5 Reasons Why I Don’t Have an iPhone

ppl-act-014 With all the hype around the iPhone lately, I am constantly amazed at how many people “have to have” what basically amounts to a toy.

I’m also amazed at the reactions I get from other programmers when they find out I don’t even want this fancy new toy.

This is not to say there aren’t things about the iPhone that I like.  I like the touch screen.  Mostly.  At least for initial navigation.  And I like the browser.  But, that’s about as far as it goes.

So, here’s my list of reasons for not getting an iPhone:

  • I prefer using a stylus and block recognition over using a keyboard, even if the keyboard is virtual.
    My first PDA was a Palm 1.0 device.  Lots of years ago now.  I learned graffiti for that and moved to block recognition mode when I got my first Pocket PC.  I like using my finger for simple navigation,  but for text entry, block recognition mode is faster than an on-screen keyboard or my slide-out keyboard that I have now.
  • I don’t use my device to listen to music.
    This is probably the biggest slam I hear the iPhone crowd make against Windows Mobile.  “You can’t sync easily to iTunes.”  Well, no, maybe I can’t.  But, then again, I use my phone as a tool, not as a toy.  And when I DO want to listen to an MP3 I can copy and paste the file into my Windows Mobile computer and listen to it with the built in Windows Media Player.  I can even use that same program to listen to Internet Radio stations.  And I’ve done it while driving down the road.
  • The programs I use aren’t available for the iPhone.
    Besides the applications that come with the phone, I use a few applications that either are not available, or are just now available, for the iPhone:
  • Laridian’s Pocket Bible (this IS available now)
  • Laridian’s Bible Memory (not available..yet)
  • FlexMail (ok, there are probably alternatives for this.  But, I like THIS program.)
  • Pocket Informant – (Think Outlook for Windows Mobile… also available for Blackberry.  And it syncs well with Outlook.)
  • DeLorme’s Street Atlas USA with GPS – yeah, I know GPS comes with the iPhone.  But does it talk to you?
  • Even if some of the programs above are available now, or become available, I’m still left with the data entry issue.  Using anything other than the Bible reader without being able to use something similar to block recognition mode would be a pain.  No, thanks.
  • Tethering
    This is a big one for me.  I use my phone as a wireless modem when I’m away from home and free hot spots.  I can’t remember the specifics, but I think you either have to pay extra for this, or you can no longer do it.  At a minimum, it would cost me more month to month to run the iPhone than it currently does to run my Windows Mobile.
  • I can’t program an iPhone using .NET
    Assuming you already know .NET, if you haven’t already tried writing a program with the .NET compact framework, give it a try.  I think you’ll be amazed at how similar it is to what you already know.This isn’t to say that I couldn’t, or wouldn’t learn how to program an iPhone if I had a compelling reason to.  But this is one more reason I don’t have one.  In fact, it is one of the biggest reasons I moved from Palm to Pocket PC in the first place.

    No doubt, some of you will feel compelled to leave comments telling me that I could overcome some limitation by using some specific feature of the iPhone.  But before you do, keep in mind that I don’t use the iPhone because of all of these problems.  The biggest one is the inability to get data in quickly when I need to.

    I’m also not saying that everyone should be using a Windows Mobile device.  If the iPhone works for you,  that’s great.  I’m just pointing out that the iPhone has its own limitations that I rarely hear anyone talking about.

    And finally, since most Windows Mobile phones have a built-in keyboard as the primary way of entering data, you need to know that I have been HTC based devices.  I recently upgraded to the AT+T Tilt.  It has a keyboard that you can slide out if you want to use it.  But it is primarily a Pocket PC that you can use as a phone, not a phone that you can use as a Pocket PC, as so many Windows Mobile phones are.

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    2 Responses to “5 Reasons Why I Don’t Have an iPhone”

    • Nice summary of your position. You bring up some excellent points.

      Of the three major input methods used for phones (handwriting recognition, virtual keyboard, physical keyboard), the virtual keyboard is the least effective. You can’t text with an iPhone while you drive (yeah, yeah, don’t do that, blah blah blah) because you can’t feel the keys (also argues against a QWERTY keyboard on a phone). A virtual keyboard requires fancy correction techniques because it’s hard to hit the keys.

      Related to the virtual keyboard is the lack of a stylus. This affects you more than you think. I’m in the middle of porting our PocketBible program to iPhone and one of the issues is how to deal with a page that is dense with links, like our KJV text with Strongs numbers. You can use 8-point type on a WinMob phone and hit any link you want with a stylus. But you have to have text about 3-4 times that big on an iPhone in order to have a shot at differentiating the links. Even bigger would be even better. Now you are trading off touchability for efficient use of screen real estate.

      I also don’t use my iPhone to listen to music. I own a couple MP3 players but quickly figured out that I don’t listen to music enough to care to go through the hassle of downloading, syncing, charging, carrying, etc. In fact up until a couple months ago when I bought a Mac I was happy to throw a CD in the computer every once in a while. When I got the Mac I loaded all my CDs into iTunes just to see what that was like. Now my $5000+ Mac is a glorified CD player most of the time.

      I don’t think very many people listened to music on the go before the iPod came along. I think that’s a product that created a market for itself. I just never bought into it.

      Last I checked there were about 1000+ programs available for iPhone. PalmGear.com has over 30,000 for the Palm OS, and they’re a shadow of what they used to be. So you’re right — you should make sure the software you want is available for your phone.

      Programming the iPhone is tough for us Windows programmers. It’s a fairly large shift in worldview. On the other hand, XCode compiles my existing C++ code and even lets me mix C++ and Objective-C freely in one source file. This makes it fairly easy to port existing code. You just have to figure out the UI, which is non-trivial.

      Anyway, thanks for the POV. I do love my iPhone, but the phone I actually carry every day is a Windows Mobile 6 device, which, with a couple add-ons from SPB, really rocks.

    • Brian B:

      I’m a Palm user from day one. But I really need a good mobile web and the Treo is just crap. So I got an iPhone. Such an interesting device. The interface is amazing. Apple “knows cool” and people are always amazed when I demo it to them. But Apple always sacrifices productivity for cool. A lot of the stuff I do on it just makes it tough to be productive. For example, they keyboard is crap and I make a lot of mistakes (as well as everyone else I know who has one). But rather than give us arrow keys to edit text (Apple is anti-arrow keys I learned), they give us a magnifying glass that pops up. Wow! That is a really cool feature. But can I use it? Almost. It takes a long time to move the magnifying glass to where I need it and half the time my finger is covering up the important text. Arghh… So I accepted the fact that my typing has errors. But it IS a cool magnifying glass. Just don’t expect to use it unless you’re desperate to get rid of errors. Oh yeah – the apps on the Apple store all suck compared to Palm. But everything is version 1.0 (or even .5) and I expect in a year that things will be better. But it’s going to be a looong year…

      Anyway, I love this iPhone and I hate it too. I won’t trade it in b/c mobile browsing is too important for my work. But the rest of the phone really needs a productivity overhaul (even if it isn’t as ‘cool’).

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