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Thoughts on the New iPhone & What's Still Missing

This entry was original posted on June 18, 2009, on the original This Lamp and has been moved to this site.


Tomorrow, the iPhone 3GS will be released, essentially the third itteration of Apple’s iPhone in two years. I had the first generation iPhone. I stood in line outside of an AT&T store on the day it was released, not out of impatience, but for the sheer fun of it. I even literally got the t-shirt (you can see it here). I had no plans to buy the second iPhone, the iPhone 3G. Yes, it had GPS built in which the first iPhone did not have, and it had faster internet connections when away from WiFi, but that wasn’t reason enough for me to upgrade.

However, I have an iPhone 3G anyway. A few months ago, a friend of mine (you know who you are) needed my first generation iPhone so that he could hack it to run on TMobile (evidently, you can hack the first generation phones to run on other carriers, but not later models). So, I told him if he bought me the iPhone 3G, he could have my first generation iPhone. Done.

Now, I don’t plan to buy the 3G S any more than I intended to upgrade to the 3G. However, like last time, if someone wants my current one and wants to buy me the new one, I’m not going to refuse that offer. The advantage of the new phone? Well, it has a better camera, video capture, digital compass, voice control, a faster processor and more RAM. Really, this is a more compelling upgrade than the previous one, but not compelling enough to make me go out and spend the money for the new one.

In fact, my current iPhone, the iPhone 3G is going to remain on the market at a reduced price of $99. That says a lot for the fact that it still has a lot of life in it.

Plus, Apple had done something that is not typical on most smart phones--they’ve allowed the user of previous phones to upgrade to the new features of an updated OS. Yesterday, iPhone 3.0 firmware was released, and I updated both Kathy’s first generation iPhone and my 3G iPhone to the 3.0 software. There are lots of new features, and you can see most of them at this link. There really are some compelling features in the update, including some that should have been there from the beginning (copy, cut & paste for instance), so I get a new iPhone experience without buying the new iPhone.

Another friend of mine emailed me a few days ago. He had noticed the reduced price on the current iPhone to $99. He said, “Is there any reason to get the new iPhone, as opposed to the old one? They put the old one on sale for $99.00.” I explained to him the differences I mentioned above and suggested the current $99 3G is just fine.

He replied, “If you were buying the iPhone for the first time, which one would you buy?”

My answer? “The new one. I never buy last generation.”

Two years ago, I wrote about the convergence of technologies brought by the iPhone. It has not been all that long ago (2003 to be exact--before buying a Palm Treo) that I carried three devices: a Palm PDA, a cell phone, and an iPod. The Treo combined two of those, but the iPhone combined all three.

I began carrying around a PDA device in 1998. That year I bought a Palm Pilot Professional with 1 MB of RAM. This was back in the day that Palm PDAs still has “US Robotics” on the case. Over the years I had a series of Palm PDAs (my favorite being the Palm V) before moving to the iPhone.

I have never stopped using a PDA in one form or another. It is really the most valuable aspect of my iPhone. In the old days I had to physically sync my data with my PDA using a cable between the PDA and my computer--something was a daily task performed religiously. In spite of all the problems with the release of MobileMe last year, and despite the fact that the service is somewhat overpriced, I have to admit that it has really served me well. I don’t have to physically sync my iPhone to my computer to keep calendars and contacts the same. It’s done wirelessly, sometimes seemingly instantaneously. Not only that, but MobileMe keeps my MacBook Pro and my desktop G5 in sync as well. I can still remember years ago, using a Palm device as a means to sync two separate computers.

And yet, it’s still not an all-perfect world. The new iPhone 3.0 firmware released yesterday finally brought copy, cut, & paste as well as global searching to the iPhone. To its credit, I had both of these on my Palm Pro in 1998. Plus, I’m still not convinced that a finger is always superior to a stylus. The iPhone makes for a slick demo when you show someone how easy it is to maneuver with just the swipe of a finger. But occasionally, an optional stylus would allow for movements needing a bit more precision.

As the iPhone continues to improve, here are three things I hope will be implemented in the future.
The fact that my list has grown much shorter gives me great hope.

  1. Sync my To Do List! iCal on the Mac comes with a To Do list feature. I’ve grown to use it pretty regularly to remind me of the things I need to get done during the day or in days to come. But there’s not an equivalent app on the iPhone! This is in spite of the fact that it’s a pretty standard feature on other smart phones and was on my Palm over a decade ago! Right now I use Appigo’s ToDo app on the iPhone. I may write a separate review later. It is pretty good, but there are some drawbacks. I don’t understand why a To Do app wasn’t on the iPhone from the very first day.

  2. Pocket Quicken. I’ve been using Quicken on my Mac since 2002 and I’ve never even been one penny off when I reconcile my accounts--not once in seven years! I swear by it. On my Palm Tungsten T and then my Palm Treo 600, I had Pocket Quicken. I could enter transactions from my checking account/debit card during the day and sync them to desktop Quicken when I got home. This may very well what I miss most from my Palm days. Now I have to tuck receipts into my shirt pocket during the day and keep myself disciplined about entering them into Quicken as soon as I can. LandWare, the makers of Pocket Quicken, never say they aren’t going to make an iPhone version; they merely say they aren’t planning anything at the present. Yes, I know that Intuit offers an online version of Quicken that has an iPhone friendly screen. However, the online version cannot import desktop Quicken files. I’ve got too much information in here to start over.

