I went to the Indianapolis Apple Store this evening for a Garage Band mini-class, and while I was waiting I got a chance to mess around with one of several iPhones on display.
I called up this blog on the miniaturized iPhone version of Safari and was surprised at how readable it was, at least once you put it in landscape display mode. All the formatting, sidebar and everything, was fine; the text was readable; I could even cram my fingers in to “click” on the links. Pretty impressive software job there. The data transfer was fast, too — I was using the in-store wifi and it loaded up CO9s in no time. I would have liked to see how it performs on the Edge network.
On the other hand, I think I would lose my mind if I had to use the little on-screen keyboard (pictured at left) for very long. It took me about two minutes and about two dozen typing corrections to type in “http://www.castingoutnines.net”. I was constantly hitting two or three “keys” at once and always getting the wrong one. Fast data transfer times don’t really mean a lot if you have to retype the web address 1000 times to get it right. I understand it’s supposed to be an adaptive keyboard, so it gets better as you use it, but it was just plain irritating to me. How could people IM with this thing? Sorry, Steve Jobs, but give me the fixed physical keyboard any day.
But it’s undoubtedly a cool little device. The iPod functionality is very nice, especially the use of CoverFlow and the ability to watch widescreen video. And I was surprised at how small and light it was. But count me out as an early adopter. This looks like a device that definitely will improve with age — indeed it might need a little time on the market to really get to the point where I’d plunk down >$500 plus monthly service for one.