The Continuing Saga of A Geek Who (Once) Hated Apple

DIY Electronics GeekMom Technology
Photo by Emiliano Elias via Flickr

It’s been two months. I’ve had an iPhone for a grand total of two months. And I still straddle my Apple vs Other fence, yet to waver to one side or the other.

As with any piece of technology I’ve adapted to it. I’ve developed new muscle memory and am now accustomed to its quirks. My Droid now seems bulky and ungainly. My calls are on forward and Droid now exists as a very expensive alarm clock and occasional vehicular distraction tool for my daughter. (Unfortunately I’m still under my personal contract with Verizon and its a family plan so I can’t just cancel it. So there it sits, the world’s most expensive 911 emergency dialer…) I still have a soft spot in my heart for it, but I don’t think I could go back to it. However, if my iPhone were to be lost, broken, or taken from me, I’d go back to the Droid line in a heart beat. On the other hand, I’m not willing to chuck the Apple product either.

After a bit of good, hard use that finally extended beyond Angry Birds and Words With Friends, I do have some new observations. First, I still hate the on-screen keyboard. I don’t have fat, weak, short, or stupid fingers. I have freakishly long fingers, I type over 60 WPM, and play the electric bass. My fingers are probably stronger and more agile than your average mom. But so help me, watching me type on that keyboard, one would think I was using my big toe and tongue to hack out a message in Dutch. And it doesn’t matter how I orient the phone, I miss on about every other letter. Thankfully the auto-fill is nominally intelligent and catches most of the stuff I fail at. Although, one particular instance saw me text my mom that I was going to *PROFANITY WARNING* “Roast the penis and then fix the next bitch”. Apparently auto-fill thinks I have a potty mouth as that sentence was supposed to be “Roast the peanuts and then fix the next batch,” in reference to some holiday peanut butter cookies. Thanks to my inattention, I sent that. To my mom. To. My. MOM.

I also miss the back button. The Droid phones offer a back button that is reminiscent of your web browser’s back button. It flips you back page for page through the various apps you were working in. The iPhone 4 has something similar. You can double click the Home button and it will show you a list of all the apps running in the background, but it’s not quite the same thing. Scroll through, select the right one, and you are there. It might just be a personal preference or a habit born of way too many hours on Internet Explorer. (I know, antique browser technology. I use Google Chrome now, thank you.) But the back button is a forgetful mom’s best friend. I have a terrible habit of forgetting why it is I left an app in the first place. I blame it on the kid.

My third major issue with iPhone is the synching. It did not seem like such a dramatic ordeal to hook my Droid to my PC, move music files, pics, and videos from one to another. Doing this on iPhone reminds me of planning a family vacation. It shouldn’t be as complicated as it always is.

First, you can only synch to one iTunes account. Because this is a company-issued phone I have my iTunes on my work PC. Not a giant issue, as I spend more of my waking time at work than at home, all things considered. But I spend more of my time at home playing around in iTunes than at work. And if I get an itch to jam out to some old school Freezepop on Friday evening, I have to wait ’til Monday to get it on my phone. Chances are pretty great my longing for synth-pop will have faded by then.

Second, despite my every effort, and no small amount of knowledge about basic Windows operation, I can’t get either device to stop deriding me for asking two rivals to momentarily cooperate. Every time I plug my iPhone into my PC I get a friendly window reminding me that “This device is not optimized for performance with your Apple device.” Yes, I understand that I don’t have a Mac.  You needn’t remind me of that constantly. It gets a little grating after the 1000th time. I totally understand performance specs, compatibility, even guerrilla marketing techniques, but goodness gracious, people, know when enough is enough. I know damn well you can code that fun little message to shut up after so many attempts. Chances are pretty great that if I haven’t gone skittering out of the house to raid the Apple Store by message # 543, I’m not gonna do it after message # 544, # 545, or # 546 either.

Now, to my Jobian readers, this is not a “trash the iPhone” post. I’ve actually found quite a few things I truly enjoy about it. Not the least of which is, it’s so much easier to run with the crowd. The Droids are a bit of the underdog and having gotten a much later start in the app world, there is just not a whole lot out there for them. Plus, in the spirit of open source sharing, there is absolutely no moderation in Droid’s AppWorld.

Comic used with permission from xkcd.com

Apple iTunes & AppStore, for all the crap they get, win on moderation. While some apps are worthless just in principle, I can be sure that they won’t make my phone explode or my OS spiral into a codex vortex of doom, despair, and death. There is no such guarantee for Droid or Blackberry.

Plus, I love the accessories. Oh so many accessories. I’m well aware that the number of random cases available for technology should not be a deciding factor in whether or not I support the product, but I really can’t help it. When it comes right down to it, I’m very much a girly girl and having enough cases to choose from so that I can match my phone to my purse, which is coordinated to my outfit, which is then tastefully contrasted to my shoes…that is some sort of queer little mini-heaven for this geek. Then all the little plug-ins and extenders and ear buds and docking stations you can add, oh the possibilities are endless. Again, I know such things are available on other platforms as well, but due to popularity and longevity, iPhone has so much more available, and often for cheaper.

I’m still periodically floored by the internal gyroscopes. (OK, more accurately, they are gyroscopic sensors). I mean it knows how it is sitting and can sense the tiniest shift in position. Just a twitch and the phone understands. How freakin’ cool is that?

