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Not so Pick of the Week – the iPhone Sucketh

Every week here on iSource we run a series called Picks of the Week.  No, we haven’t gone digging for boogers. It’s typically a round up of each writer’s favorite app, accessory or whatever from the world o’ tech. This week however my Pick of the Week got rejected by our supreme iSource overlords. Why? Well, because it wasn’t all sunshine, rainbows and butt-kissin, and it wasn’t technically a Pick of the Week. In my case, this was more of a “Let Down of the Month”.

So what’s going on you ask? Well, I guess lately I’ve just been blah on the whole iPhone. Four phones and a little over four years into the iPhone experience and iOS is getting boring for me. Frankly iOS is getting it’s ass kicked all over the place. The good part for Apple is that “all over the place” is quite literally where it’s happening. There’s not a single mobile OS out there that’s getting it 100% right (or I’d be there in a heartbeat). Here’s a few places I personally think iOS is falling behind.


No-tification Center:
If we’re being really honest, I still really miss the old Windows Mobile “Today” screen  with everything I needed to know instantly available, where I could see my calendar and get all my information (mail, calls, messages) from the same source the second I turned my device on. The iOS 5 beta completely fails in this regard simply because it doesn’t allow me to get to my info from the lockscreen or in any quick manner. I want to glance at my lock screen to see what’s coming up and move on. I don’t want to button –> slide to unlock –> swipe the springboard –> then scroll to get infomation. I want to tap the home button once and be done with it. While we’re at it – I don’t use the notification center very often simply because it is such a pain in the ass to get to. I don’t want to follow a 3-5 second process to see something that will take me half a second to process. Yes … I know there’s jailbreak apps for that. And no I can’t use them because I’m running iOS 5 and refuse to have to tether my phone when it needs a reboot. Apple knows people want their info in a central place (otherwise they never would have created Notification Center) so why did they half ass it and make it take forever to get to? Winner: Windows Mobile CE – from the year 2000


Camera Sucketh:
CAN WE PLEASE GET A DAMMED CAMERA THAT DOESN’T TAKE 2 MINUTES TO OPEN? And heaven forbid you want to take a video.You might as well go make a coffee and sit down on the john to read the paper before the camera becomes active. Ok, ok… it doesn’t take that long. But 10-15 seconds for the camera to activate when your kid is about to do something incredibly kid like (score the winning touchdown / run headlong into a tree) is an eternity. That’s the difference between $10,000 on America’s Funniest Home Video and 10,000 “Dammed slow camera” complaints when you miss the shot. Saving with HDR? Forget it. Put the phone down and go for a walk. To South America. Winner: Polaroids develop faster – since 1973

Wallpaper:
Show of hands… how many of you still live in a house that has wallpaper? My guess is not too many of you because its out dated. Who else recalls the time when Apple didn’t even let you have wallpaper on your iPhone? Yes, I realize that wasn’t too long ago, but what’s old is old. Guess what Android has had forever now? LIVE MOTION OMFG IT MOVES wallpaper. It’s like a window on your phone. Hell, they even have wallpaper that follows you as you move through the screens (see Captain America live wallpaper). Useless? Ab-so-lutely but fun all the way around. So, how about another OS that doesn’t have wallpaper at all like our beloved iPhone didn’t – Windows Phone 7. They have LIVE TILES. Don’t know what that is? Here’s the concept – you have weather app. That weather app tracks your local temperature and displays it on the icon. But then an alert comes through, the icon flips over and instead of showing you just the standard app icon, it shows you a picture of the gigantic hurricane heading your way and alerts your to get the hell outta town. Windows Phone 7 can do that. What can iOS do? Um. Yea. NOTHING. Winner: Windows Phone 7 icons can save your life. iPhone can display a bubble number.

Battery Life:
I love my iPad. I can charge it and forget about it for days on end. The iPhone? I can charge it and a few hours later (under heavy use or games) flip the switch on my Mophie Juice Pack Plus and charge it all over again. I have quite often forgotten just how cool looking the iPhone 4 is – because I haven’t seen it in months. I carry around a brick in my pocket because I can’t make it through the day using my phone – the way I want to. If I used it the way I suspect a lot of folks do – which is to turn it on and ignore it for the vast majority of the day until they check facebook at night and maybe play a game or two, it wouldn’t be a big deal. But my iPhone is always on. Between emails, texts, games when I need a break, music and movies occasionally for background noise when I’m working on something – my phone works its battery to death. Yes I could turn off 3G (might as well since AT&T 3G is slow as molasses most times), BT is already off, Wifi, Push etc… I could turn all those off. I could, but many of them are integral parts of my day. I grab files off a server (Wifi required), my servers notify me of problems via email so auto-checking every 15 minutes is not a good thing and using Edge – half the time email content doesn’t even load. So yea, I could turn my iPhone into a smartphone from 5 years ago sure. So – why complain now? The Samsung Galaxy S II – downclocks the dual core CPU (to as low as 200Mhz) when its idle and that fancy (huge) screen it has only lights the pixels being used to display content. No content (black) no power and therefore truer blacks at no power cost. Winner: Samsung for doing something the iPhone can’t – manage battery life.


