Two items, tenuously related – Google and iPhone OS 2.0

Google is fallible

We always think of Google as the unstoppable juggernaut that can do no wrong. But this isn’t so. Examples : First, Google Browser sync. This was a neat little extension you would install in Firefox, and it would automatically synch your bookmarks, cookies, history – everything – to a central Google server somewhere. Pretty neat, sure, though a little scary – though what with Google isn’t? After Firefox 3 came out, I tried to see if I could grab the latest Google Browser synch. Though I’d been working without it while using the Firefox 3 Beta, once FF 3 was officially released, I assumed a new version of the plug-in would be as well. Nope! It’s been discontinued…perhaps there wasn’t enough take-up? Perhaps there were too many internal business conflicts regarding it? Who knows. But here they built a thing, and finally they say “Whoops, sorry, we’re taking this thing down now.” There are alternatives, of course, but I just thought it interesting, because it made me think of them different.

Once I’d gotten it into my head that super behemoth Google can slip up, I was able to look at another feature I’d thought about myself before – Google gears. This is a browser plug-in that lets you access web applications offline, as well as online. Take a look at this architecture description, and my gut says they’re doing it wrong. (Bias alert: I have thought about solving this problem a different way.) Being able to use Gears with my google Docs and google reader are both pretty neat though.

So the iPhone 2.0 software came out (more about this in a minute). I need an RSS feed reader. NetNewsWire is out for iPhone. I need that. I get it. To ‘synch’ my read-items vs. unread-items, I need ‘newsgator’. And, just like that, in the blink of an eye, I move off of google reader, and onto NetNewsWire for Mac and NetNewsWire for iPhone. I’m not yet 100% convinced about how well it works – I still get definite feelings of ‘clunk’ going on, but I can read my newsfeeds while in the subway. Win.

They’re human beings – flesh and blood, like you and me. Prick them and do they not bleed? Their dominance can be challenged when they misstep. They’re no Microsoft, yet, but they definitely are mortal.

iPhone OS 2.0

Exchange support took a while to get going. I had to delete and readd my account, twice. I wanted it to ‘automagically’ figure out that I was on Exchange before, and I should now be on Exchange and use Push features, but it isn’t that clever. The fact that it wanted to WIPE OUT my contacts Really, really freaked me out! i don’t use the calendar on my phone all that often, so wiping that out and replacing it with my Exchange calendar is not a big deal. Emails show up on my phone faster than they show up on my computer. I can send, receive, accept, and decline meeting requests. My calendar has my Exchange calendar. This makes my life a bit better.

However, my battery has suffered, for sure. It could also be that I was poking and prodding my phone all the time, but I do think that Exchange activesync whatever it is seems to slurp more juice.

I have been gorging myself on apps. Like some kind of guy who just wandered out of a desert into an all-you-can-eat buffet, I’m stuffing every single application that looks like it might be interesting – and many that aren’t – onto my phone. Plenty are shitty. Plenty are crashy. Some are pretty neat.

  • Aim – crashy, but useful
  • Twitteriffic – sluggish, pretty…jury’s still out
  • eReader – requires an account? May toss it.
  • PhoneSaber – AWESOME
  • Remote – Haven’t tried it yet, but I hear good things.
  • Facebook – Lame
  • Cube Runner – Fun!
  • iPint – Cutesy, marketing stuff. Kinda ok. Wish I liked Carling beer better.
  • Whrrl – Haven’t fiddled to much, dunno.
  • NYTimes – Nice concept, crashed on me and even took my phone with it once.
  • NetNewsWire – Pretty straightforward, probably a few point-releases and it will be good.
  • Scratch – Pretty cute toy! If the controls were a liiiiittle more real-timey, it would be better.
  • Loopt – I can’t tell if this is genius, or shit. It’s weird, and I keep feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing with it.
  • Mobile News – Simple, does what it’s supposed to.
  • WeatherBug – Not bad, little more detail than your regular Weather app. S’ok.

IPhone further thoughts

In re: it's closed – yes, but, in at least one sense it's actually infinitely open, and more open than any phone before it.

It has a fully, 100% desktop-compatible, web browser – Safari.

This means it _doesn't_matter_ that you can't run MS Office on it – you should be able to run Google Docs just fine. And who cares if you can't run your little Atom API blog posting software on it – you can just log right into Blogger. But what if I want some kind of interactivey kinda application? XmlHttpRequest, baby! That’s “Ajax” to you less-webdev-oriented people.

This is all presuming that Cingular doesn’t neuter it by forcing everything through some aggressive kind of aching proxy, which most carriers do to save bandwidth. If they don’t this device could _really_ be revolutionary. You can develop a site for the always-connected Desktop, and have it work nearly 100% with the iPhone! How cool would that be?

Edit – considering neutered web-browsing experiences – my shitty Blackberry browser truncated the post when I went into Blogger to move it from Draft to Post. See? I want an iPhone.


The UI looks Great. I’m worried about fingerprinting up the phone, but we’ll have to see.

The one thing that I hate is that it’s a Closed System. You can’t go and download the Dev Kit and start writing software for it. This is likely to appease the carriers, but it’s very limiting. Yuck.

It’s way too damned expensive. My Treo cost around that much when I bought it, and it did a hell of a lot more. Of course, this is an OS X system (allegedly).

How the hell are they going to get it to run OS X? It’s bloated and huge on superpowerful modern hardware – what the hell is going to happen in this anemic phone world? They must be chopping OS X up into little tiny pieces to jam it into this phone. I bet they use a different kernel! And I wonder what CPU it’ll use – probably ARM, since everyone uses that.

Multi-year exclusive to Cingular sounds terrible. Terrible. I know why they chose GSM (quad-band GSM to be specific), that’s so they can sell the same handset to Europe and elsewhere. And I guess you might be able to buy unlocked handsets straight from Apple, but yeesh. Ugly. And will there be a CDMA version, ever? Who knows? That’s two more carriers you can’t use (Sprint and Verizon)…

The reason the little typing-on-glass thing actually seems to work is because there is some predictive text stuff in there – so if you happen to jam two ‘keys’, it can guess which one you probably meant. It may end up being right more often than not. That’s going to be another thing that we’ll have to try out to believe. Can’t wait till they show up in an Apple Store!

But if it’s sturdy enough (lots of glass there, dunno about that…) and flexible enough and can do what I need it to do (maybe not everything, but at least just what I need…) then I can see myself getting it. But I could see that a lot easier if it were cheaper. Bastards.

I wonder if the development model is actually Widgets? It looks a lot like it. Then your development doesn’t matter whether it’s an ARM or PowerPC or what?

Apple supports iphone? No, it has to be the carrier? I don’t know where Bryan gets this from, but he insists that the support will be done by Apple, not Cingular. That’s insane, if you ask me. If it’s true. I think he’s mistaken. I couldn’t find it in the Engadget article. If that were the case, Apple could just be their own MVNO and leave it at that.

As more details emerge, I shall ponder and write about them if I think they’re interesting.