I’m terribly impressed with the resiliency of the machine. Having moved from the world of Droid where aerodynamics hadn’t really been a consideration, I was pretty sure I was gonna snap the cursed thing within the first day. When I first got it my accident-prone, butterfingers of a daughter wasn’t allowed to look at it from a distance, much less touch it. And the kid didn’t get those unlucky traits from thin air. Her mother isn’t any better. I’ve broken three cell phones out of the five I have owned, and that was being careful. I spent the first month babying it like a Faberge egg until I had my first major drop. Not just a gentle slide off the couch to the carpeted floor, but a good 4-foot drop to asphalt. I was helping my daughter out of the car on a rather moist day when her tennis shoes slipped. I needed both hands to prevent the face-plant and one hand had been holding the iPhone. The iPhone was replaceable, my daughter’s teeth, not so much. The phone clattered to the ground, my daughter was saved. I picked the phone back up expecting shattered screen and a lecture from the IT guy at work. But lo and behold, the thing was fine. Not even a chip where the corner impacted the ground.

The phone was technically in a case, but not one that I would think could offer much protection. The hard plastic kinds are more decorative in nature. They’ll protect from scratches sure, but impact resistance I doubt. Since then it’s experienced a few more minor falls and one incident involving an overzealous (hormone-induced) fingerprint removal attempt and has come through all like a champ.

Overall I’m still pleased with the product itself but have yet to fully jump on the bandwagon. The deadline for the purchase of my new laptop is looming ever closer and I still don’t know what to get. I still say that had I been spending my own hard-earned money, I likely would not have invested in the iPhone. As terrific the display, numerous the apps, groundbreaking the gyro, and prolific the accessories, the goofy little thing is expensive!

And not to get wrapped up in the good, better, best marketing ploy, now Verizon and US Cellular have 4G available. Really, couldn’t Apple have waited just a touch longer and released iPhone4G? I know, I know. Now the hyper-tech geeks who have an embedded urge to constantly have the newest and greatest will be suckered into buying a new $500 phone a mere eight months after they bought a now antiquated $500 phone and, cha-ching, the dollars keep on a-flowin in the good ol’ American capitalist system. (The previous was not a statement about the government, just the consumerism inherent in our culture.) Just once in a while I prove that I have not fully slaughtered the optimist I once was. Relax, I’m working on it. Tax season is just around the corner. That always gives me some nice blunt sticks to bludgeon her with.

So, two months in, I’m undecided. What do you get when you are undecided? Linux?

For full effect, also check out the first part of my saga in The Saga of a Geek Who (Once) Hated Apple. I begin my actual product research this month on laptops and will keep you updated.

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5 thoughts on “The Continuing Saga of A Geek Who (Once) Hated Apple

  1. If you Google a little, you can easily find instructions on how to sync your iPhone to more than one computer. Make sure that you have “automatically sync” turned off on your work iTunes and then there’s some magic you’ll have to do on your home iTunes to trick the phone into thinking they’re the same.

  2. I have an Android phone (HTC Evo 4G – through Sprint) and I love it. It’s sturdy and the screen is awesome. If you use Swype for the keyboard it makes typing a lot faster and much, much more accurate. The app store isn’t moderated, but with so many users, the good stuff is well rated and rises to the top.

    I found the iPhone keyboard frustrating (I also have normal fingers and kept getting a ridiculous amount of typos), so I’m beyond thrilled with the Evo’s touchscreen keyboard. And it has the added bonus of not having to deal with AT&T, who I used to have, who dropped my calls constantly.

    Also, about your computer – Ubuntu, a Linux operating system, is highly usable, free, and it takes up a whole lot less space on your hard drive.

    1. Just had to second the use of Swype! I used to prefer a physical keyboard like my husband’s Droid 2 has, but now I’m perfectly content with my Droid Incredible’s onscreen keyboard.

      By the way, the Droid line has gotten MUCH better since the OG. I’ve only ever seen maybe 5 apps that I actually wanted that were only available on the Iphone, and the hardware of the newer Droid phones are easily the equal of the latest Iphone. My mom was originally waiting for Verizon to come out with an Iphone, and got a Droid X to “tide her over” until then. Now she is hooked on her X and says she won’t switch even if they do pick it up.

      Not that the Iphone is a bad choice, by any means. It is a great phone, I just like more customization than it allows.

  3. $500? Maybe if you buy one off contract, but you’d pay that kind of cash for just about any smartphone off contract. Per Verizon’s website, “full retail price” of the Droid 2 is $570.

    Assuming you pick one up on contract, the 16GB iPhone4 is only $199. A quick scan of Verizon’s and Sprint’s website shows that’s about what you’d pay for any Android-powered iPhone4 competitor. The Droid X and Droid 2 are both $199 on contract at Verizon, and the EVO 4G is also $199 contract at Sprint. There are a few older generation Android phones for less money, but then the iPhone 3GS is only $99 and will soon be dropping to $50 to clear out inventory in anticipation of this summer’s new iPhone model.

    Nice xkcd reference. Love that comic!

  4. To be honest, I never wanted an iPhone either. That was before I got one. Now I can’t imagine life without it. I’m especially grateful to apps that aim to help moms. One app that I really love is called Intuition. It manages my tasks, to-dos, appointments, basically my entire life. Kidding aside, it really helped me stay organized and it’s free so why not? You can check it out on http://www.iconapps.com/product.htm

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