy says:

      Wait, it gets worse. Just today, a new contractor was in the cube behind mine. Turns out, the cubes are so well bolted together, that I could feel her vibrating phone through my desk. Everytime I felt the vibration, I would check my phone to see if it was just starting to ring. So I need a distinctive vibrate pattern. I suggest morse.

  19. ultranurd says:

    For apps, I'd recommend Snatch, which when combined with Snatch Server running on a Mac on the same wifi network turns your iPhone into a trackpad, admittedly crappy keyboard, app switcher, and remote. You can download remote skins that define buttons and actions for various apps; I use it for Hulu Desktop, Powerpoint, EyeTV, and DVD Player for my Mac that's rigged up to my entertainment system.

  20. roninspoon says:

    The part about the SMS tones annoys the living crap out of me. At one time I had gone to the extra effort to jailbreak the phone just to get my own SMS tones. It was a huge pain in the ass that resulted in only marginal success and opened up other problems. So I reverted. I can't recommend it, and anyone who suggests it should be ignored.

    What's interesting to me, is that so many people complain about this single nonfeature of the iPhone. It's something that's available as a matter of course on virtually every other contemporary cell phone even nonsmartones. Despite this mob of complaints, Apple has responded by not only ignoring an overwhelming customer demand, but there seems to be little, if any, discussion on WHY you can't do it. SMS tones are treated in an entirely different way than call ringtones. It leads me to speculate that the SMS tones are somehow, and for some reason, linked to the baseband firmware, in a mysterious way that the call ringtones are not.

    • cdavies says:

      You might actually be right. The iPhone employs extremely aggressive power management, to the point where the application processor is most often totally powered down. You know, the reason why there is no multitasking by order of da management.

      It might be they don't even wake the application processor at all for incoming messages, and handle the entire audio path in the baseband processor.

  21. rane500 says:

    1. I know you've already stated you hate IMAP on principle, but are you using e-mail services you've set up yourself? All of the major third-party services support it and they're the ones with the burden of administering, so we're really only talking about using an IMAP client on a single device...and it does work very, very well.

    2. I'm a little puzzled, I find it extremely easy to delete hundreds of messages at time - tap edit and then scroll down the list, tapping each one I want deleted, then hitting the delete key. The only thing I can do on a computer client that I can't do on the phone is click at the top, hold shift, click at the bottom, and have the whole list selected at once...and I wouldn't typically do that anyway since there are are always a few good messages sprinkled in with the bad. Does POP work differently? I'll admit I don't use it on any of the mailboxes linked to my phone.

    3. Drives me nuts.

    4. I have my work (Exchange) account tied into my phone and this gripe gives me no end of grief. About the only reason it doesn't completely piss me off is becaues I came from Symbian to the iPhone. Setting up a calendar alert up is fairly similar so I've already been beaten into submission.

    7. It took me a bit of digging to even figure out HOW to forget a network, and that was extremely frustrating.

    8. I know it's been said a million times by this point, but this one makes me very, very, very unhappy.

    10. Copying and pasting was touted as one of the huge new features and good lord it's terrible. I find myself avoiding it because 9 times out of 10 it won't grab the entire selection I want or it grabs too much. Worse than useless.

    11. I just have to comment - outside of having to pay closer attention to make sure I'm hitting the right keys I have no problem with the keyboard itself. I know I'm very much in the minority, but my phone typing speed went through the roof on the iPhone - fast enough to make the iPhone a valid note-taking device in meetings.

    • wikkit42 says:

      2. He specifically said that he didn't want to click 200 times to mark the messages. Most people wouldn't consider hitting a button 200 times "extremely easy" as you do.

      • rane500 says:

        Hmm...well, I can understand that position I guess, but if I were looking at a list of e-mails on my computer and need to delete 200 out of a group of 300, I would have to click each message to highlight it or punch keys to descend the list and hit delete.

        Maybe I'm misunderstanding the situation? Like I said, if it's a list of 200 and I want to delete all 200 then yes, not being able to hit the first, hold shift, then hit the last and get them all at once - that's definitely annoying.

    • thorfinn says:

      Seconded on wikkit42's response to 2. Tapping 200 times to mark-all then delete? Argh. It's a massive pain, and I can't even do what I *want* to do, which is mark-all-read.

      I usually can live with just firing up the actual laptop if I want to do real quantities of email though.

  22. hank says:

    Trillian for the iPhone is wonderful, and should do anything you want as an IM client.

    • jwz says:

      Seems like crap to me.

      I can't get it to stay connected to Jabber (and in fact it seems to go out of its way to hide whether I am connected to Jabber instead of/in addition to AIM). It still has the "you are signed on from multiple locations" AIM bug that BeejiveIM does (which is caused by the app not correctly identifying itself as a "mobile" connection) and the deal-breaker is that it will only stay connected for 24 hours (whereas BeejiveIM will stay connected for a week.)

      So that's another $5 I'm not going to get back.

      • hank says:

        As to the Jabber problem I can't speak, but I have not seen the multiple locations AIM bug, OR the 24 hour time limitation.

        • jwz says:

          The 24 hour thing is right there in the preferences, dude. 24 is as high as that setting goes.

          You see the AIM thing if you are logged in to AIM on your desktop (or anywhere else) and connect from Trillian on the phone.

          I am not making this up.

  23. dojothemouse says:

    BeejiveIM has better competition now - Meebo has a free client that supports a bunch of networks & push & has way fewer useless features. Feels a little faster to me on my 3g.


    • free
    • Suppresses AOLIM "you're signed in from two locations" bullshit
    • Sends a final push message when your session expires due to inactivity
    • doesn't try & fail to integrate addressbook entries
    • Doesn't mysteriously sign me out of gtalk after a few hours


    • Forgets my away status & message periodically (Maybe when I log in via a desktop client)

    Annoyances unchanged from BeejiveIM:

    • Keeps buzzing if I respond to an AOLIM via desktop client