Apple unveiled the iPhone at Macworld in probably Steve Jobs’ proudest moment to date, causing Apple fans to salivate in a typically Pavlovian response. Given my love of mobile gadgetry but distrust of fruit-related electronics companies, several people have wondered about my response to the device. In keeping with their usual design manifesto it is very sleek and very pretty. Replacing the entire interface with a gigantic touch-sensitive screen seems like a masterstroke since I have always been pushing for the largest screens possible without expanding the devices too much. At first, anyway.
My initial worry was about people’s grubby fingers all over the glossy screen which but there are more serious issues. The interface is flawed, much like Apple’s two-button mouse, in that there is no touch-based feedback to the user. Fumbling in your pocket or in the dark there is no way to swiftly lock or unlock the iPhone, let alone dial. When it came to price there was an unsurprising divergence between Jobs’ rhetoric and the maths. He claimed the price point of $499 (on a 2-year contract) combined the $199 cost of an iPod with the $299 cost of a current smartphone. But that $499 is the 4GB model (an extra hundred will net you the 8GB version) while many iPod users now opt for the 30GB+ units. A measly 4 won’t be storing my music collection any time soon, certainly not if it’s shared with the rest of the phone’s features. I’m not knocking the innovation and thought that has clearly gone into the development of the new interface, but there’s a lot to take in here so don’t get carried away with the fanboy stampede.
The Cliché Finder is a nifty little tool for budding journalists and writers who worry that they may be overusing phrases without the requisite creativity that their chosen field is supposed to promote. Simply enter a block of texts and it will highlight any banal and regurgitated text that one ought to avoid. I actually believe myself to be guilty of this on many occasions, but was pleased to find that entering the current front page of site entries it flagged up only a single misfit, “end result”. Proverbs, on the other hand, are a whole different matter. All they usually require is a lion.