iPhone Phone:
Thomas – The little engine that could. iPhone – The expensive phone that can’t. My mom was over for lunch the other day. She looked at me after her iPhone displayed “Call Failed” while trying to call her husband. She used two words: AT&T Sucks. And that pretty much sums up the entire experience using iPhone as a phone. Is that Apple’s fault? Who cares. The iPhone sucks as a phone. End of story. Winner: Not iPhone.

Folders with limits:
iPhone limits you to 12 items in a folder. I’ve got 14 default “Apple Apps” that I don’t want on my home screen at all. But you can’t fit them all in one folder because that would make the folder have to scroll – heaven forbid. I’ve got a hell-uva lot more than 12 games on my phone. Why should I have to have Games folders 1-5? Productivity folders 1-4 and News folders 1-3? Yes, I could jailbreak and use something like Infinifolders. But yet again, Apple has to know this sucks but they don’t do anything to fix what they half assed in the first place. Folders = great. Folder limits = sucks. And don’t even get me started on this stupid Newsstand icon folder THING in iOS 5. It’s there on your home screen… looking at you … laughing at you because it doesn’t do a dammed thing and you can’t even shove that never used POS into a folder. Winner: My File Cabinet.

Spotlight:
HAHAHAHA! You only thought you were scrolling back to your first screen. Show of hands – how many of you end up at Spotlight more than you end up back at your first screen? Another show of hands, how many of you are so disorganized with your homescreen layouts that you really need spotlight to help you find an app? How many of you can’t figure out how to use Safari to Google, but somehow managed to figure out using spotlight to search Wikipedia. I get that some of you might like Spotlight. I respect that. But for those of us who hate it with the power of a thousand suns… why Apple won’t let us disable it with a simple checkbox is beyond me. And why does it need a whole page to itself? Why can’t spotlight be a little section of Notification Center or something like a widget in Android? It’s a search bar. It does not require its own little planet. Winner: An actual spotlight – because I can shut it the hell off.

Multitasking:
The iPhone still doesn’t do multitasking. Call it whatever you want, but when a programmer writes code to “freeze” the state of the application and then writes code to “thaw” the application… it ain’t multitasking. It’s pausing the app. I’m not saying I want to have to fully manage memory anymore like we used to, but I also don’t want to have my phone lie to me and make me think an app is still running in the background when it isn’t. There’s APIs that make things like streaming audio stay running, but unless the app tells the OS it needs background services, said app takes a nap and not always does it wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed. Winner: Windows Mobile … that bad boy would run so many apps at the same time the device would crash before it stopped you!

So what are your thoughts? Anything else in iOS that is driving you nuts? Any more tech from 10 years ago that Apple still can’t catch up with?

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  • cw

    Just… thank you for hitting the nail on the head and making me end my day with a laugh! I’d add my biggest peeve… no “delete all” button/option for text messages.

  • JNGold

    Sounds like you need to move on.

  • Christopher

    Maybe you can do everyone a favor and create a jailbreak tweak that, all in ONE install, fixes every single thing that annoyes you and include a slew of checkboxes to customize for your own taste. Call it something like “One irritated man’s attempt to perfect iOS and has the balls to do it.”
    So do it….or move on.

  • Mary S.

    My iPhone 4 camera and video launch immediately. And the other issues you have, I don’t.
    Sounds like you should:
    1. Unjailbreak it.
    2. Learn how to use your phone.

    Simple…

  • Rodney

    Awesome article. I agree with everything you wrote. Now if Apple would just listen.

  • Rodney

    But just to play devil’s advocate, I must say that the things the iPhone does well, it does well!

    Media management. WM and Android, and Palm all SUCK and syncing tunes and movies and podcasts.

    Apps and OS that works. My wire’s android phone is still stuck on 2.1 with no update in sight for the new versions of Android. And it is just buggy. Some days her battery will drain out in a few hours. It is so complicated to do simple things compared to the iPhone. My old WM2003 phone would lock up and need to be reset frequently…at least once a day….or I definitely had to be conscious of memory management. With the iPhone, I just run with it and forget about ‘closing’ apps or managing memory.

    Integrated apps. I was ecstatic when I moved from my WM2003 phone to an iPhone. I could now click on an address and get a map to open. Now, I know Android and I’m sure WM can now do this too, but it was awesome when the iPhone first came out.

