01 March 2010


Just for a change, I am ill. I was going to do all sorts of constructive things today, but between pain and painkillers I have the attention span of a gnat (hat tip to Sheldon for the gnat quote). So I'm going to rant. Because that comes naturally and requires little concentration. As you've probably already gathered if this isn't the first post here you've read.

iWant an iPhone. I really, really, want an iPhone. The phones themselves aren't all that special; but they've captured the imagination of every software developer so there's literally an app for everything. Want do do your shopping on the move? There's an app for that. Watching a film and you want to know where you've seen that actor before? There's an app for that. Trouble sleeping at night? There's an app for that. Trying to find a laptop-friendly café? There's an app for that.

I've got an iPod Touch which is basically like an iPhone without functioning as a phone. So you can send Email using it as long as you've got a WiFi connection, you can surf the web on it as long as you've got a WiFi connection, you can Tweet on it as long as you've got a WiFi connection... Basically it's a useful little gadget until you take it out of the house and then it only functions as an mp3/mp4 player. But that's OK, because I only needed it as an mp3/mp4 player. Having an iPod Touch has given me an insight into whether or not the iPhone would be accessible to me: And the answer is a great big no.

It's a great little gadget for playing music on, browsing the web on and checking my Facebook notifications on. My access problem with it comes as soon as I start to type: It's excruciatingly painful. Typing on a touchscreen means you have to keep all your other digits held back well away from the screen otherwise they'll brush against it and type something random. And I really need to rest my fingers on my phone's keyboard like you do when proper touch typing. Having to keep my digits curled up away from the screen makes my RSI-addled arms scream "pain! Pain! PAIN!"

I know I'm not the only person to have access problems with the iPhone, check out Geoff Adams-Spink's review.

And I thought the days of inaccessible phones died along with those stupid pokey pen things ("stylus" I believe was the technical term). I can't grip an actual pen, so why on earth would a small poking device be any easier to hold?

ATMac's article about Dragon's dictation software for iPhone/iPod makes it look slightly more manageable, but a big problem with speech-to-text software is background noise. I use Dragon's NaturallySpeaking on my PC and my upstairs neighbour's TV interferes with it, so I can't imagine that dictating a text message in a noisy pub is going to work. At all.

I'm not anti-touchscreen. I think they're ace. Wanting to click a link and just being able to poke it is a brilliant thing. I just can't type on a virtual keyboard because of "ow". Which is where Google's G1 comes in. It has both a touchscreen and a slide out QWERTY keyboard. I've had a play with Lilwatchergirl's G1 and it seems to be a piece of genius. So why haven't I got one of them? Because they're only available on T-mobile and their network coverage is rubbish. Virgin Mobile use T-mobile's network and I know from trying to use my Virgin mobile broadband dongle that you basically can't get a T-mobile signal outside of London.

So I'm stuck with a rather crappy BlackBerry Curve 8520. I call it "crappy" because in many ways it's worse than its predecessor, the 8310. The 8310's camera had a flash, the 8520's does not; so you can't take photos indoors. The 8310 had GPS, the 8520 does not. And the 2D limited palette icons on the 8520 look miserable compared to the 3D multicolour picture icons on the 8310. So why didn't I return my 8520 at the end of my 14 day evaluation period and keep on using my 8310? 2 reasons: 1) The 8520 has WiFi so I can get decent speed internet on it indoors. 2) It has a web browser that works adequately, the one on the 8310 was utterly useless.

While the iPhone has an app for everything, the BlackBerry has very few apps, and most of them are rubbish:

The App World store has just about 2,000 apps available for download, compared to the iPhone App Store’s 90,000 apps or Android’s 12,000.

From http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/11/blackberry-innovative-edge/

In my experience Tweetie for iPhone is the best way to access Twitter. It's wonderful. It makes ÜberTwitter look pretty pants in comparison (but I will admit that ÜberTwitter has got a lot better lately). The Facebook app for BlackBerry has, again, gotten better recently; but it's still rubbish compared to Facebook for iPhone and I usually end up accessing Facebook on my phone via http://m.facebook.com. Absolute Radio have had an iPhone app out for ages. I got all excited a couple of weeks ago when I found out that they'd finally released their long promised BlackBerry app, only to discover that it's only for 3 models and the 8520 isn't one of them. And Safari on the iPhone makes BlackBerry's built in browser look like it belongs in the 1990s.

After all this ranting, what would make me happy? Simple: If Apple made an iPhone with a slide out QWERTY keyboard like the G1 phone. If they did bring out such a thing I'd sell a kidney to be able to afford one on the day of release. As a consolation prize I'd be satisfied if BlackBerry joined the twenteens.

1 comment:

  1. I think the G1 is going to be available on more networks soon-ish. I can't recommend it too highly. iPhone has nothing on the G1, especially for us crappy-motor-skills/hand pain types.

    When my contract's up, though, I might try this http://www.motorola.com/Consumers/US-EN/Consumer-Product-and-Services/Mobile-Phones/Motorola-DROID-US-EN?localeId=33 or this http://www.motorola.com/Consumers/US-EN/Consumer-Product-and-Services/Mobile-Phones/Motorola-CLIQ-US-EN?localeId=33, both on Android (i.e. all the Google apps). If they've come to the UK, that is. I'm not sure if/when that's supposed to happen.