The Dark Side

iPhone 3G

Well I’ve done it, I’ve been lured towards the forces of the dark side. Windows Mobile has seized to be, welcome to the new world, the world of the Apple iPhone.

For over seven years I’ve proudly owned a Windows Mobile PDA / phone, but the time for change has come. Before my first WM device I had various handsets such as Motorola StarTac, Ericsson PH337 and numerous Nokia phones, but overtime I became frustrated with their features such as managing contacts and schedules. Each phone had their own applications for these items and each had their own application suite for the desktop PC, none of them synchronised with a common application, so each new handset I’d have to start from scratch. Storing contacts on the SIM for me was not very good, as I like to keep multiple numbers under a single contact, and I would still loose my tasks and schedules.

PDA’s were available at the time, but I didn’t want to carry around a PDA and a separate mobile phone, so imagine my delight when, I believe, the first PDA device with mobile telephony was released, called the XDA, released by the O2 network, from back then a small company called HTC. This device had the requirements I was after, an extensive contact, task and schedule application, mobile phone, touch screen and most important of all synchronisation to Outlook. Handsets came and went over the years, but a simple sync with Outlook kept all my data from one device to the next. Since those early days, HTC had gained huge success with mobile operators such as T-Mobile (MDA range), Orange and O2 (XDA range), and credit to HTC for producing some of the finest, technological advanced handsets, including my recent one, the HTC Touch Diamond.

However, even with HTC’s fantastic top-level interface for the device, the underlying engine is still WM, which back in the days of the original XDA was great, but after all these years, you’d think Microsoft would improve the UI, but no it’s still the same, in fact there isn’t much difference to the original Windows Mobile CE and the current Windows Mobile 6.1, and that’s my gripe. Unless you use the stylus, it’s impossible to use the device, the virtual keyboard is too small for the average fingers, as well as the icons, scroll bars, selections, buttons and drop-down options which are also too small to use without the stylus. Also, it seems that some screens that have text boxes at the middle of the screen, when the virtual keyboard opens, it covers the text box, so you then have too scroll the screen up, even worst, some screens don’t allow scrolling!! so you end up having to type text without being able to see what you’ve written until you hide the keyboard. There are a lot more issues I’ve learnt to live with over the years, but not any longer.

A few weeks back I started play with a colleagues iPhone, and over the next few days I started buying into the concept. After more research on the internet and continual experimenting with the iPhone, I made my ultimate decision and went out got it. There were a number of reasons for this decision.

  • Firstly, the UI is brilliant, very intuitive and slick. Everything is done using fingers and thumbs, so there are no small icons, buttons or selections. The touch screen is amazingly responsive, fast and smooth, which makes a change to the WM sluggish response.
  • Secondly, the virtual keyboard is actually useable, even with my fat fingers. In fact, this article was written on my iPhone using the WordPress application for iPhone.
  • Which brings me to my third deciding factor, the applications. WM has been around for many years, as mentioned earlier, I had a WM device for the last seven years, but the only decent applications available where the ones to replace the basic WM supplied ones. Such as SPB Diary which improves the built-in calendar application and ContactBreeze for the contacts replacement. Other applications do of course exists, but are aimed for the business professional or organisations, not many interesting ones for the average person, and not many that made use of the latest technologies such as GPRS, 3G and WiFi. Apple iPhones are relatively babies in the world of mobile phones, but it’s success has been overwhelming ever since it’s launch. There are some very smart, slick, usable applications for everyday life. Such applications include TubeDelux, which not only shows you the map of the London underground system, but has live updates to service availability on all lines, and displays the nearest tube stations to you. Another application is the WordPress iPhone application, mentioned above, that lets people write their WordPress blog articles offline, and publish when completed as well as managing those already posted. In the 2 years that iPhones have been released, there a thousands of applications available, some are naff, but there are many day to day ones to keep me busy.

The way I feel about the iPhone now, is the same feeling I had when I threw (ebayed) by old Nokia handset and bought my first WM device. Microsoft will need to pull something very big out of the bag now in order for me to change back, from the few days I’ve had my iPhone I don’t see that happening any time soon.

Make: Apple iPhone
Model: 3gs
Specifications: 16GB Black