Past few weeks I have become aware how I am using the mobile to do things I would normally use a laptop for.
Both cases involved booking a car and a flight respectively. I reserved a taxi at Heathrow with Greentomato using their iPhone app, which I chanced upon whilst clogging my way through their out-of-date and messy website. I did it in under a minute. It was way faster.
Ditto booking a few flights on easyjet.com the other day. Their site isn’t bad, but the booking process is too layered with countless extras, none of which I wanted. By contrast, their iPhone app flew through the process. This time I think I booked in just over a minute.
For both, I was struck my the ease. Apps are simpler, pared down, and they deliver. Let’s hope they don’t go the way of their cumbersome, clunky web-based equivalent.
YOU can’t buy an iPhone from a 3 shop in Denmark if you aren’t Danish.
Let me explain. Just the other day I went into my local 3 shop to join the iPhone bandwagon. As usual I had done weeks of research because I was buying some that cost more than a Pepsi and needed to be sure what I was doing.
Matey behind the counter remembers me from a previous investigative visit and smiles knowingly – “Ah ha! I have you!” he thinks.
And he does. He gets my phone and we begin the tedious paperwork process. But before pen hits paper, he asks, “Do you have any Danish picture ID like a passport or driving licence?”
No, and no. I’m English, see, so I have British passport and an EU driving licence.
“I can’t sell you the phone,” he says. “Our system needs that information for the subscription.”
“Do you lose a lot of business?” I asked. He nodded sheepishly.
Anyway, I left the shop, went home and bought it from 3’s website (for less, I might add) with the only inconvenice being a two-day delivery wait.
>A TOE-RAG found his way into my car the other weekend and helped himself to my iPod Nano. (Well, it was the wife’s but that’s another story.)
Lucky for me, he didn’t look in the boot where my laptop waited, vulnerable and alone. There’s not much crime in Copenhagen, but I was dumb enough to hide something away in the glove compartment so serves me right.
Anyway, with no iPod, I was forced to return to my old Creative Zen to listen to podcasts on the drive to work. First, I was incredibly annoyed at how difficult it was to use after getting used to the iPod. Then, when I got to work and hooked it up with iTunes, it sort of / seemed to work – some pods played as normal, others (Stephen Fry‘s podgram) didn’t. Add to this four days out of the office and I just fell out of synchronisation.
Even buying a new Nano didn’t help initially. Of course, combining it with iTunes was a step in the right direction. But I had a week or so’s worth of pods to catch up on and only limited driving time to hear them in.
It reminded me of serial television and why I generally avoid it – I can’t stand missing an episode because I feel like I’m missing something – jokes, references, story – in all subsquent episodes.
It was the same with the podcasts. Hopelessly out of synch, I knew it wouldn’t get better. iTunes would just keep getting new material and I would feel compelled to listen to it all or face spiralling confusion and fear that I was somehow missing something.
Then I copped on to myself and just deleted all the stuff I knew I’d never get round to. Still rankles a little. Completism (my term, I think), is a dangerous condition.
I know I will only be happy again when the number of podcasts in iTunes synches exactly with the number on my device. Only then will calm, balance, yin and yang or whatever it is, be restored.
> BUT BLACKBERRIES are not that much better either.
That’s as clever as I get. The other night I was in the pub with a mate, counting and reminding him of each occasion he saw fit to produce his new iPhone to make a point. I understand this, I would be the same with a new gadget.
I liked the iPhone, I liked how you could be a Jedi to use it, barely scraping the screen with one’s fingers to execute a command, the way the view tilted depending on which way up the screen was, and even the Wii-like motion control of a game he had.
Tucked in my pocket, and feeling a little inadequate was my work-suppplied Blackberry Curve 8310. It was my Anna Karen to his Penelope Cruz, let’s not be mistaken. The iPhone’s big screen was lovely, and the smooth and fast delivery of Google Maps looked especially good. My Blackberry has a smallish screen and chunky GPS (though it did navigate me home the other day when I got lost on my bike in Frederiksberg). Pete, the iPhone’s owner charitably entertained my Blackberry when I finally produced it for the purposes of comparison.
For all its delights, I found myself wondering if I would buy an iPhone. I’ve read quite a bit about how it’s a great personal device but lacking as, er, a mobile phone. I would be the same about a Blackberry, however. It is great as a work tool, and is already saving me time. But its usability leaves a lot, and I have found how to do most things I want to do on it by searching the web rather than getting any joy from the manual.
I’m not sure I’d buy it either.
I have such an on-off relationship with Apple. I started on Macs and switched to PCs because they could do the things I wanted to do. Recently, I found myself in need of a reliable podcast manager. I tried Juice (kept crashing), Creative’s whadjamacallit (not compatible with my Creative Zen Stone Plus! What?!), and Winamp (banned by my corporate IT). In frustration, I turned to iTunes and have found it by the far the best tool for my job. So much so, I am thinking of – shock, horror – buying an iPod.
But let me drag you back from Apple again. See, I think I rather like the slightly botched, Heath-Robinson extremes being a PC user sometimes sends me too. I unpacked my PC from storage a while back, from a time when wireless networks at home were just being thought of. With no wireless card in the desktop, I bought a Belkin wireless adaptor. Didn’t work, they said because it was not very compatible with my work-supplied wireless modem (it’s all about channels and what wireless signals are sent on them). I was about to give up the ghost when I remembered I had a Belkin wireless router. Long story short, I whacked it into the wireless modem and bingo! The wireless adaptor in my desktop locked on to it straight away. What nonsense. Would a Mac user ever put up with such cobbled together contraptions. Doubt it.