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Top 5 iPhone buzzkills

iphone buzzkillsOK, I'll admit I own an iPhone. Thing is, I refuse to pay AT&T's completely ridiculous rates. Why are iPhone data packets at a premium, exactly? Anyway, I use the thing as more of a PDA, and I like the mic, speakers and camera. Sure, my Palm has two of those, but that camera is great for sending shots while on the go (and within a wifi hotspot). If I had the dough I'd get a Nokia N95, however.

So after using this 1st-gen iPhone for a few weeks, here are five things that Apple got completely wrong:

5. Codecs? We don't need no steenking codecs!
Just like Apple TV, the Cupertino Ivory Tower refuses to acknowledge the existence of codecs outside their shiny white walled garden. That's a shame, as Divx and a couple of others are really superb codecs, providing efficient and gorgeous playback. On everything but iPhones and Apple TV's, that is. I'm not sure if they are afraid of competition, licensing fees or just snobs. Hm, one of those rhymes with Jobs...

4. Sandboxes are for kids, not a multitasking OS.
Oh copy and paste, where art thou? I'll keep banging this drum, because the beat goes on. The Macintosh pioneered the ease of a clipboard. Microsoft did one better in Office by providing multiple copy/paste repositories. And you're telling me copy/paste was an afterthought? I call malarkey on that! Every proper mobile OS can copy/paste. It's stuff like this that gives you a very solid feeling Apple rushed the entire iPhone experience out the door.

3. App Store? How about Crash Store?
Last night I saw the "App Store" ad. I laughed out loud. If only my iPhone could install apps so easily. The first time I tried using third-party apps, all downloaded via the iPhone, they locked up, started crashing and wouldn't come back. Guess what? A 5-hour journey to "Erase and Restore Land" made things mostly better. Yeah, I had to grab pen and paper to keep track of what I lost. And yeah, I had to re-enter all my settings. Even today installing an app is major fail. It never finishes the "installing" progress bar. I have to reboot a couple of times for it to appear. Google apps on my BlackBerry may hang up, but they install properly, at least. Don't get me started on the wonky "updates" system, either. Seriously.

2. The maze of settings a Minotaur could be proud of, with customization tossed to the wayside.
Wouldn't it be cool to have profiles so you don't have to tweak a dozen settings depending on whether you are at home (with wifi) or in the boonies (EDGE)? Too bad usability and simplicity were lost when the iPhone was born. Or how about the fact that you can't really customize the organization on the screen? Sure, you can try -- but either restoring or re-installing apps will shuffle things around. There's no category-based system, as you find on the Palm. There are no folders. Just a massive, sliding list of stuff with no rhyme or reason. This makes it very frustrating when you need certain apps to always appear front-and-center (like Camera, Evernote and ShoZu). I spend about 1/3 of my time shuffling apps knowing that all that hard work is one crappy install away from being shot to hell. Decades of UI and brain research gone with the flick of a finger.

1. Backups, only 3 hours to go!

Actually, I wish it was 3. Shoot, I wish it was at least predictable. Most iPhone users are now trained to plug the thing in at night. I guess that makes sense, but you know what also makes sense? Iterative backups. You know, like a little thing known as Time Machine? Once again, this smacks of sloppy, rushed coding. iPods do a fast sync and BOOM, you're ready to rock. The iPhone makes you wait hours for a backup, and even then you might wind up with a corrupted backup... Which isn't really a backup at all, is it?

I think the bottom line is that Apple rushed the App Store, rushed the OS 2.0 release and is currently playing the averages. The average iPhone user appears happy. They are wowed by the glitz and glamour of such an advanced machine. But like at Vegas, by the time the cocaine and hooch wears off, they are gonna wind up sore and bruised, wishing they could take it all back. I sincerely hope Apple takes the necessary time to fix this stuff instead of adding more bells and whistles to an already precarious platform.

Tags: analysis, backup, beta, gripes, iphone, issues, opinion