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The virtual keyboard of the iPhone has been the cause of many near automobile collisions

David Young's "Joyeur" Blog

I stood in line at an AT&T store last summer the day the iPhone first became publicly available. I thought the local Apple store would be mobbed. Four hours later the AT&T store was out of phones. With not much hope, I drove to the Apple store. Within 15 minutes I was inside buying two iPhones. So my relationship with the iPhone started out well, on balance. But I kept on using other phones on the side.

The virtual keyboard of the iPhone has been the cause of many near automobile collisions. Don’t believe in guardian angels? OK, but I don’t think I’m that lucky. I don’t have the fingers and toes to count the number of times I’ve been accelerating into the car or truck in front of me when I look up from http://m.twitter.com or Mail just in time to stomp on the brake. Honestly, I’m not that stupid to be trying to do actual work while driving. But I would like to check voicemail without unlocking the phone > touch phone icon > touch voicemail icon > grok the visual in visual voicemail (i.e. who called, and who do I want to listen to?) > touch the voicemail. And that’s about the time when I’m startled into an emergency braking procedure. Not to mention typing emails. Some at Joyent claim to be just as proficient on the touch keyboard as, say, a Blackberry Curve (one of the phones I kept using this past year). Has this claim been tested? Your mileage may vary, sure, but would any of us want to put up with this on a laptop keyboard? Touch to me implies physical. Gesture, now that’s where the iPhone excels. I say all this, but will also admit, in the end, I left the Curve. I really didn’t want to carry two devices. And Grandcentral SMS messages for voicemail reduced the number of touches required for voicemail.

While we’re on the subject of tactile interfaces, can we talk about the simple issue of object selection? I’m not Andre the Giant, but I find myself repeatedly frustrated trying to pick out the right item in a list on the iPhone. I want to call Mary, but I dial Mark. End Call. Try again. Dialing Marla. End Call. The Blackberry is brilliant for the little wheel that allows one to whiz through a list then press to select. There are up/down buttons on the iPhone that only seem to control sound volume. When I’m in a list, couldn’t those buttons be used to navigate?

It would be nice to have a bluetooth phone that does more than just wireless headsets. This was a shock to me last summer. That’s all for bluetooth? So, I was carrying around a Verizon EV-DO card for a while this past year, then saw the Nokia N95. I dumped the EV-DO card. The N95 is nearly perfect. Except for the operating system and the awful web browsing experience. But there was QIK and the 5 megapixel camera that would be great if photos didn’t take 5 seconds to click. That’s right. The take a picture workflow is: “OK, let’s take a picture. Smile! 5. 4. 3. 2. 1. Snap.” Doesn’t work with kids. But the N95 just works as a 3G modem practically out-of-the-box with my MacBook Pro. And there’s bluetooth synching for contacts, photos, music, calendar. I’ve become a fan of the slider form-factor of the N95, too. The N95 sits behind my Grandcentral account, too. That allows me to choose which phone to roll with. However, practically speaking, it’s almost always the iPhone. Unless I need GPS turn-by-turn. The N95 does that, too. And internet radio (remember: 3G). And Skype. And I could turn my phone into a wi-fi access point.

I abandoned the iPhone as an iPod within a week after purchase. The recessed plug was bone-headed design (if we can call it design). Is it just me or does “iPhone compatible” mean “works if nothing moves”? For this reason, the current iPod Nano is a better iPod for my needs than the iPhone.

The iPhone is the best mobile web browsing experience bar none. Nothing comes close. I’ve used Mobile Firefox on a Nokia N810 (another dalliance this past year) and it’s not close. Maybe it’s not the rendering that’s the problem so much as the absence of the incredible pinch gesture on the iPhone. Pinch and Flick are the killer apps on the iPhone.

Speaking of apps, I recently jailbroke my iPhone using ZiPhone. The experience has been great. I am sceptical about Apple’s plan to drive all application installs for the upcoming iPhone 2 through the iTunes music store. We’ll see how that works out. I’m sure we’ll see some great applications.

Do we have to wait in line for iPhone 2?

[This appeared originally here and is republished by kind permission of the author, who retains copyright.]

About David Young
David Young is CEO of Joyent, which he founded in 2004 to provide a comprehensive suite of Internet-delivered software and on-demand infrastructure for small to medium organizations. Prior to Joyent, he worked at Moody's Investor Service (1989-1999) in the Structured Finance, International, and Digital Media groups as General Manager and corporate Vice President and was co-founder and CTO of manageStar (2000-2004), an enterprise services management software company whose customers included TimeWarner, Sodexho, and Global Signal.

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Reader Feedback: Page 1 of 1

no kidding...what a joke

volume controls to scroll? did you also want a rotary dial to manually input numbers?!

Stupidest article I have ever read

sounds like the iphone ain't the phone for you moron. Pick a new phone and move on.

Joke of an article. First of all it is ILLEGAL and more importantly dangerous to drive and text. If you are so desperate to check your voice mail just hold down the #"1" key to enter voicemail. I hope you are driving where I live, idiot.
Secondarily, the ipod portion of the iphone works. I routinely use my iphone ipod function when I run.
Please don't use the iphone. Use the other junk phones on the market and if you text and drive, make sure you are on a country road and drive yourself into a pole.

I realize the author is not alone, but it scares me to think that people actually think it is ok to text or look at a web site while driving. Virtual Keyboard or no virtual keyboard.


Your Feedback
nuckelhed wrote: no kidding...what a joke
frank wrote: volume controls to scroll? did you also want a rotary dial to manually input numbers?!
Pondyian wrote: Stupidest article I have ever read
shea wrote: sounds like the iphone ain't the phone for you moron. Pick a new phone and move on.
Alex wrote: Joke of an article. First of all it is ILLEGAL and more importantly dangerous to drive and text. If you are so desperate to check your voice mail just hold down the #"1" key to enter voicemail. I hope you are driving where I live, idiot. Secondarily, the ipod portion of the iphone works. I routinely use my iphone ipod function when I run. Please don't use the iphone. Use the other junk phones on the market and if you text and drive, make sure you are on a country road and drive yourself into a pole.
Mike K. wrote: I realize the author is not alone, but it scares me to think that people actually think it is ok to text or look at a web site while driving. Virtual Keyboard or no virtual keyboard.
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