Not an iPhone review

There are plenty of iPhone reviews out there. This is not another. This post is just an observation as to why the iPhone is so different and inspires such goodwill from those who use it. It is simple really, but Apple has taken tasks that on most (all?) other phones are cumbersome, non-intuitive, and often just plain crappy and made them a joy. I am not really over stating this, the iPhone is really fun to use. Browsing the web is not reminiscent of the “real” real web, it IS the real web (ok a web without Flash – for now). Google maps works just like Google maps should. Email is great, not some crippled version, and the phone, despite what some have said, is very nice too. Almost all the interfaces are easy to use and it is easy to know where to go and what to do to make things happen. My previous Windows Mobile phone and my Palm PDA phone before that, took a while to master and it was only because I learned their backwards way of doing things was I able to manage on those devices.

This should serve as yet another lesson from Apple that design matters. Make interfaces (both physical and virtual) that are fun and intuitive and people will enjoy using them and tell their friends.

A couple other observations – No wonder there is a 10% restocking fee if you return an iPhone. With the amount of plastic they use – wrapping everything multiple times in their way. It would take a while to wrap all that stuff back up, I imagine. And what is up with the industrial glue used on the bags they put the phones in when you buy them. Not sure if it is the same at Apple stores but at the at&t store the clerk put the phone in this bag and then pulled away a strip between the two insides and the bag sealed up tight – had to use keys to rip a hole in the bag to open it. When we asked him about it, he said Apple was making them do that. Think different, I guess.

Why a Mac? Why now?

I didn’t really ever think I would be here. For years I have looked on as many of my friends and colleagues turned toward Apple for something better in a computer but I was scared. I thought that switching at this point would derail me for too long and set me back and as I design interfaces for web applications and sites, I thought that was a risk I couldn’t afford. But when it came time to purchase laptops for our new business, my partners and I were eventually drawn to the MacBook Pro for reasons that made sense for us technically.

For a long time I believed the primary draw of Apple’s computers was the shear sex appeal of the hardware. They look good, feel good, and are designed with fore site and elegance in mind. But form enough wasn’t enough to warrant the higher price tag and potential learning curve issues.

My first 48 hours with MacBook

I cannot believe how easy the transition has been for me in my switch from Windows-based computing to my new Mac. I admit I was apprehensive and had a lot of worries that I wouldn’t be up to speed as fast as I needed to be, but those fears appear to be unfounded. Sure there are a couple keyboard commands I am retraining my fingers on and there are a few Firefox extensions that don’t work well, but all in all I have been pleasantly surprised by the ease of the switch.

I am sure it will take a couple months to erase some of the muscle memory of hitting ctrl + c and v in favor of command + c and v and I there are no doubt countless little things I will find in Photoshop that could slow me down (like the save for web keyboard commands, that is an awkward hand contortion). I picked up the new wireless, Bluetooth Mighty Mouse too and have adopted a wait and see approach there. It is a great mouse in many ways but it seems a bit small for my hands and I can’t quite get it configured how I want (though the SteerMouse software I downloaded is helping by allowing me to set additional preferences and per application defaults). The Tab browser Preferences extension (does anybody else hate the change to the word “Add-ons”? I wonder if it has legal reasons) is something I cannot really live without and a couple others would sure be nice to have on the Mac side of things.

But let’s talk a bit about what I am impressed with. First off, and it really does strike you before anything else, is just how physically well-made these laptops are. There was a tremendous amount of thought put into the closing mechanism, the placement of ports, and the power supply. The keyboard has a great tactile feel and the back lighting and lighted indicators for num and caps lock are great.

Inside, the operating system is intuitive and clean. It responds quickly (even with only 1 GB of RAM. There were a couple things I altered right off the bat to make it feel better to me (adjusted the font smoothing down to 6 from 8; turned on full keyboard access for all web form controls (like check boxes), and adjusted the settings for Dashboard, Expose, and the Dock.

Third party software (while I lament the dearth of free options, has impressed with the overall level of quality in the interface department. Almost all of the applications I have downloaded (TextMate, Transmit, and Parallells), very nice and tied closely to the look of the OS.
There are still some things I would like to figure out, like how to efficiently use Dashboard and iPhoto, or how to get my Google Calendar to load into iCal like it is supposed to, but all in all I already feel very comfortable with my new Mac and am dreading going back to work in the morning and booting up my Dell.

Google to buy Sun?

Daniel M. Harrison at blogcritics has been all over the potential sale of Sun to Google and what it might mean. He, along with some others, have proposed a Google move into the financial services and healthcare industries.

“Google is going into Financial Services and Healthcare!” he exclaimed over the lengthy conversation. “This is the last stage of the Java project!”

This could also be the true start to the “G-drive platform” or GO-OS (Google OS) and could also mean the open sourcing of Java? This last part is intriguing especially as other platforms and languages gain ground* on the reigning king of the enterprise application.

This claim is, however speculative and not proven true by poor indicators such as book sales and various internet pundits.

Movies, books, dirty jokes, & fruit portraits

* If you ever corner me in a bar or such place have me tell you the story about Bob Sagat that Paul Provenza told the entire theater at SXSW 2005 after the preview screening.

Apples, angles & architecture