  3. I know this will sound extra geeky, but I’d really like to have a foldout bluetooth keyboard for my iPhone. Years ago, I had the Stowaway Portable Keyboard that I used with my Palm III. I still remember the first day I had it, unfolding it in front of an individual who worked on computers for a living. He said, “Man, you just out-geeked me.” Yes, it often looked to some as being over the top, but it was so handy when needing to simply use something less than a laptop for hammering out text for longer than 30 seconds. Just the other night, I was at church taking minutes in a business meeting. I was using my 15” MacBook Pro which is what I’m writing this on. The back of the screen was pinched up against the seat in front of me. My laptop, handy as it is, was too much. I needed something smaller. I’ve thought about getting a cheap netbook and hacking it with OS X, but that’s hard to justify, too. I really just need a keyboard for my iPhone--especially since Documents to Gowas finally released this week for the iPhone (another app I had for years on the Palm platform).

Some days I actually miss my Palm. But I also like the convergence of devices that the iPhone represents. So, I’ll be patient. With some things, you just can’t go back. And in truth, we’re all so spoiled regardless in the big picture.


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Reader Comments (1)

Below are the original comments for this post. Please continue any discussion here:

Joe Miller
yea, that is crazy a mac phone does not even syc with mac apps!!
August 2, 2009, 5:20:51 PM EDT – Like – Reply

R. Mansfield
I don't know, Joe. There is a Google app for the iPhone that provides access to most Google applications like the calendar, email, Google docs, etc., but I didn't see anything for the To Do list. Someone who may use it regularly may know how to access it.

My hunch is that eventually the iPhone will sync with the To Do list in iCal. I think it's preposterous that in version 3, it still does not. I've been using Appigo to sync. It has to be done manually, but it can be done over wifi.
August 2, 2009, 8:20:09 AM EDT – Like – Reply

Joe Miller
I started using the ToDo list on my Google Calendar. With the access of iPhone to the net, do you think this is the way to go in the future?

I don't have an iPhone because I use Verizon for my mobile carrier... but I dream sometimes.
August 2, 2009, 3:47:19 AM EDT – Like – Reply

Apple intended to put TODO list synching into 3.0, but they forgot to, because the engineers weren't able to sync their TODO lists.
July 13, 2009, 3:33:14 AM EDT – Like – Reply

I too used Palm OS devices for years, although not as long as you. My latest one was the Sony Clie T665c. I replaced it about a year ago with a Nokia N800. However, there is now a Palm OS emulator for the N800. It works wonderfully. I love having my graffiti back, my old apps back, and suc, while still having a full web browser, BT (including a foldout keyboard!), and so forth.
June 29, 2009, 3:58:15 PM EDT – Like – Reply

Well, it's a long and pained discussion, but convoluted IRS rules are forcing me to throw out (I literally must destroy it) my current cell phone (an AT&T Tilt, which I love) and buy a new cell phone. Worse, the AT&T Tilt is no longer offered, and the current Windows Mobile phones are ... [well, this is a family blog, so I won't actually spell out the word].

The finalists are the 3GS and the Google Ion.
June 26, 2009, 10:06:57 PM EDT – Like – Reply

R. Mansfield
Kevin, check out the new Documents to Go from DataViz for the iPhone:

You can read and write Word files now and Excel support is coming.
June 25, 2009, 12:05:12 PM EDT – Like – Reply

I too am a PDA user. I used to have the HP ipaq. Then got the Palm Treo 750. It was awesome with Outlook, and other things that I use. My wife wanted to get an iPhone and I decided to do it as well, my biggest concern was will my Outlook. Not only did it sync with the contacts and contact pictures, but my calender as well. HOWEVER, not my tasks. So I found the Franklin Covey Tasks, which is what I used to use in Paper... and it has that great ABC priority listing.
So yea to be honest, I love it. Now one thing I hated is that in the Palm Treo, I had the Pocket Bible software with 6 different translations. I love useing that if I am going to a conference or event where carrying a Bible would be a pain. That way I had my Bible in my phone. Well said to say, they do have it available for the iPhone at some much a MONTH! Ahhhh no thank you. I use the NET and the ESV for the iPhone. Just wish there was a way to do the TNIV or NIV on the iPhone with out a cost, but nope. So the ESV and the Net will be just fine.
I have heard that there is going to be an app soon coming out that will let you use Microsoft Office on the iPhone. If they do that, I may just not use my laptop on the go!

And yes I am still a PC user and use Windows XP, Vista and 7. NOT a Mac user.
June 25, 2009, 12:03:43 AM EDT – Like – Reply

Robert Jimenez
Rick, if I were buying the new iPhone for the first time I would buy the Palm Pre Which I will as soon as it is available on Verizon.
June 24, 2009, 5:12:46 PM EDT – Like – Reply

Tommy Lane
I'm debating on whether to upgrade from 3G to 3GS, but I don't feel compelled to do it. My compulsiveness may increase by the end of this weekend, though.

I bought Docs to Go the other day. I like it. That app was one of the most used ones on my Palm Treo.

3.0 is very slick. I like Apple's implementation of cut and paste, too.

I went to an Apple store after work. My sync cable was pretty beat up from hanging around my pants pocket with loose change. They replaced it for nothing; also replaced my headset when I pointed out the rubber on buds was starting to come undone. I'm going to keep both of those things out of my pockets from now on.

You have to love Apple's customer service. It's top notch and stands well above the rest.
June 18, 2009, 10:43:47 PM EDT – Like – Reply

Matthew Johnson
Andy Ihnatko on MacBreak Weekly has been talking about the foldout keyboard for a few weeks now. I completely agree. I had one for my Palm Tungsten C (loved that one, especially when I bought it again as a Treo!) and took pages and pages of notes anywhere I went. I just got Docs to Go (also had on the Palm) for the iPhone and eagerly await a keyboard of some sort.
June 18, 2009, 1:18:37 PM EDT – Like – Reply

June 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterR. Mansfield

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