iPhone first impressions

I’ve owned a smartphone on just about every platform except Symbian…Palm, Windows Mobile, Blackberry and now OS X.

The iPhone is by far the most fun I’ve ever had with a new phone. It’s also the first time as a Mac user that I’ve had a phone that works seamlessly with my operating system. That adds a lot to the experience.

I tried the iPhone keyboard many times over the past year and found the experience maddening. I was very concerned that I wouldn’t be able to get comfortable with the virtual keys.

I’m happy to say that while I’m not nearly as fast on the iPhone as I was on the Blackberry, it’s not bad. I love that when you enter text in a password field, you briefly see the last letter you entered. Maybe not as secure, but makes it easier to enter text accurately.

Battery life is going to be a concern. Before leaving the Apple Store yesterday, I bought 2 car chargers (one for Eric in his car, one for me in mine). That will help. I got in the habit of always charging my Blackberry while driving, and if I do the same now I should be able to manage. Not quite ready to spend $100 on the Mophie juice pack.

I originally dismissed the iPhone because it relies so heavily on Apple desktop applications (Mail, iCal, iPhoto, Safari etc.) which I don’t use. All my email and calendars are in Google, bookmarks are in Firefox, tasks are in Remember the Milk.

No problem thanks to Spanning Sync. This wonderful $25/year utility automatically syncs Google Calendar to iCal and Google Contacts to Address Book. From there, the data is easily synced to the iPhone. I entered my 4 Google email addresses in the iPhone using the built-in Gmail wizard, bypassing Mail on the desktop completely. RTM has a nice iPhone optimized site.

Since I use Firefox as my default browser, I’ve been keeping Safari open just so I can add iPhone-friendly bookmarks as I find them so they’ll sync to the phone. Is there a better solution for adding bookmarks from the desktop without using Safari? I don’t like the Foxmarks mobile interface much. 1Password, my long time password manager of choice, works great with iPhone Safari with a native app coming soon.

The iPhone mail application is okay, but of course here’s where Blackberry shines. For starters, how lame is it that you can only have one default signature for all accounts? I want one for C3, one for GigaOM and one for personal email. No go. I don’t like that I get one total unread email indicator on the home screen with no way of telling which box the unread email is in until I click all over the place. I can’t believe there’s no way to select multiple messages and mark them read at once. This isn’t advanced email…these are basic no-brainers.

I will say that one productivity application that is fantastic on the iPhone compared to Blackberry is the calendar. The iPhone calendar app is exactly what I hoped for in a mobile calendar.