I was playing around with Safari Extensions the other day, trying to figure out something simple just to play with and work through the process.
Anyway, although I do like the site, lefsetz.com is really annoying in that it uses the crosshair cursor as the default. It just drives me mad. So here is a simple Safari extension that resets the cursor on lefsetz.com to the default. Aaaand now I can read the site again.
Shortly after getting my hands on an iPhone 4 yesterday John, Ben, and Myself were interviewed by a reporter from ComputerWorld. Turns out he was writing an article specificly around the new feature of the iPhone 4 called FaceTime. I saw the FaceTime article this AM, very nicely done. It can be found here.
The reporter sent me an email this AM looking for my comments on the phone, and I put together what seems to make a perfect Blog post. So here are my thoughts:
The signal problem that some folks have encountered while holding the phone in their hands:
The GSM signal attenuation when holding the device hasn’t been an issue for me as of yet. However, I do hold my phone in my right hand naturally, so this probably explains why I haven’t seen the issue in normal use. I have been able to confirm the signal degraded issue by holding the lower left hand corner of the device in my left hand, but it was not a huge drop in signal (from 5 to 3 bars) in the area I tested in. As reported around the net and by Apple, the Bumper case does indeed solve for inadvertently interrupting the signal.
How important is FaceTime? Has it worked well?
I see some promise in FaceTime, but with the inability to allow it to work seamlessly over 3G its use is isolated to areas where I have WiFi. Which does cover most places I tend to be in a normal business week, but doesn’t solve for being out and about. I hope that Apple and the carriers figure out how to make this work out on the network, but I suspect that the lack of smooth video we saw on a crowded WiFi network outside of the Apple store would only be too frequent of an experience on AT&T’s already congested network. What I found really interesting is that even over a crowded WiFi the video went to a “slideshow” like experience but the audio never once dropped out. So it seems like their protocol is making the right tradeoffs to keep the conversation flowing even when there are signal issues.
John and I did re-create the FaceTime test we did outside of the Natick Apple Store later in the evening when I was at the Intuit office in Waltham on WiFi and he was at Home on WiFi via our Verizon FiOS connection. The video between networks was seamless and smooth even when switching between the front and back facing camera. There is definitely potential in how well this works.
FaceTime today is limited to just the iPhone 4. I hope more vendors and app makers consider implementing the new protocol over time, but for the time being FaceTime is limited to those who can afford to upgrade or buy the iPhone 4. I hope to see other folks like Skype either add the FaceTime protocol, or make use of video conferencing in their own protocols to allow a much broader use and make Video calling more pervasive. I also hope to see Apple add FaceTime to their already great iChat program for the Mac. Until that time… we just have to wait and see what folks use this for in their day to day lives.
What is the best thing about the new iPhone 4?
There’s a few really great things about the new iPhone that I’ve found since having the device in hand. By far, the biggest improvement everyone can see is the screen. It’s super clear and definitely lives up to its name. On top of the screen being super high resolution, I’ve found it easier to view outside (probably due to the IPS technology) but it still does become un-viewable in extremely direct sunlight (as just about every smartphone on the market is today).
The phone is very fast and on par with the iPad in speed thanks to the A4 SoC in the device. This helps across the board with making web surfing and app loading/switching smoother and more seamless. The iPhone 3GS was no slouch, but with the latest generation of phones powered by Google Android and Windows Phone 7 getting more powerful CPU cores, the iPhone 4 is defiantly positioned to remain a formidable opponent in the market this year.
Battery life so far does seem muchly improved. As much as I’ve loved my iPhones through the years – as many users have found, if you actually use them for everything you want to use them for throughout the day you tend to run low on battery. The iPhone 4 so far seems to have a much improved battery/energy profile. Through all of my demoing yesterday around the office, the battery meter showed I had plenty of battery left. I didn’t feel the need to plug my phone in and give it a quick charge to make sure I could make it through the rest of the day.
