Recently, lines of Apple fanboy (and girls) and conscientious consumers alike snaked around blocks across the US, awaiting the latest piece of cutting edge technology: the iPhone. Although this device has been popular with Apple junkies and techies for awhile now, the benefits of the iPhone (and it’s now-lower price) are speaking to the masses, drawing more and more people to its flat-screened, buttonless goodness.
As an active participant in the latest wave of tech and new media, I would consider myself fairly tech-savvy, but I’m not one to rush out and buy the latest device, especially if mine works fine (and is less than a year or so old). I don’t have a burning desire for something new.
But I can understand why the iPhone is changing this equation. The open platform, new programs and add-ons available from third parties make it appealing to people who want to teach their device to practically drive their cars and cook them dinner. Also the common sense features appeal to people who may not fit into the typical “fanboy” stereotype.
Practicality packs a punch
With the iPhone, Apple simply tapped into the practical needs of cell phone users, and then added their personal brand of creativity and presentation.
One of my favorite “common-sense” features is visual voicemail. Let’s say your friend Ceci left you a really long message, but you know that you don’t need to listen to it all right away. But then your friend Jojo leaves you a voicemail, too — and hers you need to hear ASAP. Why sit through the first super long message? You can just skip over it without having to remember what number to push, like on a traditional phone.
These are the types of questions the iPhone answers. This is what makes their product — on just one level — so simple, but so genius.
Another thing I love is the ease of web browsing. With the 3G model, you’ll be able to browse the internet faster and with more ease than you may have thought possible on a phone (well, at least for this decade). The iPhone 3G automatically connects to the fastest connection possible. It could be 3G, WiFi or another available connection — it seeks speed.
You can also sync your favorite bookmarks from your computer to your Phone for fast viewing your favorite sites — and, if you like, you can make any one of those faves into single-button icons on your home screen.
These are just some of the built-in features. There are a number of third-party and Apple-created applications (aka iPhone apps) that do a variety of very specific, niche things. Some are free and some will cost you. For example, for a few bucks, you can use your phone as a recorder to take notes. The theory is, why type when you can talk? Conjure up your to-do list later, and you’ll find it’s all written out for you.
Some of the top apps include functions that help you find that perfect gift at the lowest price on the internet (save benjis). Or keep track of your weight using any one of a number of diet-tracking sites using the app Weight Tracker.
Still short of perfection
Although the iPhone is fabulous, it’s definitely still has some of the quirks and annoyances typical to any new tech product. The biggest faults again go back to our desire for practicality. On the mild end of the scale, there’s the issue of not being able to copy & paste anything with the device.
On the almost-a-dealbreaker side of things is the fact that you can’t replace the battery once it stops accepting a charge. You have to send it back to Apple, and be phone-less for a few days (unless you choose to rent an interim replacement). What makes this even crazier is that Apple doesn’t put a new battery in your phone — they send you a different reconditioned phone. Why they can’t just swap out the phones at AT&T stores remains a mystery.
No matter what end of the spectrum you fall on – uber-techie or average cell phone user – Apple has designed a product that appeals to this vast group of people, making the device not just easy to use, but also compatible with a nearly endless range of technology.
And from here, things should only get better.
Find out more about the iPhone
This article was originally published in July 2009