The iPhone 3.0 Report: Let the Lame Reviews Begin

June 17th, 2009

You just know that certain members of the media got an early look at both the iPhone 3.0 software and the iPhone 3G S. As a result you are now reading their reviews. Some are raves, some have justifiable criticisms, while others demonstrate that the reviewer or reviewers were clueless.

Just to put things in perspective, I upgraded my iPhone 3G with the 3.0 software shortly after it became available here in Arizona, which, in the summer, shares Pacific Time with the “left” coast. The upgrade itself went flawlessly; they always do for me. However, when I first ventured beyond my home office and attempted to check my email, it failed to update, and that held true until I restarted the thing. Then everything seemed all right, although it will take a few days to digest all the changes and determine if there are any significant show-stoppers.

When it comes to Internet performance, I failed to notice any significant differences within the range of powerful Wi-Fi connections or even where the 3G bars reflected a strong AT&T signal. This despite the promise from Apple of improved Safari handling of Web pages, particularly those rich with JavaScript content. Again, this will take a little time to parse and see if any of my favorite sites appear in a snappier fashion.

I also have hopes that I might be able to upgrade to a 3G S in short order, because of an important change in AT&T’s policy that I’ll get to in a moment.

In any case, after reading some of the early reviews, I was struck once again by CNET’s utter inability to get their facts correct. Now as some of you know, I wrote for them once, several years back. Though I had a good relationship with some off the editors, I was troubled by the lack of respect of others to the process of ensuring accurate content. I ran into situations where they asked me to insert negatives about a product, for example, even if they were either nonexistent or of little relevance. They wanted to make their cherished Editor’s Choice rating an exceedingly rare achievement I suppose. I’ll leave it to you readers to consider darker motives, such as potential advertiser influence.

Indeed, one of their former editors wrote a review of a printer, a Xerox solid ink model, for another publication that contained so many significant factual errors and unfounded conclusions, I wondered how it escaped the eyes of the editorial staff. Doesn’t anyone check facts anymore?

In their coverage of the iPhone 3G S, CNET seems to give it mostly accurate coverage, however. But they continue to rag on Apple for delivering a product with merely average voice quality on regular phone connections. Now understand that the best mobile phone on the planet — whatever it might be if it’s not the iPhone — will sound bad on a saturated network. CNET, however, seems unable to separate momentary connection conditions from the actual performance of the handset.

In any case, one of my acquaintances, a Mac-loving pharmacy manager at a local discount club, recently switched from the BlackBerry Storm on a Verizon Wireless account to an iPhone 3G on AT&T. He remarked how much voice quality had improved. Indeed, I find it little different from the Motorola RAZR and other devices that I credited with excellent call quality. So I really don’t know where CNET is coming from. Then again, maybe iPhones are so popular in the vicinity of their San Francisco headquarters that few will ever achieve a decent connection.

Their other criticism concerns Apple’s lack of support for true multitasking. Lest we forget, Apple’s explanation — or excuse — for the inability to run more than a single app at a time is the potential impact on battery life. Their solution is push networking, which debuted in iPhone 3.0. This feature uses Apple’s own servers to alert you to a message from another program, such as a waiting instant message from AIM. That will, of course, require support from the app developers, and AOL has confirmed that an updated AIM with that feature will be ready shortly.

CNET compared the iPhone 3G S with the new Palm Pre, and the author of the review made a curious remark that, in order to switch from one application to another on Apple’s smartphone, you had to quit the first app and launch the second.

As most of you know, the act of opening any app serves the function of closing the previous one without you having to search for the non-existent Quit command. I wonder what CNET’s writers are drinking, or maybe that’s just another factual discrepancy that their copy editors and fact checkers failed to catch.

Anyway, enough about CNET. There will be other reviews that will be good or bad in quality depending upon the writer’s dedication to the task. Alas, there are far too many hacks in this business who only navigated to technology because there were no other jobs available, or perhaps they hoped to spend much of their time playing with brand new toys with the added benefit of getting paid for it.

In any case, back to AT&T and their upgrade policies. Right now, if you have an iPhone 3G and a plan that costs you at least $99, you will be eligible to upgrade to the 3G S between 12 and 18 months into the contract. After getting tons and tons of complaints, AT&T has extended that policy to accommodate those who acquired their iPhones when they first went on sale beginning in July 2008. As of June 18th, at least so they say, they’ll be able to upgrade too for a limited period of time.

So it may well be that I’ll have a spanking new iPhone 3G S in my equipment arsenal real soon now. Stay tuned.

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18 Responses to “The iPhone 3.0 Report: Let the Lame Reviews Begin”

  1. hmurchison says:

    CNET and often ZDNET are so poor when it comes to technology coverage
    I have often wanted Google to give me the option of simply opting out of certian
    domain in my search.

