Missing in Action in iPhone 2.0

June 25th, 2008

As the world wonders whether or not you’ll be able to buy the iPhone 3G in the morning or the early evening come July 11, the real question is whether the new software has all or most of the critical features missing from the original version.

Yes, there’s some great stuff in iPhone 2.0, based on what Apple has revealed so far. Forgetting the faster Internet and GPS features of the new hardware, you’ll have push email, contact list searching, improved security, full Microsoft Exchange support, the ability to read more formats and other stuff. Then there’s the incredible promise of the App Store and all the marvelous third-party stuff that’s expected.

But Apple hasn’t come close to filling the wish lists of a lot of iPhone users.

Consider: California motorists will soon be prohibited from talking on cell phones without a hands-free hookup. More and more states are considering such laws — a few have them already — in a bid to keep you from being distracted while driving and getting into an accident. Unfortunately, they haven’t considered the fact that spouses and friends will still argue with you, that you might be chomping down a burger and fries or finishing that morning coffee while negotiating a traffic jam. Some people are even known to shave or apply makeup, but all that fits into the general category of distracted driving, which may get you a traffic ticket regardless.

Unfortunately, the iPhone’s hands-free features are seriously lacking. Just buy a bluetooth headset — any model — and you’ll see what I mean. Now try to use voice dialing. Sorry, that feature isn’t supported in the iPhone even with the 2.0 software — unless Apple springs a surprise upon us by the time the thing is released next month.

Yet even the most elementary wireless handsets that you get free with the requisite two-year plan have built-in voice recognition. It may be frighteningly rudimentary, but it’s functional. So why didn’t Apple, who touts the superior voice-related features in Leopard, expand those capabilities to the iPhone?

Why indeed!

Sure, some bluetooth interfaces for motor vehicles, including some of those popular navigation systems, will provide that capability, so you don’t need it on the phone, but that’s still a serious lapse that ought to have been addressed with iPhone 1.0.

Another missing feature is cut, copy and paste. Sure, this may present some obstacles with a touch interface, but I’m sure the brilliant programmers at Apple can figure a way around this dilemma.

What about being able to edit your Office and iWork documents? No, I’m not talking about writing a long manuscript. But just being able to apply a few simple edits ought will suit for a lot of you. Imagine, for example, you’re on your way to an important meeting, and you suddenly recall a mistake in a proposal. With editing capability, you can simply pull off the road, or into a nearby Starbucks, make the changes and email the revised document to your clients.

Piece of cake right? But you can’t do that with your iPhone.

When it comes to the hardware, just when will Apple deliver support for bluetooth stereo? How about being able to sync your iPhone with your Mac or PC via your Wi-Fi router? No, I’m not expecting support yet for the 802.11n draft standard, since that would require a higher power radio that would reduce battery life. The existing connection is surely fast enough.

Now, I don’t know about the hardware, but I expect a lot of this can be implemented in software, and that would possibly include being able to make movies with your iPhone’s camera.

I would also hope that Apple would take a little time to deal with some of the iPhone’s stability problems in the rush to add great new features. While call quality is pretty decent, considering the limitations of any digital wireless phone network, my iPhone tends to crash far too often. The obvious symptom is that you’re returned to the Home screen, which is the equivalent of an application quitting. I can duplicate a few situations where this might happen, such as making too many configuration changes in my email accounts in a single sitting.

Also, I think Safari’s rendering speed could be better. Yes, I know we are limited by a slower processor, and limited RAM, but, even with a speedy Wi-Fi hookup, you shouldn’t have to wait 20 or 30 seconds for a simple Web page to display. Maybe Apple could do something to optimize the mobile version of OS X.

I’ve also encountered yet another problem, and I don’t know whether it’s related to the hardware, the software or my car. You see, at times I’ll make a call when the phone has interfaced with my car’s bluetooth setup, and the audio sputters. Hanging up and calling back doesn’t help. I have to actually restart the iPhone to set things right. AT&T says it may just represent the need for the iPhone to renegotiate its connection to the nearest cell tower. But they’re not sure either.

