MobileMe

Yet another iPhone update

I’ve now had an iPhone4 for a few weeks and my wife Anne has had my old iPhone 3G running iOS 3.1.3 for the same few weeks.

While Apple is being raked over the coals for how they’ve handled reception issues with the iPhone4 Anne and I are incredibly happy with our iPhones. I’ve had one obvious dropped call with the iPhone4 and Anne has had none with the 3G. Both phones are working beautifully.

It’s important to note that neither of us are experienced or heavy mobile phone users but both of us deeply appreciate the design and ease of use of the iPhone.

Reception issues and bumpers
I’ve watched the Consumer Reports video showing iPhone4 reception dropping when the bottom left corner of the phone is touched. I can reproduce the problem on my iPhone but not to the extent that they do in the video. I’m not denying it’s a problem but for me, it’s no deal breaker.

Apple was out of bumpers when I got my phone but I just got one (ordered online) and while it may improve reception by shielding the gap in the antennae from touch, I’m using it for protection, not improved reception. However, with the bumper on reception here in my office as gone from 2 to 3 bars and that’s meaningful.

Given the issues Apple is having I do think they should be giving a bumper to iPhone4 users and for those who bought bumpers already, a credit. Bumpers aren’t cheap although they are well designed and work well to protect the phone.

FaceTime
I’ve had a dozen successful FaceTime calls with people all over the world; FaceTime works smoothly and while I’ve been video chatting on computers for years, somehow Apple got it right on the iPhone4. I hope they transfer this technology to Mac OS at some point. Some would say that the fact that FaceTime doesn’t work over cellular networks (yet) and only over wifi is deception in advertising but I doubt that seriously:

People have been dreaming about video calling for decades. iPhone 4 makes it a reality. With the tap of a button, you can wave hello to your kids, share a smile from across the globe, or watch your best friend laugh at your stories — iPhone 4 to iPhone 4 over Wi-Fi. No other phone makes staying in touch this much fun.

I agree.

And people are doing FaceTime on planes with wifi networks. I had no idea this was possible and I can’t wait to try it.

MobileMe
I was an early .mac user and I never liked the service, it was unstable and poorly designed. I dropped it after a year of frustration. For the first year I had the iPhone 3G I used iTunes and a cable to update contacts and calendars and I generally pushed data from my Mac to my phone, using the Mac as a master and the phone as a slave/reader.

I decided to give Apple’s cloud service, now called MobileMe another try and bought a family subscription for Anne and me when I bought the iPhone4.

While I still think MobileMe should be free, I have to say that it has worked like a charm for both Anne and me for syncing our iPhones to our respective computers. It works in the background to push updates back and forth and lessens the need to do a cable sync with iTunes.

More
I’ve been using the multitasking feature of iOS4 quite a bit and it’s working well for me and the improved camera in iPhone4 is a joy to use.

Again, I’m no power iPhone or mobile phone user but both Anne and I are extremely happy with our iPhones and with MobileMe. We’re having fun.

Free MobileMe!

The iPad in the Eyes of the Digerati

Tim O’Reilly makes an important point beyond iPad:

Media and application syncing across iPhone and iPad is poorly thought out. MobileMe, which should be Apple’s gateway drug for lock-in to Apple services, is instead sold as an add-on to a small fraction of Apple’s customer base. If Apple wants to win, they need to understand the power of network effects in Internet services. They need to sacrifice revenue for reach, taking the opportunity of their early lead to tie users ever more closely to Apple services.

I’ve been saying two things for many years now:

1. Whatever Apple offers as an online service for it’s users should be free and built into the experience of using its devices. When you get a Mac, iPad, or iPhone or any current or future Apple device that can communicate via the internet, you get a free Apple account with email, syncing technologies to connect all of your devices and a bit of storage, both public and private to share your information with others. This is such a no-brainer for Apple I find it hard to believe that Steve Jobs has allowed this deficiency to sit for so long, seemingly untouched.

2. Most products that Apple has offered as online services have been terrible: eWorld, .mac, MobileMe all suffered and suffer from a seeming inability to take in the best of what’s going on outside of Apple and use the great stuff to make Apple’s offerings even better.

When many of us were ditching AOL for the freewheeling internet and web, Apple was still struggling to offer proprietary and expensive services for Macintosh users to hold them in. It was a mistake and Apple continues to make this mistake with MobileMe.

What holds us in is the great design, the ease of use, and our love of these great products. Making MobileMe better and free would encourage and support people buying even more Apple hardware knowing that moving information between devices is easy and free.