Behind the scenes there’s some great improvements I appreciate as well. The GSM upload speeds are MUCH better. In my speed tests in the past 3G was limited to between 100kb/s – 300kb/s but now in speed test results I’m seeing 600kb/s-1500kb/s upload speed in the Waltham area. This shows a pretty large improvement when sending mms messages, emails, tweets with pictures attached, etc.
I’ve also seen a great improvement of the accuracy of the GPS. On my iPhone 3GS the Tom Tom app was good, but from time to time during my commute it would show me jumping off the road and recalculate my route. Under the iPhone 4 my GPS position is found very quickly and is very accurate as I drive around town. I look forward to seeing how the GPS works around Boston, where in the past the buildings have blocked GPS signal and left me driving in circles J
Finally, one of the things that has a growing potential is the Gyro. I have grabbed a new game from ngmoco called “Gun Range” that really shows off how accurate the Gyro can be. My experience with the game so far has proven the promised precision accuracy that Steve Jobs talked about in the demo on stage at WWDC. I look forward to seeing what app wizards come up with to do with the technology over the coming months.
What is the worst thing?
On the downside, even with all of the effort that Apple put into the build quality of the device, I’m still scared that I’m going to break it. I remember having this feeling with the original iPhone, and indeed I never did break the device even though it took a few tumbles from time to time…. But I worry that the glass is going to get damaged. The Bumper case definitely makes me feel more confident in my ability to protect the device but it doesn’t completely solve my concern with it’s open back. Apple’s AppleCare doesn’t cover accidental damage, and the AT&T plan for that type of thing is prohibitively expensive.
The other concern I have so far is around the Bumper case itself. It’s also got a great build quality as we’ve come to expect from Apple. But the case itself does add some limitations to the Phone as far as accessories go. The bottom connector doesn’t have enough clearance left to right to allow most of my 3rd party and iPod sync cables to fit while the case is on the device. The Apple provided iPhone cables that have come with the iPhone since its initial launch fit perfectly, however. The same is true about the headphone jack. Without the Bumper case on the iPhone 4’s headphone jack is nicely flush with the top of the phone and allows any headphone to plug into it without issue. However the Bumper case design brings back the all too familiar “deep” headphone jack of the original iPhone. Most headphone manufactures made modifications to thin out their mini-plug surroundings so they fit into the original iPhone shortly after its release. I’m sure in Apple’s view this is more that the 3rd party vendors not completely following suit with Apples mantra that “smaller is better”. However, I wish Apple had just made the openings in the Bumper case bigger to accommodate 3rd party accessory compatibility.
Am I glad I took the plunge?
In a word, yes. This iPhone is by far the best mobile phone I’ve ever used. It will be hard pressed for any one to come even close this year. I hope to see some great innovation out there this year… I just don’t see anyone putting the attention to detail that Apple does into their products.
That said, I’m pretty bought into the Apple ecosystem with all the Apps I have for the iPad, iPhones, iPod’s as well as content I’ve grabbed in the iTunes store for my Mac’s, PC’s, and Apple TV’s. Theres no doubt that i’m an Apple fanboy… but can you blame me? They build beautiful stuff. Sure at times there are flaws, there always will be in any product. I think Apple consistently takes the right bets and puts their energy into what’s important for success… and it might be expensive but in the end you get what you pay for.
My logic on the yearly upgrade cycle is simple. Over a course of the next year with AT&T until the inevitable next iPhone comes out, I’ll pay around $1320 to AT&T to use the device. For my line of work, I would need to pay that no matter WHAT device I use to do it. For me, paying $199-$299 to get to play with new stuff, push the edge of what’s possible, and have the latest tech in my pocket…. is well worth the expense. Besides, I’ll be selling my 3GS – so the full out of pocket cost on my yearly upgrade is probably the same I will pay to go out to dinner tonight… at a table dimly lit by the warm glow of at least 2 new iPhone 4 screens.
Apple kindly sent me a reminder to get a new iPhone. Good thing they did…I had almost forgotten. No. Not really.