Friday, July 11, 2008

3G Launch A Pain, But No Crisis For Apple

Sometimes it pays off being a geek. Since I just couldn’t wait to update my first generation iPhone, I did so yesterday. This proved to be a benefit as apparently if I would have waited until today, due to all the trouble Apple is having apparently my iPhone would’ve been rendered a useless brick. Turns out the iTunes activation service got crushed and without being able to activate after the firmware update, no phone.

While this is unfortunate for everyone involved, it’s hardly a disaster as some would describe it. I was moved to evoke The Who lyric of “this is no social crisis, just another tricky day.” Sometime a year and a half from now when Apple has 50% of the smartphone market, it will be a "remember when?" story.

Version one iPhone owners who attempted to upgrade today surely have a right to be annoyed, but when the dust settles and the phones are reactivated they’re going to like the upgrade.

It’s not without glitches, and I didn’t find the App Store as sublime as some people. Sublime perhaps, but sublime within belief, not beyond it.

The Facebook application is so nicely done it makes me wish I cared about Facebook. There are glitches (not just with Facebook, but with the Apps and the 2.0 firmware in general, it seems) for instance deleting mail messages within Facebook often returned me to the iPhone’s home page for no reason.

But the coolest thing to me is that many of the applications work just fine over 2G (Edge network, in the US). Facebook is highly usable over 2G. And how well AOL Radio worked via 2G surprised me very much. I walked around for about an hour today listing to 92.3 K-Rock in Cleveland and never lost transmission or even had it buffer once. Over 2G!

And of course, all that stuff works over WiFi much better. If you’re a first gen phone owner if you have access to WiFi often, and you don’t need GPS I wouldn’t upgrade. Indeed between cell tower/WiFi hotspot triangulation, the existing applications can locate you to within about 1/8th of a block anyway.

Something that would’ve had me upgrading would’ve been the inclusion of support for Flash. Unfortunately, Apple is in some weird feud with Adobe, so it doesn’t support it. Apple (and Jobs) claim this is because Flash is too slow. But I don’t buy that. In any case, if I could stream my TV/DVR to my iPhone, it wouldn’t have gotten me to stand in line like a fanboy, but it definitely have gotten me to upgrade to 3G sometime soon. But it doesn’t, so I see no need to upgrade yet.

That said, I highly recommend upgrading to the 2.0 version of the firmware, at least once the dust settles and you can actually activate and use your phone.

One other note. The version of the firmware I got has my iTunes constantly wanting to make a very lengthy backup at sync. It's no trouble to just "x" out of it, but it's annoying.

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