Monday, November 26, 2012

iPhone 5: First Impressions

The iPhone 5 is coming to life, as I write this. I thought I'd share some impressions so far.

The design: wow, is this thing light. Like half the weight of my iPhone 4. A perfect blend of light without giving a hint of cheapness: it feels milled, not produced. I opted for the black, as I always have, and I am amazed to be captivated by it. It's like looking at a grand piano on the stage of a concert hall: inky, deep, exuding class without anything other than the blend of the black, both shiny and oh so understated matte. With the Nokia 920 I was trying out, it was all about the screen, and the playful curve and color: this is all about...Apple.

The helpful AT&T staff activated the phone in the store. Not necessary, but nice. However, other than knowing that it's, yes, an iPhone 5, and yes, talks to AT&T's network, it was essentially a blank slate. So, when I got home, I promptly stuck my old iPhone 4 into the cradle, synced it...and things got a little weird.

First, iTunes detects it as a new phone; good. It helpfully does some basic housekeeping, then prompts you if you want to set it up as a new phone or as a backup of your existing phone. This is an interesting conundrum, maid more perplexing by absolutely no information coming up at that moment of any value, explaining what the difference between the two is. see, since the advent of iCloud, we hear all about how everything is cloud based, so what would the difference be? I opted to start fresh, setting up as a new iPhone...and found out that it primarily means that any attempt you have made at organizing the various apps is gone. Yikes...abort!

Ok, time to start over. Let's start by wiping out the iPhone. Simple, right? Go to Setting->General->Reset. Easy enough. Now you get a handful of options such as "Reset All Settings" or "Erase All Content and Settings." Now, I'm thinking that "Reset All Settings" looks like the proverbial Doomsday button I'm seeking, so with a vaguely disturbing glee. it gets pressed. All looks good, it appears to be resetting...but wait, the apps are attempting once again to load on it like an undead zombie rising from the grave! Instead of "Brainnnnnnssss," it's "Appppppssssss." Turns out, the more verbose "Erase All Content and Settings" is the one I wanted. Sigh. Press, repeat. All good: zombies vanquished.

Time for the Restore now. I had just synced the iPhone 4 with iTunes and iCloud minutes before, but the restore? For some bizarre reason it restored the backup taken on September 9th. I still have no idea why. What's the impact? Text Messages after that are not there, emails out of sync, podcasts all kaflooey. Worse, iCloud's poor contact syncing is back...have to kill that damned thing. Nothing tragic, but very un-Apple like. And on the first sync, about a half dozen apps were cheerfully reported to me that they could not install. No reason, no suggested approach, just that. A few more syncs later, and it begrudgingly accepted all but one (what do you have against Activision, iTunes?), but since many of the apps were downloaded later than September, now comes the fun of having to compare the new against the old and find the deltas. Sigh.

Seriously, is it this hard? It's not like people want to get a new phone and lose their personalized ringtones, text message sounds, and custom vibration patterns...really. Apple's supposed to be the master of making this easier, not like sorting a carton of Silly String. Instead of focusing so much on the absolutely pornographically stunning industrial design, how about putting a well-deserved bullet to the head of old iTunes and reinvent in the Cloud? Please?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to overcome my handheld luxury communicator's amnesia for the last few months. 

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