The Apple iPhone is no longer cool, and the company’s share price has dropped. It is no coincidence that this happens at the precise moment my employer takes my trusty old Blackberry from me and replaces it with a shiny black wedge of iPhone 5. Since I hate phones and phoning, I have never had a personal mobile, so whatever the company gives me is what I (barely) use.
My initial reaction: the Blackberry is for adults and the iPhone is for children. Still, after a few days, and fixing things so my emails are forwarded to it, I am growing a bit more accustomed to the toy.
Challenge number one, as you would expect for an item dedicated to corporate use, was transferring a load of MP3s onto the beast. Unlike a Blackberry, which you can plug into a PC and use as an external drive, the iPhone deliberately makes this difficult. You have to download the iTunes music player onto your PC, and even then you can’t just copy files, you have to ‘sync’ (don’t ask). I created a specific playlist and managed to transfer it onto the phone, but it was partly by accident and I don’t know if I could repeat the process. My one attempt at downloading an app failed because I lack some sort of Apple ID password; my attempt to get one failed, though I didn’t try very hard. I think the idea is to get you to see the PC as a subsidiary component of the iPhone rather than the (more practical) other way round, or just make you source all your software needs from Apple’s patch of ‘cloud’.
These constraints are obviously designed to ensure that Steve Jobs’ estate goes on sucking in revenue for eternity. Presumably if you cooperate and sign up to Apple this and Apple that, you can revel in all the music and fun programs you want, but it punishes you for stubbornly refusing to kowtow. All of which makes me wonder: why do so many people line up for nights to buy these things? (Or why did they until last week?)
Some people apparently admire its beauty. I’ve been told I need to buy a case, but there is a school of thought that the contraption is too beautiful to cover up. Mine will go naked for the simple reason I can’t be bothered.
It goes without saying that the Blackberry keyboard was faster, but improvements that make things worse are what progress is all about.
There are some good features. Rumours that what I’ll call ‘unofficially acquired’ music wouldn’t work on the thing are unfounded. Also, the camera is OK. I’m not sure how it does it, but you can take a 270-degree panoramic photo, and if the subject – long-suffering helper, in this case – runs behind you at the right time, you can get the same person in a picture twice…
Perhaps best of all, the web browser is 100 times better than the clunky Blackberry one, and you can do things like watch YouTube while crossing the street. This is probably the clincher.
On balance, this is a cynical product that attempts to trap deluded consumers in a monopoly by mesmerizing them with hyped-up ‘style’ (who cares how thin it is?) and some amusing features, a few of which might actually be borderline useful (like the compass for when you exit an unfamiliar MTR station). The boss should have gone with Samsung, perhaps. But it costs me nothing, so I can’t really complain.
One other drawback: if you’re not discreet, you look like one of these idiots you see all over the place constantly sweeping little shiny slabs’ screens with their fingers.
I will now try to download an app that declares the weekend open.