  • Brandon

    @JNGold — I would, but as I mentioned above there’s nobody who is getting is 100% right. As a matter of fact, there’s still nobody who is even close. I have considered WP7 once Mango comes out, but at that point its going to be a matter of developer support and what apps are there.

    @Christopher – If I was that good of a programmer – I would.

    @Mary S. – Can’t unjailbreak what isn’t jailbroken. As for learning how to use my phone… please enlighten me as to how I can possibly miss-tap the camera icon on the springboard which would delay the camera from opening.

    @Rodney – 100% agree. Media management through iTunes is by far the best of anyone out there right now. I have no complaints for the most part there. And I definitely agree that the apps/stability are the “killer app” on the iPhone. I remember having to reset my WinMo devices all the time for similar issues as you mentioned.

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  • Jack Hickman

    Man, as big a fanboy as I am, I’m forced to agree with everything–yes, everything–you said. And AT&T’s 3G—fuggtaboutit.

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  • jhrogersii

    I have a few rebuttals

    1. Battery life- Even those of us who are power users may kill them faster, the iPhone 4 is still the benchmark for smartphone battery life. It may not last a whole day for you and I, but it still runs laps around the field. Android and WP phones aren’t even close. As such, I don’t think you can fairly call this a weakness on the iPhone’s part when it legitimately leads the industry.

    2. AT&T- I realize that Apple had to choose a carrier to partner with 3 years ago, and that they chose the one that would play ball with them and their control freak ways. You can hold them partly responsible for that. However, they did go to Verizon first, so you can’t say they didn’t at least try on get on the better network.

    Now that the iPhone is available from both AT&T and Verizon, can you really call this a weakness of the iPhone itself? I had a Samsung Captivate, which runs on AT&T, for a little while Its phone performance was no better, and often worse than my iPhone 4’s. AT&T’s issues are THEIR issues, not Apple’s.

    Just to be fair, though, I actually have very solid AT&T service where I live. I got a Verizon iPad, and the Internet speeds are 1/2 to 2/3 of what I get on my local AT&T 3G, which I found quite disappointing. I realize that my local area is more of an exception, but AT&T actually isn’t abysmal everywhere.

    3. Stability- This has already been discussed, but it bears repeating. The iPhone wins here, hands down. Even jailbroken , or in my current case, running a beta version of the next OS, the iPhone 4 is rock solid. I can’t remember the last time the phone had a random crash or reboot. Sure, apps crash from time to time, but since they are sandboxed, they don’t kill the entire phone when they do. I can remember my old WinMo phones crashing all the time in the middle of phone calls back in the day.

    When it comes to smartphones, you have to pick your poison. Apple is mine. Sure, they can move slow when it comes to OS innovation, but they aren’t nearly as slow and out of touch as RIM and Nokia. They haven’t made a great OS, only to kill it off with crap hardware and marketing like Palm and HP. M$ seems to have completely copied Apple’s slow roll out approach, right down to leaving out copy and paste for a while. They are just WAY behind the curve because they waited so long to make their move. They will be rushing just to catch up for at least another year.

    And then there’s Android. I’m sure it’s amazing for some people. Despite my inherent distrust of Google, I’ve really tried to like it. I appreciate it for what it is, but I just can’t get into it. It isn’t for me. After all of the rooting, hacking and playing I have done with the phones and the Nook Color that I had, I totally lost interest. I didn’t like actually USING it oce all that was done. It felt like my WinMo days of loading XDA Daveloper ROMS all over again. I actually got bored a LOT quicker with my Android devices than I do with my iPhone and iPad.

    As was already mentioned, it is the ecosystem of media and apps that sets the iOS platform apart. The OS is made to be in the background, not out front and in your face all of the time. It is what runs on top of it that makes it what it is. I have learned to appreciate that approach over time. So sure, the iPhone has plenty of shortcomings. But like you said, Brandon, so do the rest of the phones and OSs out there. If you get bored, just do what I did, and go pick up another device and try to use it exclusively for a week. If you are anything like me, the grass isn’t as green as it looks when you hang out on the other side for a little while.

  • so there`s no notification screen when you press the home button in iOS 5 ? are you blind?
    your camera takes 2 mintues to open? what ? Did you ever thought about People who ware using Spotlight also for searching Contacts Music blah?
    I don´t know, your article is full of misinformation and misunderstatement for the requirements of a mobile User (saying as an proffesional UX/UI Designer ) combined with a nice ignorance about what your iphone actually can do and what not. Theres a nice manual in the iBookStore maybe you schould check that. And as a little bonus for you: This was the last time I visit this iBlah Site, but i think you wouldn`t care 😉
    Have a nice day!

  • and maybe you should say the designer/webdeveloper of this site that comments with Center-Aligned Text are very hard to read!

