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iOS

First time carrying an iPhone daily driver

By Adam Doud February 28, 2015, 10:00 am

A couple of weeks ago, I used a BlackBerry phone for the first time as a daily driver. I carried it for a couple of weeks a learned a lot about what it means to be a quintessential BlackBerry user. Today, I have dashed completely to the other side of the market share spectrum and I have entered another culture, which is in some ways more interesting and in other ways a bit scarier. Today, I am an iPhone user.

iPhone_5c_on_table

For the first few years of my career in mobile technology, I had in irrational hatred for all things Apple. They were too expensive, too limited, too…Starbucks…for me to take seriously. Yes the iPhone redefined the smartphone industry in many ways. But I had a perception of the average iPhone user as pompous, arrogant and yet mindless all at the same time. Never fear, iPhone readers – my initial impressions were wrong, and I’m the first to admit it.

Times they are a-changin’

A couple of years ago, I started working for a website – maybe you’ve heard of it, and my perceptions began to change. Slowly at first. I paid more attention to the tech and less attention to the spectacle. I started to see that iPhone users were still absolutely enamored with their devices – almost to the point of being unhealthy – but that there was a lot of reason to ~be~ enamored with them. iPhones weren’t so bad, and let’s face it, Apple puts on a good show.

Then I went to work for an iOS app developer. The technology gods laughed at me as I came home that first day with a Macbook and an iPad. That was my first time using iOS, pretty much at all. I wrote about it then too. Fast-forward to today, when I’m picking up an iPhone to carry as a daily driver for the first time. I have a very not-sexy iPhone 5c, courtesy of my colleague from Boston. But now I can actually use iOS as a phone, which is where the rubber meets the road.

iPhone_one_hand

Teensy weensy

Right off the bat, this thing is tiny. I’m not going to dwell on this point because it’s really no longer the case for many, many users. But I am absolutely floored that people used – no damn it, they ~defended~- phones this small for so freaking long. This isn’t about using the platform now, it’s about using it then. “Then” was an insanely long time to use such an insanely small phone. That being said, my wife likes the size, and I’m told she’s always right, so what do I know?

But we’re going to move on because as I said, that’s no longer an issue, really. Plus, let’s admit that that small screen is pretty darn handy in the one-handed department. Sure it’s not the most convenient thing to watch Netflix on, but it beats the hell out of Alcatel’s solution. Sorry Alcatel. Using the iPhone one-handed is a simple affair and that was laudable in its time, but let’s face it. Big is in, and even Apple is on board that train now.

Home madness

Moving on to the home button, we find arguably the most complicated single button in the history of buttons. You press it to do one thing, double press it to do another thing, and press and hold it to do yet another thing. If that’s not confusing enough, on newer models you put your finger on it to do something and double tap (but not press) to do yet…another…thing. How does an iOS user keep this stuff straight? Show me an iOS user who says they never initiated an action they didn’t intend to, and I’ll show you a bald-faced liar.

Granted, Apple doesn’t have a whole lot to work with in this department. There are a lot of actions it needs to perform and one single solitary button with which to do it. They have squeezed this utility sponge dry. I’m not sure it’s the best way to get things done, but it’s a way. There’s still a ton of unused space at the bottom of the phone to accommodate for this button. Make it capacitive and spread the love a little would ya?

iPhone UI

Bottom’s up!

One thing iOS developers have gotten very right is UI. Both Twitter and Facebook – arguably my two most frequently used apps – have all their UI elements at the bottom of the screen, which is where they belong. This is not the case for tablets, of course, because tablets don’t have to be used with one hand, so it was a new experience for me on iOS.

Siri is a function I don’t use much on my tablet, because I’ve wracked my brain over the last year to think of a good reason to use Siri on my iPad, and I have yet to think of one. But on phones, a voice assistant is crucial. Siri has been great thus far, when I remember the correct home button press to initiate it that is. But it knows who my wife is, it knows where I live, and it can even update my Twitter and Facebook statues, hands free (well, after you push and hold the button). It’s a really solid digital assistant thus far. In my extremely limited use, I don’t recall a single command it has misinterpreted. It’s not very personable, but hey, we can’t all be Cortana, right?

Blending in

Finally, when examining the culture of the iPhone user, I’ve come to realize one thing. Gone are the days when a person might strike up a conversation with me because of the phone I’m using. Given my obsession with “weird” phones, this happens more often than for the average bear. I love to talk to people and I love to talk about phones, so this is a bummer for me. But at the end of the day, I’m just using “an iPhone.” I’m another people carrying one of the most popular phones in the world. It’s absolutely unremarkable. Maybe I’ll enjoy some time off and privacy, who knows?

So, those are my first impressions. It’s a pretty mixed bag I think. There’s some really nice stuff going on here, and some stuff that takes some getting used to. I’m open-minded, and I’m looking for your input. Some of you have used iOS longer than me (and probably most of the team). What are some tricks I should try out? Do you have any thoughts on how to make this phone really shine? Post them down below and help me out. I’m trying to live the full iPhone experience and the culture, and you, my dear commenters, are part of that culture.

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