iPhone 3.0 – First Impressions

Well, I’ve been running the new iPhone 3.0 software update for a whole 3 hours now. What have I learned thus far?

Firstly, it is that Apple can’t handle everyone updating their phones at once. The update is of course delivered via iTunes, and it’s pretty much acting as if it was a self-inflicted DOS attack on the iTunes store. It’s timing out constantly, letting you in occasionally. Which is a bit frustrating if you’re trying to use the store in general. It’s very worrying if your phone appears to be blank because it hasn’t yet been authorised by iTunes (it has already, but for some reason it needs it again for this update). Oh well. I guess Apple will learn their lesson from this one, as it has to shaft their sales on iTunes for the day quite nastily.

Okay, so having passed through that hurdle, I got it up and running, and tried sending my first iPhone MMS. I’ve been waiting for this feature for a while, seeing as I had it on every one previously for the past few years. The interface for doing this is really nice, just click the camera button, and if you’re happy with your shot, it will put it as a thumbnail into the flow of the conversation. However it then turned out you have to wait for O2 here in the UK to turn it on. It failed a couple of times, then a little while later I got a couple of texts from them to say “it won’t work until we turn it on for you”,”okay, we’ve turned it on” (Got a tip from @jturnbull that this would happen when I was moaning about it on Twitter, which was most appreciated). Sent it again after this, and it worked fine.

That’s the moaning part of the post over now. What else? Well, it’s a few little things thus far. I’m a big podcast listener, so I was impressed to find a new little feature they’ve added, which is for podcasts only (not ordinary music tracks). You can now play them at half or double speed. The double speed could be useful for talk podcasts, as it seems to still be a sensible understandable pace, so you could speed-listen if you want. As someone who occasionally gets massive backlogs of listening, this could be rather handy for me.

Spotlight, a search feature from Mac OS that has been added to the iPhone, works beautifully. Just scroll left from your home page, and start typing. It’s searching and finding words in my email very quickly, and it is something I see me using a lot. Cut and Paste works fine. And the new voice recording application is nice, saves files to the phone, lets you email them to people, and they also show up in your phone folders on iTunes. It is a bit quiet though, be prepared to talk fairly loudly. It just isn’t as powerful a mic as say the N95 has (which if you’re so inclined, and I’m not, is a boon for concert bootlegging).

Finally for now, you can sync Notes to iTunes. However what you don’t seem to be able to then do is to find them on your computer. Which is kind of the point of syncing them (okay I lied a little about the moaning ending). I seem to recall that they may add something proper to handle this in Mac OSX Snow Leopard, but they maybe could even have just added something in iTunes for now.

So it’s not a bad start, couple of frustrations, some nice little twizzly bits to keep me occupied. However I’m not really expecting too much to begin with, as the real meat of the 3.0 update is in what it offers developers. Lots of potential in that, and that potential will start to be realised over the following weeks and months as developers start to both update their existing applications and write new ones that take advantage of the expanded feature set on offer.

A pleasant lazy day

I took an extra day’s holiday, just to make sure I had enough time to get over New Year’s Eve. As it happened, I didn’t get that drunk, but as I’m still a bit ill (have been full of snot and cold since about the 23rd), I did need the extra time just to relax that bit more. Played games, listened to podcasts, and generally accomplished nothing of consequence. Just what I hoped to achieve.

My current list of podcasts

Last night I entered a list of podcasts I listen to into delicious. I’m going to try later to turn the full list into an OPML file, so they can be loaded into a podcatcher or indeed into the Podcasting app on the Nokia N95 if you want. They’re a good mix, obviously leaning towards tech, but if nothing else you’ll get some new shows to try.

Channelflip shows on the Nokia N95

When I heard about Wil Harris and his Channelflip network, I had to check them out. Wil is based here in Oxford, and looks like he is trying to replicate the sort of video podcast offerings that Revision 3 have, but from a UK point of view. Which is fine with me, nowt wrong with getting some more British accents into the podcast world.

Channelflip has three offerings at present, Unwired, a tech show presented by Wil, Play:Digital, a gaming show, and Discus, a DVD review show.

I did hit a slight issue trying to get subscribed to these shows on the Nokia N95, the issue being that none of the stated feeds worked for me. However I had a sudden flash of inspiration, and realised that I needed the iTunes feed, but needed to open it without the itpc protocol that the URLs for those feeds use. So I copied those, put http at the start instead, and they all worked for me in the Nokia Video player app. If you want to do this yourself, the links are:

Unwired: http://feeds.feedburner.com/Unwired-iTunes
Play:Digital: http://feeds.feedburner.com/Playdigital-iTunes
Discus: http://feeds.feedburner.com/Discus-iTunes

Applications I’m missing at the moment

I was just thinking about the applications that I don’t have, that I would like. So I thought I’d write a quick list, explain them, and then revisit them in a few months time to see if they exist. I was going to put SMS notifications for Google Mail for my phone on there, but a quick check just now revealed they have added that since I last checked, so I’m one up for the evening already!

  • Firefox Mobile – I have to admit, I don’t mind Mobile Opera. However it does seem a bit basic, and I’m not that keen to have to pay for a browser with more features. I’d like to use what I’m so used to using on my computer, and ideally to be able to extend it to do many other things.
  • Decent Nokia software for Linux – I’m lazy, I just want to plug it in, and it to do all that it does in Windows, as that is a rather nice little suite of software. One day.
  • A proper movie file browser and player for Ubuntu – What I want is a self-updating catalog of all my movie files, thumbnails (in a perfect world I’d just hover over the thumbnail for a couple of seconds, and it would start playing in the thumbnail itself, so I could identify it if it wasn’t clear), and proper indexing and searching. I’d love something for video that was the equivalent of Amarok for audio. Kaffeine is almost it, but the index/search side lets it down a bit. This may be down to my knowledge of it though.
  • A way of syncing contacts between Google Mail and my phone – Again, I want an easy life, and I just want them all to keep up to date, rather than having to maintain two lists.
  • An open-source program that edits CSS in a WYSIWYG style – I’ve heard tell that this sort of functionality is creeping into Dreamweaver now. Great, I’d like it for free. Ideally in a way that would plug into Eclipse as well.
  • Something that manages podcasts perfectly – I’ve never found this since I started listening to podcasts. It’s always felt that it’s been tacked onto music programs such as iTunes. Amarok does a better job than most, but it still feels like hard work some times. I’m going to think about this more, try and describe what I’d want.

Well that should do me for starters. How about you, what applications do you want that you don’t have yet?