Thursday, 28 August 2008

What's wrong with the iPhone

So you probably know by now that I've got an iPhone 3G. My last blog post bemoaning the convoluted methods required to transfer contacts and calendar entries kind of gave that away. So instead of waxing lyrical about how great the iPhone is, I'm going to be a bit more critical and list all the things that are wrong with the iPhone! If you are considering a purchase, think about these things carefully, you may miss them more than you think when they are gone.

No MMS support: I mean really, come on! How long has MMS been around now? Yet Apple have decided to not support this. Crazy.

No SMS folders: Yup, there are no folders on the iPhone for your messages. No sent messages, no drafts etc... Very frustrating. Want to save a message to send later? No can do!

No video recording: It seems that Apple have deemed it unnecessary for the iPhone to support video recording. The 2 mega pixel camera seems to have attracted a lot of press. To be honest I can live with that, the images are pretty good to be fair. But you can't use the iPhone to record video, even low end budget camera phones support this. The iPhone is supposed to be top of the range yet it lacks this feature.

Can't change battery: Yet again, and as seems to be standard on Apple devices, you can't access the battery. This isn't a big issue yet, though it does limit how far you can travel without a re-charge.

No Flash support: The iPhone has a great web browser. Using the internet on the iPhone is a pleasure, not some torturous experience you force yourself to endure like on some other phones. But they missed out a Flash player, this can be so very frustrating when you follow a link to be greeted by a Flash site that just won't work.

No Javascript: Similar to the Flash criticism above. You can become suddenly unstuck when browsing a website when it uses JavaScript. You'd be surprised just how many sites do and won't work on the iPhone as a result.

No cut & paste: This is quite a common complaint, and it is a fully justified one. I've never had cut & paste on a mobile before to be fair, but the iPhone with all its other great features is just crying out for it.

No Flash: No, I'm not repeating myself. The iPhone has no flash, camera flash that is. Forget about taking pictures in a dark environment you won't see anything.

Poor 3G: Okay, not an iPhone problem exactly, but as it's only available on one network I think it qualifies. 3G reception is atrocious, O2 have a really poor 3G network. I've just joined O2 from three, three's 3G network is amazing, they have fantastic coverage. The same cannot be said for O2, and they don't seem to be in a huge rush to roll out improvements either. I live in an area with no 3G coverage from 02, yet three gave me a full strength signal here. Even venturing into a large town only gives me 2-3 bars of 3G signal on the iPhone.

Crippled performance: Even when you do have 3G, the quality is limited. YouTube doesn't perform any better than it did with Edge due to limitations set in the firmware. You aren't allowed to use the iTunes store unless you are connected to a wireless network and the AppStore is limited when using 3G.

Poor Synchronisation: As my previous blog entry explains, sync'ing your iPhone to a Windows PC is a painful experience if you are trying to port contacts and calendar entries but don't use MS Outlook. Work arounds exist, but they shouldn't have to, it should be easy to synchronise with more than just one program.

Bugs I found a bug tonight as well, if you use the stopwatch and hit the lap button then it puts the lap time in the list below but then resets the timer. This behaviour Is wrong, the total time should be cumulative and should not reset at the end of a lap. There are other bugs I've heard about but this is one I came across on my own. Not the end of the world but it makes you wonder how a feature bug like this has made it through testing. I have to add up all the lap times to get a total.

As a whole package the iPhone is fabulous, there are many great things about it. But for Apple to have completely brushed over numerous basic and fundamental mobile phone functions is inexcusable. The first iPhone was always going to be touch and go and mistakes could be forgiven with it being their first foray into the mobile market. But they've had time to listen to consumers now, find out the weak points and fix them. Yet many still remain and Apple seem intent on continuing to ignore them.

Having said all that, I still love it. And I'm not even someone who likes Apple products, I've never had an iPod and never owned a MAC. Something about the iPhone is just special.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

iPhone 3G - Google Calendar and Contacts sync

How would one go about syncing calendar and contacts from a Nokia N73 to a new iPhone 3G?

