Well, after many years as a faithful Treo user, harkening back to the day when it had a clamshell design (the old 180), I have now made the switch to the iPhone. Once Apple released the SDK for the iPhone, I knew I had to make the switch. It’s part of my job to live with new technologies and crack open some use-cases.
I skipped the first-generation iPhone because I just couldn’t imagine parting with my practical Treo. I felt I’d seen enough devices to not have my head turned by the next cool gadget that strolled by. Even if it was beautiful.
And the iPhone is a beautiful device.
It smudges the moment you lay eyes on it (photons apparently smudge it), but it is a beautiful device nonetheless. It’s thinner than my Treo.
My first encounter with the interface came via an iTouch purchased to understand the device without committing to the expensive data/phone plan. I used the iTouch for about 48 hours, then turned it over to the developers. The iTouch is good for evaluating applications, but is incomplete. The iPhone is a different matter. With everything firing, it’s a much more interesting and engaging platform.
Here are my initial observations:
- I can’t type on it. I know, I’ll get better, but I miss a tactile keyboard. My thumbs were pretty adept at typing on the Treo. The iPhone is more difficult. Entering passwords, even with the peekaboo last character, is never a sure thing.
- The applications store (AppStore) is very cool. The applications will only get better. Twinkle is my new favorite, and really brings Twitter to life.
- The GPS is really cool.
- The call quality is very good.
- The email integration is slick.
- It does crash. Yes, fans, it does crash. Even saintly Apple makes bug-ridden software and OS packages.
- The screen resolution and color saturation are both dazzling.
- Handling it, I’ve been repeatedly amazed to realize how much has been packed into such a small case.
Overall, the iPhone 3G is a very good device.
Is it a game-changer? For scholarly communication?
Well, the answer to that will depend on the applications clever people write for it. The physics engine, gyroscope, and accelerometer could be used for some interesting simulations. The Wii might give us a clue. It’s used in physical therapy, but due to its scale, it usually involves the whole body. The iPhone might be used for fine-motor rehabilitation, or fine-motor simulations.
There is an application to turn the iPhone into a pedometer, by the way.
Then there’s the GPS, which is really cool. It shows you where you are on a map. It also allows you to show friends where you are. You can tag photos and Twitter posts with your location. You can find people near you. The GPS applications will only increase in interconnectedness.
In medicine, there are already successful applications for ePocrates and the Netter “Atlas of Human Anatomy.” By making the elements interactive, drawings and databases come alive. Moving, zooming, and comparing are natural acts within the iPhone interface.
Interaction is what the iPhone is ultimately about, whether it’s within an application, talking on the phone, Twittering, browsing, or broadcasting your location. It’s an impressive device in many ways, and opening it to developers was the right thing to do, kill switch or no.
Did I mention that it’s shiny?