Hi, my name is Lee. I'm a .NET developer. And I love my iPhone. Apparently, that means there's something very, very wrong with me.
I say this because I've learned that if you are in any way involved with (non-Apple-based) technology on a professional level, you're supposed to hate the iPhone. Even if you own one.
Well, I'm a .NET guy, and I don't hate it. So there. In fact, I think the iPhone is pretty sweet. Yeah I said it, MS fanboy. So put that in your HTTP pipeline and smoke it.
When the time finally came to replace my 4 year old Sony Ericsson, I figured I'd get myself something cool for a change. I drove my friends and store clerks crazy, trying every phone I could get my hands on. Palm? Dinosaur. Windows Mobile? Meh. And as I've blogged before, I'm naturally averse to "trendy," so the iPhone wasn't even on my radar. But all it took was a chance encounter with some chick at the local Starbucks and that was it. Two minutes of watching her tappin' and draggin' and I said "Wow, I gotta get me some of that." And oh yeah... I thought the phone was pretty nice too.
It was only then that I really started paying attention to what the technorati were saying about the iPhone. And most of it wasn't very pretty. What I've compiled below is a totally un-scientific random sampling of nits that techie-types seem to like picking most:
- No instant messaging. This doesn't bother me, because I don't do IM. However, I realize the fact that there's no native AIM, Yahoo, or MSN IM support bothers some people; probably mostly college kids who use it to score with babes. I suppose this is AT&T's way of prying open your wallet a little wider to pony up the $20/month for the Unlimited Text plan. Suck it up, Kemo Sabe.
- No Flash. Hold on... this is a bad thing? Instead of your dumb splash intro and all those crappy ads sucking up my bandwidth and killing my battery life, I get a little blue square instead. Me likey. Besides, most Flash-only sites would look awful and be a nightmare to interact with on such a small screen anyway.
- No MMS. I know a lot of people who are way into sending picture messages. The thing is, they are all girls. Come on, I mean really... do you know a single guy who's ever said "These shoes are to die for... I simply must send pix to my BFFs and see what they think" ? No, you don't. Repeat after me: Real men don't MMS.
- No custom ringtones. "Hey, I paid a whole dollar for this song. I gotta pay another dollar for the ringtone too?" Yes, you do. The dudes in Metallica have yacht payments to make, you know. But this one makes me laugh because hacking ringtones for the iPhone is so brain-dead simple, even this doofus can do it. Any techie who complains about this should have his pocket protector revoked.
- No SDK. Oh, you mean no SDK for Windows, don't you? What did you expect? It's an Apple product, so get over it. Of course, if you want to spend all your free time building iPhone apps that make Apple a buttload of cash and you nothing, be my guest. Go buy yourself a MacBook, learn Objective-C, and have at it, tough guy.
- No EVDO. If you really need to be able to whip out your phone anywhere on Earth, jump into World of Warcraft, and kill rats with a rusty sword, I say you need to get a life.
No video recording. Yeah okay, even this one bums me out a little. Shooting video on the fly is a lot of fun, and you just never know when you'll be hangin' out somewhere and catch somebody doing this. Or this. Or God forbid, even this. Sure, there are video recording apps out there, though none have been blessed by Apple -- which means you'll need to jailbreak your phone, run an SSH server on it, touch the tip of your nose while standing on one foot, and slay a fatted calf to install one. In that order.
And while we're on the subject of apps...
- Apple's Iron Fist -- This is the one that non-Apple developers really whine about. To develop an iPhone app and get it distributed, you have to apply for a certificate, get accepted, and then submit your app to Apple for approval. Some developers call this digital fascism. I call it quality control. I mean come on, have you seen the sucking sea of mire that is the world of Windows Mobile shareware? Ninety-five percent of it is pure awful. The App Store, on the other hand, is a tightly-controlled, well-oiled machine. As a user, I totally love the way Apple runs this show. That's not to say that every iPhone app is killer or even useful, but at least I know it's been developed by someone who is reasonably technically proficient, that someone will probably support it, and that it probably won't kill my cat.
Okay, enough ranting. Here are some of the reasons I dig the iPhone:
- Wicked fun. I constantly read put-downs referring to the iPhone a "toy." Yes, it does in many respects feel like a toy -- and that, of course, is part of its charm. It's a shiny, happy little package bursting with sound and bright colors and slick graphics and ooey, gooey joy. Most other phones, on the other hand, feel like appliances. Wanna tap into the ultimate UX focus group? Watch a little kid on Christmas morning. If we could get our customers to react like that to the user interfaces we build, we'd all be millionaires.
- Gives great phone. After all, this is why I bought it, right? As cell phones go, the audio quality is as good as there is out there, and the full-duplex speakerphone is better than the $400 PBX handset I've got on my office desk. But the real power is how they've integrated the phone with the other apps. I've just ridden a 600-mile leg of a motorcycle trip and its time to call it a day, so I fire up Google Maps, type in "hotel", tap on a pin in the map, then tap the phone number, and two minutes later I'm looking forward to a hot shower and some ESPN.
- The best damn mobile web browser, period. Nothing beats mobile Safari for surfing on-the-go. It renders full pages the way they were meant to be seen, and the interactive touch-and-tap zoom and scroll makes interacting a breeze. And the way Safari handles multiple open pages is the way every mobile browser should be doing it.
- Best iPod ever. The sound quality is awesome, the video is stunning, and you gotta love the ability to pause, skip songs, and take phone calls right from the headphone cord dongle. Brilliant.
- Solid mobile gaming platform. The iPhone is already giving the Ninentdo DS a run for its money; and given the available processing power, I believe the games thus far available -- amazing as some of them are -- have barely scratched the surface of what the iPhone can really do. In the meantime, I'll be working my way through the various tracks in Moto Chaser.
- No-fuss WiFi. It finds available wireless networks automatically and asks if you want to connect. How cool is that? (Connect to a hotspot once, and it'll remember it the next time you visit.) On the other hand, it takes six clicks to join a network on my girlfriend's Samsung BlackJack. This feature is great for sniffing out "unadvertised" hotspots and unsecured networks, which you can often find in the strangest places.
- Syncs like a dream. Hook the thing up to my PC, and it backs up and syncs my songs, videos, contacts, everything, flawlessly and automagically. This is better than 1-click, it's no clicks. Now, that's what I'm talkin' about.
Look, I'm no Apple fanboy by any means (I'm still running OS9 on my 7-year-old PowerMac G3, if that tells you anything), so I'm not here to tell you the iPhone will save the world or cure cancer or anything. I understand the iPhone has its flaws, as all smartphones do. I understand that most of its features are available on other platforms. I also understand that a good deal of the iPhone's true potential has been hobbled -- partly because of Apple's desire to control the platform, and partly due to its affiliation with AT&T -- and if you're a tech person, that's bound to get under your skin. But what I don't understand is how bashing the iPhone has joined such popular pastimes as Running Ubuntu and Hating George Lucas as the new Geek Badge of Honor.
I'm a .NET developer, and yes, I love my iPhone. Is that so wrong?
If it is, I don't wanna be right.
Subscribe to this blog for more cool content like this!