Strong opinions, weakly held

Tag: iPhone (page 3 of 4)

Dangerous Liaisons with Apple

Here’s a dramatic reenactment of this conversation between an iPhone developer and the Apple representative who let him know his application was being removed from the store because it “duplicates features of the iPhone”:

Explaining the iPhone’s success

Every time a new iPhone is released, there’s a spate of articles that analyze the its success as a product. My friend Stephen O’Grady puts the success of the iPhone down to the apps. He’s got a point — the applications available for the iPhone are great. But the truth is that when the iPhone launched, the only opportunity for developers was to create Web sites that were optimized for the iPhone’s Web browser, and Apple was still selling a ton of phones.

Why? Because of usability. The iPhone offered a better experience than any other phone for making phone calls. Checking voice mail, conducting three way calls, and managing contacts are all light years better than they are anywhere else. The iPhone offered better Web browsing than any other mobile phone. Blackberry email is better than iPhone email, but the iPhone’s email experience is better than every other phone on the market.

That was the real secret to the iPhone’s early success, in my opinion. Apple spent a lot of time not only adding capabilities not available in other phones, but also perfecting the things that people were already using their phones to do. It made the wait for real applications tolerable.

Links from June 3rd

Satirical programming

The folks behind the iPhone Twitter client Tweetie have added a brilliant spoof of the economics of the App Store. It must be incredibly frustrating to work hard on applications that are innovative and interesting, only to be upstaged in the popularity rankings by fart noise generators and “flashlight” applications. This is the best response I’ve seen.

Free Software Foundation vs iPhone

The Free Software Foundation’s list of reasons why you should avoid the iPhone have gotten plenty of coverage, which is of course the point of making such a list. I assume their tactics are the same as Greenpeace’s criticism of Apple’s environmental practices.

The goal is, of course, to get Apple to change its behavior, but I suspect the primary goal is also to educate consumers about the aims of the groups making the criticism. Apple is more effective than any other company in technology at garnering tons of press coverage, most of it positive. Activist groups target Apple with the knowledge that it’s the best way to advance what I expect is probably their primary goal — publicizing their cause.

The FSF wants consumers to think about their definition of free software, the risks of DRM, and how your software may expose your private information without your knowledge. Criticizing Apple on those grounds is clearly an effective way to get that message out in front of the public.

In the end, Greenpeace was successful in getting Apple to change its practices, but I suspect that was less important than the light they shined on the bad environmental practices that pervade the computer manufacturing industry. I also think it’s more important that more customers will be thinking about whether they will accept DRM and who is allowed to control what software they put on their phone than is any success the FSF might have in provoking change from Apple. That’s probably a good thing, because I think it was easier for Apple to reduce its packaging and do a better job of recycling old parts than it will be for them to give up some of the control they’re exercising over the iPhone platform.

iPhone 2.0 password masking

Apple made a clever user interface change with iPhone 2.0:

iPhone password masking

When you enter text into a password field, it briefly displays the character you just entered. After a few seconds, it changes the character into the mask, but it gives you some visible feedback that you’re entering the characters you think you’re entering. (I always had problems entering passwords correctly until this feature was added.)

It’s an acknowledgement that entering text using a virtual keyboard isn’t foolproof, and it provides a good compromise between masking passwords so people can’t see your password over your shoulder and enabling users to avoid typos when entering them.

By the way, this screen shot was taken using the new screen capture feature in iPhone 2.0.

Update: Commenters have noted that other phone makers have been doing it this way for years. I guess what this really means is that the iPhone is the first phone that I’ve ever used to enter a password.

Will Blackberry users like the iPhone?

John Gruber digs into opinion among Blackberry users on the iPhone’s virtual keyboard. My theory on the iPhone has been that people switching from non-smart phones will love it, and that people who are switching from other smart phones probably won’t like it. If you are already a heavy Blackberry user, the loss of productivity switching brings on probably doesn’t compensate for the areas where the iPhone is superior to the Blackberry.

I didn’t have a huge amount of evidence to support that theory, just my own preconceived notions and the case of my Blackberry-dependent friend who tried to switch to the iPhone and wound up returning it and getting a newer Blackberry instead.

It’ll be interesting to see if the upcoming features for the iPhone make it worth it for Blackberry users to ditch their mad Blackberry skills and start over.

Links for April 19

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