After having my iPhone for a little over two weeks it is clear that it is the best gadget that I ever owned. I am not a gadget guy, but I certainly appreciate elegant design and useful tools. iPhone's ease of use, intuitive interface and great set of built-in applications amount to a device that is hard to resist. People who have not yet seen it think that it's over hyped and not a big deal. Well, I'm here to say that it is a bid deal.
People who own other intelligent devices from Motorolla, Blackberry or Sony Ericsson have pointed out that features found in iPhone have been around on the market for a while. That is true, iPhone certainly is not the first touch screen device and not the first smart phone. But it is likely the best executed one to date. It packs a punch across the board, but it also excels in little details that make a big difference. In this post we will take a look at 10 simple things that make a user like me very happy.
10. Slide to Unlock
To unlock the iPhone you simply need to slide a graphical slider from left to right using your finger. This is an intentional gesture. It's basically impossible to accidentally unlock your iPhone and call someone while the phone is in your pocket (as sometimes happens with other phones).
9. The Home Button
The only prominent physical button on the front face of the iPhone is the Home button. By pressing this button while in any application, the user is sent back to the application screen. This is a simple solution to a problem of letting the users effectively navigate between applications. The fact that the button is physical elevates its importance and makes it instantly clear and simple to use.
8. Horizontal / Vertical View
iPhone automatically detects when you rotate it 90 degrees. Several applications respond to the rotation including iTunes and the Safari Browser. In iTunes the rotation causes a switch into a cover flow mode, while in Safari more of the page width is automatically fit into the view. For most web browsing, horizontal view is generally easier.
7. Rich Web Browsing
Fitting the web -- the real web and not a stripped down mobile version -- onto a handheld device is a really difficult problem. The iPhone is takes a major step towards solving it by using a combination of tricks, including page zoom, rotation and flip-through Safari tabs. Whenever a user navigates to a page a new tab is created.
The history button gets users into a mode where they can flip through the currently opened tabs. Each tab has a an X next to it, allowing users to easily close it. The whole experience feels quite natural even though it is very different from the browsing experience on laptops and desktops.
6. Zoom Gestures
One of the most fun and useful things that the iPhone sports is its highly touted multi-touch screen interface. One of the gestures, the pinch to zoom-in/zoom-out will probably become the iPhone's most recognized touch gesture. This motion can be used consistently through the different applications - photos, maps and, of course, the web browser. A simpler gesture - double-tap, is not as slick, but just as useful.
5. iTunes Cover Flow
The iTunes cover flow is hands down the coolest feature on your iPhone. The experience is even better than on a computer, since you are scrolling through the albums with your hand. But its not only fun, it is different way of rediscovering the music in your collection. Clicking on a cover makes it flip around. In this mode, you can select a song or rate the album.
YouTube and the whole social video phenomenon is on the iPhone, just 1-click away. The fact that YouTube is directly integrated makes a huge difference because it would not really work via the browser. With this integration, the users get access to a lists of featured, most popular and recent videos. You can also bookmark and search videos just like via the web site. The videos themselves are optimized for the iPhone and play surprisingly well.
3. Everything is Synced
Calendars, Email, Photos, Movies and Music are all synchronized. Just like with iPod, you can configure what from iTunes should be transfered to iPhone. But my favorite syncs are contacts, email and calendars. The Contacts are synchronized both ways, so you can enter them either via Address Book or iPhone. Email can be synced with any POP client, I've configured mine to access GMail and it works well. Finally, iPhone automatically syncs with iCal on your Mac. The calendar interface on the iPhone is great showing a sequential list view in addition to the typical daily, weekly and monthly views.
2. Everything is Integrated
The iPhone delivers an integrated experience as it connects the applications in the way we would expect. After you take a picture, it lets you assign it to a contact. When my wife calls me, her picture shows up on my screen in brilliant color, which really makes my day. If you listen to music and a phone call comes in, the music automatically pauses, then resumes after you hang up. If you're looking at an email with a phone number, you can press it to make a phone call. Collectively these small things add up to create a whole new kind of experience, one we are not used to from other phones and handheld devices.
1. iPhone is Simple
And my number one favorite thing about the iPhone is that it feels simple. I experimented by letting my 3 year old twins and my 83 year old grandfather play with the touch screen. The twins were flipping through album covers in a matter of seconds. My grandpa mastered the scroll and the pinch gesture in about a minute. These are the least high-tech folks you will find, but yet they were able to pick up the iPhone almost instantly. This says a lot about the device and its potential.
If you have an iPhone and used it for the past few weeks please share your experiences with us. What are your favorite features? Is there anything you didn't like?