fhtagn (fhtagn) wrote,

Why I Didn't Like My iPhone, by fhtagn, aged well and best stored in a cool, dry place

I've got a new toy. It's an HTC Desire, and I ended up with it after trying out an iPhone, returning it and telling my original service provider to go stuff themselves. Having shop-monkeys insist that the Sale of Goods Act doesn't apply to them (it does) and that there's nothing they can do (there is) is not fun. I strongly suspect that this is a direct result of the shops being, in fact, a separate business entity from the service provider whose name they bear. As such, they can rely on ignorance of the law, laziness and fear of dispute escalation to make most people shut up and go away. Anyone who doesn't, they can bump up the chain to someone else and voila, not their problem any more. Either way, I got it sorted out, though it took far, far longer than it should have. Long story short: Orange Shop employees were deceitful, unpleasant and rude; Orange Customer Service people, in the call centres, were polite and helpful. Orange, either way, no longer has my custom.

Returning to our original narrative and it's purpose - I was unhappy with my iPhone. I am now very happy with my Desire, though there are some niggles which I'll get to shortly. Likewise, there are some things which I really liked about the iPhone. Well, one thing. The interface was fantastic. It was easy to use, intuitive and uncomplicated.

The Desire's interface, and indeed whole set up, is not uncomplicated. In a few cases, it's quite fiddly. It took me longer to get the hang of it (albeit probably a difference of 5 minutes as opposed to 1), because there are so many more options at any given point. To me, this is actually an advantage. Now that I've got it set up, it feels far more like my phone rather than merely a phone. It does things the way I want them done, which is to say actually fairly minimalist. The real killer for the iPhone, for me, was when I plugged it in to my laptop and it started charging. Charging, and nothing else. You see, you need extra software (iTunes) to copy the default stuff across. And extra 3rd party software just to access the file system. And extra software depending on which App you have installed to copy across relevent stuff for that. The iPhone, in my eyes and hand, suddenly became a pretty, shiny, brightly coloured light flashing paperweight. It wasn't mine, it was Apple's and they were graciously allowing me the use of it, provided I didn't do anything they didn't want me to do.

The Desire, when I plugged it in, popped up a menu with options like "Charge only", "HTCSync" "Internet Sharing" and "Disk Drive". It charges on all of them, and I've no desire to keep my Outhouse calendar corresponding to my phone calendar, but I appreciate that others might. Selecting Disk Drive means that the phone functions like a USB drive, strangely enough. Want to listen to music - copy it to the MP3 directory. Want to read documents - copy them to the Docs folder. Want to copy anything else you might conceivably want for whatever software it runs for you, just copy it all across. Oh, and should you want to write your own software, or use software that didn't come through the Android store, you just uncheck a box in the settings menu. I believe Apple require a fee and special developer's software (or that you jailbreak your phone) for the same. Essentially, the Desire feels like a small and powerful computer with a sightly idiosyncratic OS, whilst the iPhone feels like a small and pretty gameconsole - excellent for gaming, but only if you want to be stuck only with Nintendo games. The Desire is a phone for, well, people born in the latter third of the twentieth century who are comparatively well educated and computer literate. The iPhone, on the other hand, you could give to your aged granny and, assuming her eyes can cope with the small screen, she'll be up and away in no time.

As I said, the Desire is not without niggles. Firstly, there's no default access to the filesystem from the phone itself. Secondly, the default task manager analogue, for killing unwanted applications from memory, is needlessly fiddly to use. Thirdly, the actual phone part of the system is the least intuitive system of all to use. It took me three or four goes to work out what bits do which things, which whilst not actually that bad in the grand scheme of things is a bit poor for a device which is, after all, a phone. Fourthly, the volume buttons are about where I normally rest my finger when holding a phone to make a call. Yes, that's rather personal and also easy to fix, but hey, it's a niggle. Finally, Stanza is iPhone only. This means that reading eBooks on t'Desire requires that they be .txt, .rtf. .doc or .ePub. On the plus side, .ePub is just a form of XHTML, which means that *everything* converts trivially to it. Somewhat depressingly, Stanza is abandonware these days so not only am I unlikely to get it for the Desire, but it's likely to become incompatible with future iPhones as well.

And, since nothing about a smartphone would be complete without a list of apps (God I hate that fucking term - what's wrong with application, or software, or even fucking Programme?) and widgets I find helpful:
*Wordplayer - an ebook reader which conveniently syncs well with Calibre, my eBook converter of choice.
*Easy Notes - A simple text editor, and where my shopping lists live.
*Advanced Task Killer - A task-manager alike, and much faster and easier to use than the built in one.
*NetCounter - It just records and reports your bandwidth use, which is generally handy to know, especially if you're on one of the more restrictive contracts.
*ASTRO - Access to the file system and the ability to read certain common file formats.
*GPS Status - This gives you very simple data from your GPS receiver and compass, including orientation, Latitude and Longitude, instantaneous speed, acceleration and height above sea level. All very simple stuff, and really you should be able to get this sort of thing by default.
*MapDroyd - I've not actually played around with this much, but my initial diggings have been favourable. Unlike the default Maps app (which runs off Googlemaps), this one allows you to download vector-based maps and use them offline. I suspect it'll be phenomenally useful when travelling.

Widgets (Both are preinstalled, so just need activation):
*Power Control - this one's great. It just adds a bar of 5 buttons allowing you to turn on or off WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, AutoSync for various applications and screen brightness.
*Airplane - A one-button widget for turning Flight mode on and off.

The default Music and News widgets are also quite useful, News in particular. It's actually easier to scan the BBC news site for stories with it than to visit the site on my 'puter because it doesn't hide them away in subpages. Yes, I probably miss a few, but I still actually see more, I find, because the layout is so much cleaner.

Editted: To fix some spelling mistakes which have been staring aggressively at me for a while now and which have now paid the price for their brazen defiance.
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