The morning after
Sep 10, 2007

I've now spent a weekend (and weekday) playing with my iPhone. So far I've discovered nothing to dampen my enthusiasm about it. In fact, I probably like it even more than I did before. Having confirmed that the touchscreen wasn't a significant impediment to typing or dialing the only concerns I had left were the low speed of EDGE for data transmission and the lack of an IM client on it. Neither of those things are concerns anymore. While EDGE is slow, it's sufficient for the basic needs of email and looking up driving directions with the built-in google maps application (which is completely awesome; a fun test is to center the map on your current location and then just type 'starbucks'—or 'dunkin donuts'—into the search bar and watch all the little red map pins drop out of the sky skewering your local caffeineries of choice). As for IM, I've always been a huge fan of, a web-based, multi-protocol IM app. They've been my favorite Web 2.0 app for as long as Web 2.0 has been around, and their recently released iPhone optimized version doesn't disappoint. Unlike most sites, you don't even need to go to a special address to get to the iPhone version: just type into your browser and it automatically detects that you're using an iPhone and shows you the correct interface. You can log into any account for any protocol they support (AIM, MSN, Yahoo!, Gtalk, ICQ, and Jabber) or into your already existing meebo account (unfortunately you can't create a new one from your iPhone) and it takes you to a low-profile, low-bandwidth, IM interface optimized for the iPhone. They didn't try to mimic the way the site works in a traditional setting (exactly like it does on your desktop, complete with a separate window for each conversation), and they didn't try and shoehorn desktop metaphors like tabs in. Instead they simply show you your buddy list. Click on a contact and you get a conversation screen where you can chat as you normally would. The only elements on the screen are their buddy icon, a small icon to take you back to your buddy list, a text box to enter your message, and a send button. If someone else IMs you while you're in the middle of a conversation the number of new messages you have appears in a little bubble over your buddy list icon (just like a dock icon in OS X) and the content of that message briefly appears in a little pop-up. Switching conversations is just a matter of going back to your buddy list and selecting a different person to talk to. It's that simple. And it's been designed specifically with the limitations of the EDGE network in mind so it works just fine even if you don't have access to a WiFi network. It's done incredibly well, and even if Apple adds iChat in later I don't expect I'll stop using meebo (which isn't too surprising seeing as I don't use iChat on my Mac either in favor of Adium; also, I imagine that the reason iChat isn't in there is because AT&T doesn't want there to be a messaging application in there that doesn't let them charge per message as they usually do when it comes to instant messaging and there's no way I'm going to eat up my text messaging allowance with iChat when meebo's around). So basically, the iPhone rocks. That's my review. Unless something seriously unexpected happens, I don't expect I'll be commenting any more on the iPhone itself. But you can be sure you'll be hearing about whatever apps I end up using with it, whether they be web apps or actually apps added through hacks (I'll start messing around with iPhone hacks soon, I'm sure).
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