    There are too many other choices to read that are far more insightful. Though because of
    their size and impact CNET’s SEO puts them on the first page of many searches.

    Google has taken steps towards allowing me to banish some results but frankly If I never read
    a CNET article or review I’d be none worse for the wear.

    My time a bit too precious to read shoddy reviews.

  2. Loving the 3.0 update. The “Find my iPhone” feature is cool. It was the first thing I tried after setting it up. I notice it could be used to send an immediate emergency message to the iPhone or iPod touch owner, as well. Looking for 3G S sales upwards of half a million units this weekend.

  3. @ Neil Anderson: I haven’t found anyone with the courage to remotely wipe their iPhones so they can see if they easily restore them. No, don’t ask me. 🙂


  4. Jeff says:

    I may remotely wipe my backed-up Edge phone before I upgrade to the [s] later today, once I’m sure the UPS driver has dropped it off at the loading dock.

    Perhaps we’ll get some sort of cute graphic?

  5. Jim says:

    Gene, you DO have to quit one app on the iPhone to start another. To launch a new app, you have to go back to one of the launch screens. Doing so quits the current app immediately. You cannot launch another app without going to one of the launch screens, therefore you MUST quit one app to launch another. This can be proved quite obviously by the fact that if you go Home from an app, then tap that same app again, it must restart.

  6. That’s double talking my friend. A launch screen launches the app it depicts; there is no other way to launch an app. As the app is launched, the app you were previously using is automatically quit. It’s not a two-step process.


  7. Jim says:

    Gene, you’re wrong. I just launched the AP Mobile app on my iPhone, and waited for the front page to appear and update. Then I tapped the home button. I launched AP Mobile again. The iPhone did NOT resume the AP Mobile app where it left off, it restarted the app with the same waiting time and update process.

    Another example: PRI is an app that streams Public Radio International live (in other words, you are not playing back individually selected, canned files or podcasts). While PRI was playing, I touched the Home button. The audio cut out immediately. If the act of touching the Home button did not quit the app, then the audio would have continued.

  8. If you relaunch an app it doesn’t necessarily pick up where it left off, but some do, such as AIM.


  9. Jim says:

    OK, but that obscures the issue. The fact that some apps can be re-started and take you to the last screen or state you had previously viewed doesn’t change the fact that pressing the Home button quits the app — the only exceptions being certain Apple apps and a handful that have received special dispensation from Apple.

  10. You say potato and I say potatoe. 🙂

    In any case, can you demonstrate from the iPhone SDK that the Home button enters a “quit” command or is just a method to get you back to the launching area?


  11. Jim says:

    Uhm, why are you asking me to look it up? I think I’ve given enough real-world examples that the onus is on you to demonstrate that apps are still open after pressing the Home button — with the exception of the Phone and iPod apps, of course.

  12. Apps are not open. I never said they were. We’re back to double-talk again. 🙂


  13. Jim says:

    Well then, I don’t understand at all what your point has been. If the app is no longer open after you press the Home button, isn’t pressing that button functionally equivalent to quitting the app? And if you can’t launch another app except by going to one of the Home screens, isn’t it true that you can’t launch another app without quitting the first one? Why not explain instead of just accusing me of using double-speak?

    If I may venture a face-saving (for you) explication, it seems you are upset that CNET is implying that users would have to use a “quit” button when there is no button labeled “quit”. Perhaps that was not there point–maybe they were simply using imprecise language to criticize the iPhone for not being able to run multiple apps simultaneously. But it seems to me that you’re committing the same kind of factual inaccuracy if you now concede that apps are “not open” after pressing the Home button.

    (Don’t you just love non-profanity-laced web debates?)

  14. You’re not answering my question, thank you.

    This discussion is over.

    But for everyone else, consider clicking on a link in Mail and having Safari open WITHOUT pressing Home first. Thank you.


  15. Jeff says:

    For those still wondering about the remote wipe activity, I’ve completed one on my old Edge iPhone after the [s] arrived.

    After logging into MobileMe and asking for the remote wipe, an e-mail is sent to your inbox stating that the action will be done immediately and “All media, data, and settings are being permanently erased from iPhone. The process may take up to two hours, depending on your device. Please note that this process cannot be cancelled.”

    Within a minute of the wipe request being set, the iPhone flashes to the Apple logo and remains there for two hours while a secure wipe is performed. Once that’s done, it asks to be plugged into iTunes just like if it were a new phone.

    I was hoping for a skull and crossbones logo during the wipe, but nothing even remotely interesting happened during the process.

  16. Jim says:

    It’s been fun.

  17. john says:

    Gene, the amount required for the earlier renewal/$199/$299 price is not $99 a month pre-tax but $99.99 and this amount is after any discounts or plan incentives. Yes, they are being finicky about the 99 cents.


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