Sounds like it should be a simple task right? ... Wrong! The contacts bit was fairly easy, you just nee to use the Windows address book. Don't worry if you don't use Outlook Express normally, you only have to do it the once and it's all done. Copy your phones contacts to the Windows address book using the PC Suite, then use iTunes to sync your address book to the iPhone. Simple!

However, Calendar entries are a lot more problematic. iTunes will only work with Microsoft Outlook on Windows, if you don't have it then iTunes will tell you "No supported calendar application can be found". Not very helpful really, especially when you find out Apple only supports an expensive Microsoft application that you probably have no need for. I certainly wasn't going to buy it just for this, so I set about trying to find an alternative method that didn't involve me entering hundreds of appointments manually!

While I was searching for potential solutions I suddenly remembered reading something about synchronising my Nokia calendar with Google. So I thought, if I can get my calendar onto Google, I'd then only have to get it back off Google onto my iPhone. I'd solved it, or so I thought....

Actually getting my calender onto Google wasn't that hard, I found a web service that will do it for you with the built in sync software on the phone. GooSync was the the place to do this, simply register for an account. They send you the configuration in an SMS message which you save to your phone. Then you allow the service to access your Google calendar, a few seconds later all your events should have magically been transferred for you.

We are now half way there, unfortunately GooSync doesn't have any support for the iPhone, so I still had to figure out that bit. In fact it turned out to be the hardest part! You see Apple really do like to make things awkward sometimes. A lot of the things they do are brilliant, but every now and then they like to throw a spanner in the works and shoot themselves in the foot. There is just no easy away to sync Google Calendar with the iPhone. Hours of searching turned up no perfect solution, it just didn't seem to exist. Just as I was about to give up my prayers were answered and along came NuevaSync!

I managed to use NuevaSync to get Google Calendar to sync with the iPhone. Not only does it send all the events to your iPhone it also offers 2-way synchronisation, so changes you make on the iPhone are sent to the Google Calendar and vice-versa. Many of the other horrible solutions won't allow 2-way communication so this is a big bonus for NuevaSync. That and the fact it's free as well!

You should bear in mind that it's only in beta, so use it with caution. I've only had a quick play with it, but everything seems to be working flawlessly. It uses Microsoft Exchange so you don't have to jailbreak or install any third party applications, just enter your NeuvaSync account details into you iPhone and it works!

It's also compatible with contacts too, so you can sync your Google contacts using the same account information. If I'd known this before I'd have used it to sync my contacts as well instead of doing it through Outlook Express. If anyone tries this let me know how it goes.

Quite frankly this is an amazing service that I would be perfectly happy to pay for, so for it to be offered free is brilliant. It will be interesting to see how long it stays free once it's out of beta and demand goes through the roof :)

For now though, if you have an iPhone 3G, and you've got a Google Calendar, this is by far the best solution out there!


1. Create a GooSync account.

2. Enable GooSync to access your Google Calender.

3. Save the SMS from GooSync to your phone.

4. Allow the synchronisation to occur auto-magically.

5. Check your Calender entries are saved in Google calender.

6. Set up a NeuvaSync account.

7. Enable NeuvaSync to access your Google Calender.

8. Enter your NeuvaSync details in your iPhone. WARNING: At this point you will lose any Calendar entries in you iPhone, they will all be replaced with your Google Calendar.

9. Wait for the Calender entries to be transferred across to you iPhone.

10. Create or edit Calender entries on your iPhone or in Google and watch as they are sync'ed on the fly.

Sit back, relax and marvel at modern technology. ENJOY!

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Star of stage and screen

I'm going to be on TV, well actually, probably only the back of my head.... but we all have to start somewhere! Also, it's only the local news, so unless you are in East Sussex you'll miss out. Anyway, those that get a chance can tune into Meridian Tonight at 6pm on Friday to see me at work.

You see we had a film crew come in yesterday to make a feature about the theatre and the show that is currently running. There are several bits that had me in shot, though how many will make the final edit is anyone's guess. They did ask me for an interview being the stage manager, however I politely declined their offer. You see, I work behind the scenes for a reason, I'm happy not being seen!

If anyone does see me though, leave a comment and let me know... but I'm not holding my breath. I'll be the only person wearing black, probably with a set of cans stuck on my head.... much like my profile picture come to think of it!