Regardless of its potential shortcomings, though, I’m psyched about iPhone 2.0 and especially iPhone 3G. This is one story The Night Owl will cover on an ongoing basis.

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9 Responses to “Missing in Action in iPhone 2.0”

  1. Robert Kawaratani says:

    Hi Gene,

    Its good to know that Window Mobile phones are not the only crashing phones. After years of using Japanese cellphones with zero crashes, my WM5 smartphone crashes early and often. Its best to reboot it every two days otherwise it will crash for sure.



  2. Dana Sutton says:

    I don’t see that there’s any insuperable problem for the iPhone in autos. There’s a huge array of adapters on the market that can turn any Bluetooth cell phone (including the iPhone) into hands-free auto phones.

  3. Yes, but the free LG phone that AT&T offers provides adequate voice dialing with the $35 bluetooth headset you can get at a Wal-Mart. It will go with you wherever you are. The car-based adaptor is restricted to the car and costs a lot more.


  4. Adam says:

    I agree with the vast majority of this post, however …
    I find that the iPhone speaker phone works quite well if I tuck the iPhone into my driver’s side visor with the “bottom” pointed at me, or (even better) if I have it plugged into my Rabbit’s MP3 jack.

    I have only experienced the stuttering bluetooth twice. In one case it was the result of my inexpensive bluetooth headset failing to notify me that the battery was low, and in one case it seems to have been AT&T’s theoretical bad BT connection (read on for an easier solution than a reboot). On the battery warning front, most of the >$70 headsets actually warn you that a charge is needed, but the bargain priced ones I have tried (5 of them over the last 2 years) never do.

    To re-establish your iPhones wireless connections, all at once and quickly, use “airplane mode”. Go to the Settings page, turn Airplane Mode on, wait 20 seconds, and turn it off again. This mode shuts off all the antenna related hardware. As a result when you switch back, all connections are re-established. needless to say you will want to end your call first. This is an Apple recommended fix and I used it constantly at the Genius Bar for the first 2 weeks of the iPhone’s existence. Software updates have made the connections better, but they are not perfect. Incidentally my previous 2 phones%u2013a RAZR and a Nokia something%u2013both had this same issue with needing to re-establish BT connections.

    As for the crashing? My iPhone has crashed only once in the last seven or eight months. This symptom is usually the result of data corruption, just like on your Mac. Try restoring the iPhone through iTunes. That usually solves the problem.

    The missing features you mentioned? Amen Brother to all of them!!


  5. Just to answer your last recommendation: Yes, I’ve restored the phone. No change.

    But thanks for the suggestions. Let’s see how it all pans out in iPhone 2.0.


  6. Aaron W Uribe says:

    “Yet even the most elementary wireless handsets that you get free with the requisite two-year plan have built-in voice recognition. It may be frighteningly rudimentary, but it%u2019s functional. So why didn%u2019t Apple, who touts the superior voice-related features in Leopard, expand those capabilities to the iPhone?”

    A little bit older handset, yes, but my Treo 700p can’t do Bluetooth Voice Dialing, either.

  7. Which, of course, doesn’t make it right. 😀


  8. Steve Paris says:

    How about being able to view movies in landscape mode with the Home button on the left for OS 2.0? Right now as you know, we can only have the Home button on the right yet Safari and the Photo library for instance work in both orientations.

    There is no reason to cripple that orientation for movies since other parts of the OS don’t care which orientation is used.

    This would be a good thing to introduce and remove the annoying “having to rotate the iPhone/iPod at the start of the movie” game for south paws and those who accidentally had prepared to view their film in “wrong” way.

  9. How is it possible that i don’t see how many characters left while writing SMS. This I have I phone 3G 16GB and have to tell you that, I hated it. My old Nokia N95 is 1000 times better than this phone. I wish i didn’t give my old phone to my sister :((

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