  • Brandon

    @rocco – No there isn’t an option for Notification Center on the lock screen. There are Notifications, but not Notification Center. Big difference. And if you’ve found a way to access Notification Center with a home button – do share, because it is accessed through a top down swipe on the springboard, not a button.

    Camera – Yes mine does take a long time to open. I also keep about 2000 pictures in my photo library – not the camera roll but the library of sync’d photos. I’ve found that having a couple hundred or more pictures and the camera becomes slow to open. Why those two completely separate actions seem to be linked I don’t know.

    Spotlight – So you have so many friends that using the actual contacts section of phone.app is too time consuming? So much music that finding a song using the music.app is too tough? Either way – that’s great you love using Spotlight. I hate it. I would like to turn it off. But I can’t because someone at Apple won’t give me a simple UISlider to do so.

    Really iBook store contains an eBook for iOS 5 already? REALLY?

    Your not visiting ever again 🙁 bummer. And yes, we’ve all complained that comments suck to read to the webmaster. It doesn’t a “professional UX/UI Designer” to figure that out.

  • Brandon

    @jhrogersii – Industry leading battery doesn’t mean I can’t complain about it as a weakness for me. At some point there’s always an industry leading something. If people don’t say its not good enough – they won’t make it better.

    AT&T sucks. We know that. I’m locked into them because a decision Apple made and because the cellular industry puts you into contracts that cost a car payment to get out of. Since day one the iPhone has sucked as phone. I don’t care if that’s Apple’s fault or AT&T’s fault. It sucks as phone.

    Stability – I don’t recall complaining about stability. I complained that the camera was slow – which in my case it is. And I mentioned not-so-multitasking. Yes, the iPhone is stable even in beta.

  • jhrogersii

    I see where you are going with the battery argument. However, bear two things in mind. First, think of how bad battery life was on the 3G and 3GS, but how much worse contemporary 3G Android and WinMo phones were. The iPhone 4 was a HUGE leap forward in smartphone battery life when it was released over a year ago. The battery life and Retina Display pushed the competition on the hardware side, and most just recently caught up on these fronts. On that note…

    Second, remember that, when you are comparing the Galaxy S II to the iPhone 4, it is a bit skewed because the S II was released around 6 months later. Thanks to Apple pushing the boundaries, other manufacturers are having to weigh battery life against feature glut and just relying on impressive specs. Just put the original Captivate (a 1st gen Galaxy phone) against the iPhone 4 and you might appreciate what Apple did a little more. I couldn’t go half a day on that POS without turning off all of the background stuff, widgets, and fancy moving wallpaper. There is a price for all of the fluff and chrome.

    Now, if Apple doesn’t raise the bar again in the iPhone 5, then I think people will have more room to complain about Apple being lazy. Until then, I think it’s hard to knock Apple for phones a full generation past their last release.

    I get what you are saying about AT&T and I’m sorry it sucks for you and so many others. If Apple hadn’t released on Verizon yet, I would probably agree with you. But now they have, and all signs point to a Sprint release, as well.

    While it may seem that everyone in the cell industry has us over a barrell, we still sign the contracts. They don’t force us to do anything. Apple has a business to run, like anyone else. Verizon wouldn’t play ball, T-Mobile is so small it’s a joke, and you see how well the Sprint exclusive worked out for Palm. AT&T was the only option and Apple went with it. I have a hard time faulting them for that.

    I know that you didn’t say stabity is an issue. However, when slamming Apple for the things they don’t do right , it’s a good counterbalance to remember what they do well. Stability, design, hardware fit, finish, and construction, reliability, and the extensive media and apps ecosystem are what they’ve got nailed better than anyone, even more than one year from launch.

    After all this playing devil’s advocate (and that’s all any of this is. I’m sure your opinion speaks loudly to plenty of iOS users who have grown tired of waiting for the next thing while 5,000,000 Droid model fly past) I do feel your pain on several points. No one sees and gets to know the flaws and weaknesses of a platform like hardcore users. Familiarity breeds contempt. Now that we are further down the road than we have ever been without a new device to play with, and have a two months to pick apart the new features in the beta, a lot of us are bored. I just put the iOS 5 beta on my phone this week, so that has given me a shot in the arm. However, I think a lot of the critics like yourself would be a lot happier right now if we were all already holding a thinner iPhone 5 with a bigger screen, dual core, better batt life, and playing with some features that haven’t been announced yet. Am I right? Well, that and getting out of your AT&T contract without an ETA and getting a Verizon iPhone 5.

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  • Danny

    Android for the win. Why is it that android has all of these things listed that the iphone does not. 8mp cameras, dual core processors, multitasking etc. Everything that the iphone doesnt have, Android does. Noobs

  • If you think that OS is not working perfectly for the people , you can move to something else as OS is not the only platform to hit the people.