Initial impressions of the iPhone 3GS

I got my iPhone delivered Saturday morning, and I have been playing with it heavily all weekend. This is a post about my initial impressions of the phone.

Unlike a lot of the people who would have reviewed the iPhone, I’m not a big phone fan. My previous phone was a cheap pay-as-you-go device, and I’ve owned a palm PDA in the past. I’ve owned a couple of iPods, too. So I was expecting something which felt like, well, a phone, a PDA, and an iPod mashed into a single box.

But this is something else. The combination makes it a different class of device from any of its constituent parts. It is quite hard to articulate how it is different, but it certainly is.

It has started to teach me something about application design, for a start.

Take the feeling of things being integrated and automatic. The phone is sold with unlimited web connectivity – 3g and EDGE and wifi – and has gps, and it has a camera. Now, I would expect to be able to take a photo, and then be able to look at a map, and then browse the web a bit. What I wasn’t expecting is apps that write blog posts, take photos, automatically geocode them with information from the gps, and then upload them to my site and inject them into the blog post. That makes it really easy to share stuff you’ve seen.

I never used the camera on my old phone because it was difficult to get the photos off. Once they were off the phone and onto my PC I would have to upload them onto flickr or FTP. Then I would have to get that URL and copy it into the body of the blog post. It was all such a hassle that I never bothered. Now, I can do it right inside the wordpress app that was free on the app store. So I’m going to be doing it a lot more, I think.

Which brings me on to the app store. There are an awful lot of apps available, and they really are very good. I have long experience with palm, and that always had a good community of developers and products, but thos is a level above. The app store seems to make it worth developer’s time to write apps; I suppose because apple deal with the money and the front end (the app store itself) it is easier to get something written. The small number of different phones must make a big difference, too. A friend of mine used to write java apps for phones, and spent a great deal of his time just making sure his app worked on as many of the hundreds of popular phone models out there. Since there are only a handful of different models of iPhone, I imagine that’s a lot easier.

Anyway, enough for now. I am just delighted with this gizmo.

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