Sunday, September 16, 2007

Cage Match!

Head to head. Mano e mano. Winner take all. That's what my two week test of the iPhone is all about. I'm a Treo user who's also a die hard Mac user and my mobile usability requirements are pretty tough as I travel a ton.

Here are the categories I've been evaluating on :

Mobile Network, phone / contacts, email, calendar, web, google maps, single hand operations and overall ease of use/GUI.

Mobile Network : Winner : Sprint Treo. Sorry Apple, EVDO and excellent coverage for the past 8 days even in NYC beat out AT&T.

Phone/Contacts : Winner : Treo. I can locate and dial contacts faster with the Treo and get into the phone app without having to go through the main menu. Hey Apple - give up some better options to quick dial contacts and get into the phone app quicker (ie. perhaps have a default app option?). Call quality? iPhone. When I can get a decent signal, the calls sound awesome. But those silly bars. All over? Yeah, riiiiiight. I'm all over and they ain't. Trust me.

Email : Tie? While the iPhone imported all my settings, after that the "sync" option was a misleading feature as aside from the initial setup, there's no syncing of sent mail, received mail, etc. Tisk tisk! If the iPhone would actually SYNC with the, that would be a kick butt capability that would win the hearts of many Mac business users. The email app on the iPhone is a little weird in that when you select manual mode for fetching mail, you'll note that there's no "get mail" button ... the manual part assumes that when you go into email that you want to check mail. No, this is a terrible UI mistake. Guys - manual mode should have a 'fetch mail' button, no assumptions. As for composing email? This (again) goes to the Treo. Sorry Steve, no matter how your tout the touch screen, the physical keyboard rocks. Riddle me this - do you use a period (.) in your emails? Yeah, I thought you did. So do I. WHY DOESN'T THE PERIOD EXIST ON THE KEYBOARD WHEN COMPOSING AN EMAIL?? Using two taps to get punctuation is just insane. Really insane. Not insanely great mind you, that's something entirely different! ;-) And deleting mail? Yeah, that's a joke. tap tap tap tap tap .... someone save me! On the plus side, this is a software issue that is fixable. So, Apple can win this one back. (that's why its a tie - I think Apple will fix this so I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt)

Calendar : Tie. The Treo is nice, but the Palm desktop app was built back in the stone age when Palm thought PDA's were cool. Hey guys, you make phones now - time to get some new desktop software to keep up with the actual product. Apple needs to add more options in iCal.

Google maps : Readers and friends know I live (and die) on this app. Again we have a tie. While the iPhone's larger resolution is excellent, the app is missing some decent options that the Palm version has. I thought the touch screen would be an issue for scrolling since I really think the jog on the Treo is the best UI for this, but it works well either way. The iPhone zooms in and out way faster than the Treo. But the Treo has EVDO and can crank through maps a light speed compared to AT&T's (dead) Edge network. Both apps need to have bluetooth GPS integration!!

Single hand operation (easy on the jokes here folks!) : Treo wins. There are UI issues in the iPhone (especially in email) where single handed operations are difficult and require some serious thumb capabilities to reach the nav buttons. The Apple UI team needs to make note that all smartphones kinda look the same in terms of UI layout because single handed operations push all nav to the bottom half of the phone. Again, Apple can fix this and should gain points back.

Overall use? iPhone. Dude, its sooooo sexy and fun to use. (but a pain to keep clean). My Treo works like a tool, the iPhone feels like a toy. You'll notice that I didn't comment on the whole iPod capabilities for one major reason. I don't need or care for it. Sure, its cool, but kinda useless (for me). I won't use it on a plane for two major reasons - 1) when I land I want all the battery juice I can have since I don't know when I'll see a power port again and 2) the iPhone's headphone jack is recessed and my Bose headset jack can't get in there. Ever try to use those crappy earbuds that Apple gives you on an airplane? No thanks. I like to actually hear my music or video (or Diggnation podcast) without having to have the volume cranked all the way up.

But the real question is : will I keep it?

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