Sunday, July 13, 2008


So after arising at 6am, lining up at 6:45am, getting into the store at 10am, returning to the store at 3pm, returning to the store the next day at 1pm, returning to the store at 5pm, we got our iPhone 3Gs.

I was fifth in line at our store, which was sent a total of 10 phones: 1 Black 16 GB, 1 White 16 GB, and 8 8 GB. After some discussion with Sara [who: 1) had to be present to get our phones because she's the primary account member on our Telus phones, which we want numbers ported from; and 2) had an appointment "over town" and had to leave], we figured on getting two 8 GB phones. Sara left, and I filled out paperwork to guarantee that we'd get the phones and left, since activation wasn't working. Problem: all their 8 GB phones are White. Sara is not going to be happy. I console myself with the fact that these phones will be well covered in protective cases and don't mention it. I left about 10:30/10:45. Elapsed time: 4:30; Time at store: 4:00.

We came back mid-afternoon, and finished some more paperwork, but left after about 45 minutes when it was clear that activation was still going very slowly. Elapsed time: 9:00; Time at store: 4:45.

Next morning I fielded a couple of calls from the store and stopped by on my way home from a team meeting, after getting two cases from the Apple Store. The phones are activated, but will probably have temporary numbers for at least a while. On the plus side, they are both Black! But there are two critical numbers associated with them and somehow each phone got one number assigned of their own and the other number of the other phone. Oops. I'll come back later on our way out the VPOE event. Elapsed time: 31:00; Time at store: 5:15.

We swing by on the way to dinner and the VPOE to pick up the phones. I know they are active, because my old Telus phone stopped working a couple of hours ago. Elapsed time: 35:00; Time at store: 5:16.

However, the phones don't actually work yet. They require access to iTunes and the activation servers. No one has mentioned this to us. So we spend the evening with two bricks.

After the VPOE event, we arrive home about 11:30, and spend the next 2 1/2 hours playing with the iPhones. These are extremely cool devices. I almost had to threaten Sara to get her to stop playing with hers and go to sleep.

First off, they are nicely functional phones, which include a number of features that now seem obvious, but which I've never had on a phone before:

  • A "be silent now" switch. Instead of having to maneuver through the phone's UI, you just flick a switch on the side, and it now only vibrates (or doesn't even do that if you want, but that feature you must set in the UI);
  • Browsing that actually works. Whether on WiFi or 3G, Safari works just about like you'd expect it to;
  • Maps & GPS;
  • Integration with the desktop. Mail, Contacts, Bookmarks, Calendars all just jump over. I have had this before with a Palm phone, but this works better.

And the AppStore. It's not all great, but there are some nice things there. Bejeweled looks like Bejeweled, for instance :-). There's Remote, which makes using iTunes for your house sound system very possible and will, I think, drive sales of Apple TV. Lots of news feed apps, note-taking apss, recording appes, etc. There's even a decent eBook reader (BookShelf), although there's no MobiPocket reader yet.

Mostly, though, this device is something new. It's between a phone and a laptop, with much of the usefulness of a laptop for quick data access (where's a restaurant, what are the movie times, can I just see if someone has emailed me about X, ...) without the pain of carrying a laptop. You can't (or at least you'd be crazy to) write long documents on an iPhone. But you can quickly respond to an email or SMS, use AIM (but only with one account -- I use Adium to get a bunch of accounts all together), get directions to where you need to be, and so on.

It's not that this capability didn't exist before, it's that it wasn't easy and convenient and in the hands of people (like Sara) who aren't geeks or didn't grow up with SMS.

It's like GPS means you're never lost again. Now you're connected whenever you need to be.

So now you need the discipline to disconnect once in a while. Good luck with that one :-)