Angry Robot

A Year of the iPhone

After a few months the thrills wore off, and the iPhone became the less thrilling but still awesome item of massive convenience. I used it to get online when I was in my edit bay, which until recently was an internet no-no zone. Or, you might be happy to do an IMDb search while in a bar, settling an argument. Everywhere-you-go email notification is another mundane lifesaver.

Eventually you notice things wrong. Copy & paste, no wireless sync, no multitasking, slow browsing. Bad battery life. But to bring them up feels like complaining that the alignment in your solid gold car is slightly off.

Ultimately you get used to massive change. Change that stays still isn’t change any more. The iPhone has become part of me, another set of solutions to problems that might come up. I don’t notice now when I whip out tweetie while waiting in line for a coffee, or upload photos I just took, or whatever. But also in no way would I go back to my pre-iPhone life if I could avoid it.

That’s not to say I have to have an iPhone. I’m happy now that the Pre and Android seem to be giving Apple a run for its money, or at least promise to some time in the future. But what these are is post-iPhone devices, things made with an attempt to approach the feature set and polish of Cap’n Touchy here. I don’t think any of us wants to go back to pre-iPhone devices, stone daggers next to the Colt .45s we have now. Like the Treo with Windows Mobile. (shudder.)

From that perspective, iPhone OS 3.0, which I just installed, feels underwhelming at first. It is essentially a bunch of small fixes – search, copy & paste, landscape keyboard, YouTube account support, etc. etc. Browsing is sped up. These are all welcome. (Can’t say I give a shit about MMS.) I’d love to upgrade to the new phone to get the compass and video and voice control, but ultimately I may hold off for now. These additions are cool, but not $200 cool, and aren’t that big next to the huge changes I’ve already experienced this past year.

The jist of it is that the networked computer ultimately meant that us nerds got big brain upgrades, but only when near our computers. With devices like the iPhone, we get to bring our big outboard brains around wherever we go. I’m still thankful for that.

I think the most significant announcement from Apple last week was not OS 3.0, not the new iPhone, but rather the $99 price on the old model, the one sitting in front of me here. That means more people will get this thing in their hands, and perhaps experience the brain-enbiggening power I’ve gotten so used to now.