A few burning iPhone 3G questions
Yes, yes, hurray! The faster, better, do-it-all iPhone has been announced. But there are still a few burning questions about the release, answers to which are very important to power users like myself. So, does iPhone firmware version 2.0 and/or iPhone 3G have the following much-needed features?
- Cut&paste (or Copy&Paste).
From what we have seen thus far, the answer is “no.” And it’s a big let down. Stick with me here: on stage, Steve Jobs talked about 3G as if it is a major innovasion of sorts, yet what it really is is just an inclusion of a different data chip and some software drivers to support that chip. The concept of 3G speeds is not new or revolutionary not was it that difficult for Apple to implement. Nevertheless, about 5 minutes of the almost 2-hour presentation was spent by Mr. Jobs explaining the benefits of 3G. Why spend so much time of the presentation on 3G speeds when so many have been asking for it since iPhone’s launch? Yet many an iPhone power user has been clamoring for cut&paste since the launch as well. And while cut&paste might not be as important or as useful as 3G wireless transfer speeds, it certainly is a feature Apple decided to ignore completely this time around. Even still, some might say that the development of cut&paste in the iPhone would require less effort and time from Apple, being only a software feature. So, where is it? Here? Nope. There? Don’t look like it either…
Another question about cut&paste is about its implementation code-wise. If it would have been included in the update, how would Apple justify running what is in all instances a background service, without giving such permission to third-party developers in the SDK? I’m sure there is a way to implement it if Apple did it, but don’t expect to see it as a third-party application any time soon.
Verdict: cut/copy&paste is not in the cards for this release of the iPhone. Let’s hope (with a big “H”) that it is coming as a free software update down the road.
- Multiple-calendar support.
From what we have seen, it’s not clear. During Phil Schiller’s demonstration at WWDC, there was a minor color difference between appointments in the “Day View” of his iPhone. Something important to remember is that iCal and consequently the new MobileMe service (as well as Outlook, which works with MobileMe), all have multiple calendar support. So it would only make sense if the feature made it this (second) time around to the iPhone.
Verdict: maybe multi-calendar support made it through this release. It looks like it.
Update: the calendar section of the iPhone website now makes it clear that multiple calendars are supported. Just like in iCal, calendars have their own colors. Hurray Apple!
- Calendar sharing. (More of a feature for the MobileMe service).
Speaking of calendars, how about sharing them? I have made the switch a long time ago from my Mac’s iCal to Google Calendar. The only reason for my switch was the ability to share my calendars with friends, my girlfriend, colleagues, and clients -all in real time and on the web. No RSS feeds to manually manage, no problems if my calendar is offline. It’s always online with Google Calendar, since the web is its home.
Since switching to Google Calendar, I have purchased BusySync – an OS X plug-in that allows me to perform 2-way synchronization between Google Calendar and my local iCal. This solution works for Google Calendars I am the owner of as well as for calendars that have been shared with me on Google. The main reason for using BusySync is that, in the all-to-common situation of not having internet access, I am able to make changes to the calendars offline – in iCal. As soon as my internet connection is reestablished, everything synchronizes automatically: iCal changes I have made offline are synced up to Google Calendar; changes others have made to either their calendars or my calendars (that I have shared with them) in the time I was offline are synced back down to my local iCal.
It would be very nice, clean, and efficient if Apple provided this service through MobileMe, especially in the “push” way of the new .Mac replacement. How would they do this? That’s a question that would require some collaboration between all web calendaring companies (Google Calendar, Plaxo, Yahoo Calendar, Microsoft Live calendars, MobileMe, and many others). These companies would need to create and implement open calendar-sharing technologies – since current calendar-sharing technologies are proprietary. Much in the same way that Google is leading the open social networking movement with OpenSocial, an open calendar-sharing movement (by Google?) would need to take place to develop open-standard calendar sharing technologies. The issue here is not in creating online calendars that look and work the same; it’s how to make all these web-based calendars from different providers work together in the “sharing department.”
Verdict: As of this point, calendar-sharing goodness hasn’t shone through to MobileMe/iPhone.
- To-Do Lists.
Verdict: looks like that’s not made its way into the new software release or the new iPhone. That’s fine. I’m using 37 Signals‘ online Ta-da List and loving it. The only drawback is that my to-dos don’t have a to-do date and aren’t displayed on my calendar.
- MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service).
Right about now, it is getting ridiculous with this feature, or namely – lack thereof. Why is a free Nokia phone able to send and receive MMS messages, and the super-duper-ultra-useful iPhone isn’t. Apple fanboys – bring the mail, please do – but I refuse to apologize for Apple when one of the most standard mobile phone features is not supported in the industry’s smartest smartphone. And the lack of information and Apple’s standard level of secrecy about why the feature is missing are getting plain annoying.
Verdict: no MMS for you, sonny. Send your picture of the uber-cool car that just drove by via email (video after jump).
It looks like Apple has some work to do still with standard features on the iPhone (MMS) and collaborate on bigger issue (calendar sharing) with other companies to improve MobileMe. We will be keeping our eyes peeled, noses sniffing, and ears listening to every move Apple makes on these issues. But for now – enjoy what features you have on the iPhone and enjoy their excellent implementation – whether you are getting the 3G version or sticking to your 2G oldie-but-goodie model.
Posted in Apple, Operating Systems, Software, iPhone