Illustration of Derek Powazek by Adam Ellis

Like Holding the Future in Your Hand

I am enough of a contrarian that even I was a little tired of the iPhone ads, blog posts, and stories choking my media input for the last few weeks. (I swear, if I ever meet that smug bastard from the iPhone How To Videos, I’m gonna kick him in the nuts.) But all that was forgotten when I swiped my finger across the screen and it sprang to life for the first time.

(Special thanks to Ben for picking one up for me from the Oaktown Apple Store. I’m just sad I missed out on the applause line.)

iPhone SynchingThe iPhone is an amazing device. It’s everything Steve promised, and more. Like a piece of alien technology that fell to Earth from the future, it changes your expectations of how you’ll interact with information technology from now on. And here’s the thing that Steve never said: It’s the rebirth of the Newton, Apple’s original (and ahead of its time) palm computing device, disguised as a cell phone. Think about it: a revolutionary device designed to free information from the confines of the computer, but with all the mistakes corrected: lose the stylus, add a phone, and enable the power of the internet.

Here are a few thoughts from my first day with the device.

Activation took 12 hours. I hear it takes minutes if you’re already an AT&T customer. I was changing from T-Mobile and moving a number, so maybe that slowed it down. The FAQ said I could use the iPhone but not receive calls during this time, but I couldn’t. After 12 hours, I called AT&T support (three times) and finally got a nice woman who activated the phone. Our call was disconnected before I could say thanks, so thank you nice AT&T lady!

Once it was activated, synching photos, music, movies, and contacts was a breeze. The included dock is a nice touch, even though you can’t get the phone out of it with one hand. (Maybe later when it loosens up.) Another nice touch: The dock’s cradle is too small to fit a normal iPod into, so there’s no chance of accidentally putting your iPod in it.

iPhone with V-Moda Vibe Earbuds - Works!I wasn’t sure if my previously purchased iPod accessories would work or not, but so far they all have. The V-Moda Vibe Earbuds work just fine. They’re missing the included mic of the Apple earbuds, of course, but at least they’re comfortable to wear. I can’t wait until third parties start making earbuds for the iPhone – the included buds continue the unfortunate Apple tradition of crappy, uncomfortable earbusters

My Bose SoundDock worked like a charm. The iPod displayed a warning message and invited me to go to “Airplane Mode” but I just cancelled it. Everything worked perfectly, even the SoundDock’s remote.

iPhone with Bose Sound Dock - Works!Even better, the album artwork looks just beautiful when it’s playing. Bonus idea: Someone should make a iPhone dock system that seats the iPhone in its horizontal orientation, so that you can flip through it in coverflow. (I give it six months.)

The iPhone screen is freaking gorgeous, the web browser is fantastic (at least on wifi), and the interface is a joy to use. After suffering through years of excruciatingly bad cellphone interfaces, using the iPhone is like a breath of fresh air. No, check that, it’s a tsunami of pure oxygen. It opens up a million things you could do with a cellphone now that it’s not a pain to use.

I have just one suggestion for Apple, and it’s two words: Grippy rubber. If you thought the glossy metal back of the iPod was a pointless smudge collector, the iPhone’s frosted metal back is just a cruel joke. It’s as it if was designed to be hard to hold – it begs to slip out of your hand. I’m planning on buying the first thin rubbery case I can get ahold of.

The bottom line is, this is going to be huge. Not just for Apple, but for the way we all think of technology. Personally, I can’t wait to see what happens next.

More iPhone photos in Flickr. »

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Hi, I’m Derek. I used to make websites. Now I grow flowers and know things. I’m mostly harmless. More.