iPhone 2.0 3G: Initial Productivity Assessment

17 07 2008

I’ve been able to play around with the iPhone 2.0 3G for the past few days.

It’s definitely a great phone. Apple fanboys will really play this up, another reason why Apple stomps MS. Skeptics will play up the inevitable cons. And I probably fall more on the line of a fanboy with each incremental Apple device I pick up, thinking how amazing it is that an electronic device can give you a comforting, warm fuzzy feeling.

For the cool factor, most agree it’s a no-brainer though.

However, the main argument against the iPhone comes from BlackBerry users citing superior e-mail push and functionality largely due to the lack of tactile keyboard (see comments on this Web Worker Daily thread). Most, including myself, have cited the iPhone as “just a toy” not suitable for real business usage.

So how does the iPhone stack up from a productivity standpoint?

What’s good?

  • Keyboard Works Better Than Expected. Before getting the iPhone 2.0 and based on limited testing, I was one of those who shunned the iPhone based on its touchscreen keying. The biggest downside I’ve found so far is that walking and texting/e-mailing is seemingly impossible: you actually have to concentrate when there’s no tactile feel for typing. That being said, I’m remarkably fast when I am concentrating on said keyboard – it seems faster than my old Treo.
  • E-mail Setup Fast and Accurate. In syncing with my MacMail settings, e-mail worked immediately on my iPhone. I’ve struggled with numerous problems in the past with Windows Mobile; Blackberry tends to work pretty well.
  • App Store. Developers and Web 2.0-types are most interested in the new App Store this time around. It has to be the coolest new platform to come through for a while, enabling application ideas that not too long ago were only pipe dreams. When cross-platform interoperability can increase networks to the HUGE user base of mobile users, it will become the greatest network ever. Loopt for location-based social networking. Music matching and collection based on a live audio matching. Pandora for incredible music recommendations and streaming radio on the go!
  • All in one. The convergence of a phone, visual voicemail, GPS device, sync’ed life recorder (largely delivered via Apps such as Evernote, more), Internet browser, games machine and more in one really makes this device a killer.

What’s limited?

  • Easy, Almost Too Easy. In typical Apple fashion, simplicity and ease of use means there’s a limit to functionality within the device. Moving mail around folders is really easy but there’s no multiple select for marking items as read, for example. Lack of copy & paste is another.
  • Push E-mail. The push on e-mail is not as seamless as Blackberry. There may be tricks to improve this, but my iPhone really does seem to be pushing e-mail to me.
  • Flash! To me, this is huge. A large number of sites use Flash for simple graphs and navigation, such as Google Analytics. This is pretty important to me, and productivity suffers because even highly business-related sites become more limited without the use of flash.
  • Apple Lockdown. Since I did write about tethering my Treo with Bluetooth to my MacBook Pro, it stands to reason that I grew attached to that backup solution if I was unable to catch a WiFi signal. By locking down the iPhone, you have to jailbreak the iPhone in order to tether your iPhone to use the 3G connection as a modem for your laptop. As of this date, we’re still waiting for free WiFi from AT&T for all wireless customers at all Starbucks. As great as Apple can be, this is where their control for great purposes goes too far and goes wrong.

So there are pro’s and con’s. But what does this means from a productivity standpoint?

One pivotal piece to mention is that I instinctively did not think of applications I wanted to install from a productivity standpoint as much. Yes, my Facebook activity may be a little faster. Yes, productivity tools like Evernote can be great life sync tools moving forward. But will there be a Microsoft Office killer app? I don’t think so.

Yes, I think that net the iPhone makes me more productive for many of the above reasons. It falls short because of Apple’s choices, largely constraints made due to limited screen real estate. But it’s also a lot of fun.

Finally, I would question anyone that says you are really that productive on a phone. The iPhone does a fine job with many productivity tasks, despite some limitations. You still need the full screen experience to get real work and production done. Short, pithy e-mails plus piecemeal clean up so that you don’t have a pile of things waiting for you at the office after a long day away, are great to be able to do, but to me that’s not where the real work is done.

Entertainment can be done better on the go. A PSP or a Gameboy holds its own when you want to waste some time on the go.

As far as the evolution of the phone goes, I see a “good” productivity device and a “great” entertainment device to be as good as it gets. And the iPhone is getting close. Please improve some of the limitations and I’ll rave even more :-).

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One response

16 12 2010
iphone 4

An additional application, which will drive you crazy, is its location-finding feature using GPS. Utilizing this application, you are able to usually figure out your location. The screen on your iPhone shows the point where you are on a map.

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