Return of the Pain: An iOS Tale Pt 3
See part One here.
See part Two here.
Part 1 TL:DR- Getting an iPhone 5, per work's orders. Coming from a long line of feature phones, a Droid2, and several bad experiences with Apple devices in the past.
Part 2 TL:DR- First impressions not good, I miss my keyboard, iTunes still sucks.
So now that we have covered the first three parts of this tale of switching from Android to iOS, we shall embark on the third and final chapter: Impressions one month in. Please note that this post INCLUDES the issues I ran into in the first 2, since few were solved.
I hate this phone.
I know that's simple, but that's the basic feeling I have towards it these days. Not a day goes by that I don't think those words or say them out loud. They ARE simple, but they encompass a whole series of issues I have with the phone's hardware, software and OS. So let's deal with them in that order:
Before I lay into this thing, let's start with the obvious: this is a well-made device. The fit and finish on the iPhone 5 is superb and has few equals in my experience. It feels solid in the hand, and exhibits no flexibility. The screen, in terms of quality, is equally well made. It's bright, sharp and has great color. And I have to give some real props to the button-engineers at apple. Butts are REALLY important, and the tactile feedback the user receives from the power and volume buttons is PERFECT.
But it is not flawless, particularly in context of other modern phones. First, the phone's size. I too laughed when I heard people complain, initially, that it was too thin. But they were right. Without a case, it's hard for your fingers to find the leverage to really have a solid grasp on the phone. When I use it caseless, I am constantly aware that its perch in my hands is precarious. If the phone were heavier, I think this would be less of an issue. That's right, I also think it is too light, at least for its size. A gadget's weight lends it a sense of security and durability, and the inertia it provides in real time helps the user feel like its not going anywhere. I don't get that with this phone.
Which brings us to another issue: cases. You really need a case for a phone coated in glass, even if there is less glass than before on the 4S. Which begs the question: why is the phone so awesome that I have to hide that beautiful engineering behind a crappy case? I'm currently waiting for the iPhone 5 Book Book to come out, but still. It's sad. My old Droid 2 never needed a case, and I beat it to hell and back. It's still being used as an HTPC remote to this day. (Gmote ftw).
And then there's the screen.
It's a great screen, no doubt, but it's too small. Before I got this thing, friends were telling me (a big gamer) that I would love playing games on it. Not so much. Even for me, who has inherited his grandmother's thin, long fingers, my thumbs block large amounts of the screen, and make seeing the controls hard to see. This makes fast-twitch games like Super Crate Box (which is awesome btw) or Jet Pack Joyride where you need to see what's coming, much more difficult than they are supposed to be, which is already challenging.
i.e., the hardware gets in the way.
Not only is the screen in and of itself a limiting factor, but it pales in comparison to other screens on the market, making it a relative issue. Sure, a lot of that is ego, but it's easy to see how the same experience on a slightly larger screen (ahem, iPad Mini) can be compelling. Sure, it makes the device more pocketable, but at what expense?
Oh, and the camera is ok. That's better than any I've used, but it's not the uber-camera some would make it out to be.
Besides cases there really aren't that many. I had to go all over town, to 3 Apple stores to get a charging cable. So, not much to say here, since there is not much to experience.
Just to be clear, here, I'm talking about iTunes, not iOS. That's last. To be more clear: iTunes sucks. On Windows at least. I'm not a Mac owner, and I have never used iTunes on OSX, but unless Apple makes two completely different sets of software for the two OSs, it's a terrible experience. Syncing is confusing, controls for syncing are spread all over based on media/file type, and wifi syncing has yet to work on my network. The software is slow even on my main rig (Core i5 firstname.lastname@example.org, 8gb ram and an SSD with Win7), and fits terribly on my 11" laptop's 1366X768 screen (Alienware M11x). The CD ripping is broken (it splits CDs apart into multiple albums OF THE SAME ALBUM), getting your own mp3s-as-ringtones is a nightmare. Just google it. It requires you to operate iTunes AND Windows Explorer and copy/pasting/renaming a file and THEN syncing it to your phone via iTunes. WTF.
And I won't get into Bonjour and iTuneshelper.
F iTunes. F it in the A.
Hopefully version 11 (recently delayed to make my life harder for longer) will fix some of these issues, and is not just the face lift it appears to be.
Alright, straight to the point: it's been a buggy, inconsistent and inconvenient hot-mess of an experience from day 1. I don't want to spend too much time here, so I'll bullet point it for you:
-The Email App sucks. I have 2 Exchange accounts set up. For both, it will periodically not be able to send an email (fine, I go places where the coverage is iffy; like the subway), and then later WILL. Sometimes 24 hours later. But it WON'T TELL ME that it had a problem sending it. No, it just decides to make me look like an ASS to co-workers that receive two copies of an email. Also, the main email screen is dumb and confusing. If you go into your "inbox" from it, you can't see anything that has been labelled (gmail) or foldered (work outlook). So you have to go to the"Accounts" section for that account to see the divisions. Why the redundancy:? WTF?
-Location services are awesome.
They don't work. So I have a work and gmail Exchange calendar set up on the phone. They work fine. But if I tell Siri "Remind me of X when I get home." She says she can't. My calendars are GMAIL AND MS EXCHANGE, likely the two largest calendar services out there, and she won't work with them. EDIT: I I figured out the issue: The reminders settings section has a "Default List" setting that must be set to icloud. It was pretty buried and not inuitive, but it works now. Though, Google is not an option for soem reason... And if that WERE the case, w Why doesn't iOS default to a third option that IS compatible if it detects the current is not? Why link it to a calendar service at all? Why not just put it locally?
- Maps is OK. I don't hate it, but local search on it is terrible. Waze has replaced it for me entirely, and gogole maps' website serves when that fails.
-Global search is terrible and has yet to locate what I want at the time. It's faster just to navigate there myself.
- The notification tray is all but useless, and I rarely access it. There's no reason to go there when I have an email, since my email app is on my homescreen, and to get to the notification tray you have to go to the homescreen FIRST. Plus, the lack of customization means I can't dictate what info it shows me to any real regard.
Deleted because I am not sure what I am trying to say. I guess my point is that it doesn't really add any functionality that isn't already on my home screen.
- The App Store is terrible. The card-view is a waste of screen real estate, and useless unless I am looking for a specific app I know exists. If I am browsing for something, it makes the process slow and inefficient.
-Force closes are silent and abrupt, and far too frequent for a phone that costs this much.
-And the continued inability for iOS to integrate my google login is a joke.
And ultimately, what I miss from Android that I've mentioned before:
-Google Play Store layout
-Useful notification tray
So in closing to this trilogy I would say this:
I hate my iPhone. If work wasn't making me use it, I would have returned it for a modern Android device (likely the GSIII or the Nexus 4 at this point, once it launches) or even one of those new sexy Nokia or HTC Windows8 phones. The switch was hard, it's not getting easier, and I am getting more mad the longer I own the device.