OK, everybody knows there's no such thing as bad publicity, so we know that no matter what Steve Jobs does Apple Inc. will probably only benefit from it, no matter how shortsighted, shallow and controlling it is.

Steve Jobs is full of shit, in part, because of something he recently said (as reported by TUAW.com here: www.tuaw.com/2008/08/11/steve-jobs-discusses-app-store-with-wall-street-journal ) "Hopefully we never have to pull that lever, but we would be irresponsible not to have a lever like that to pull."

What's the lever he's referring to? Well, it's a killswitch, of sorts, that, when flipped, can shut down any app on your iPhone. Do you have control over this killswitch? No. Where is this killswitch? It's at Apple HQ, of course. Only Steve and those he deems worthy of the responsibility can access it.

Who does this fuck think he is?

HEY STEVE, you're not talking about the Nuclear Red Button.

What's the concern here, Steve? That Khan Noonian Singh will get a hold of my iPhone and try to, what? Destroy a fictional starship? WTF?


No iPhone app could possibly be as important as a nuke or even a gun, so why do YOU have the power to reach across the vast Internet onto MY iPHONE and shut down an app that I chose to download?

I did not agree to give you this kind of power over my phone. Plain and simple. Frankly, it's existence makes me think you're encouraging people to jailbreak in order to cut your line of control.

But it's not like this is the only issue of control Steve Jobs has over the folks that made him so rich (you and I, the customers). I remember getting my first iPod way back in 2003. I remember being stunned and frustrated with how confining the OS was. I had to organize everything the way Apple wanted me to. With my own CD collection, I could organize them by artist or album or genre or just throw them all over the place if I wanted to. With my first MP3 player, the Diamond Rio, I controlled everything from the file name of each MP3--no concern with helper apps like iTunes or ID3 tags or any of that crap. All the info I needed was in the file name and that gave me all the freedom I needed.

Not so, with the 3G iPod--and every other iPod and iPhone I've owned since then. In fact, the iPhone has even more constraints put on it. Playlists only work for audio--so if you want to dump a stack of episodes from your favorite series on your iPhone for a marathon, sorry pal. Can't be done.

Ever find you're walking down the street and you need to pause your music because you've just seen someone on the street you want to chat with? Good luck with the iPhone, there's no physical pause button anywhere on the phone, itself. You can double-press the home button and THEN see a pause-button appear on the touch screen--kind of a hassle if you're trying to make the move quickly, or, you know, without actually having to look.

Sure, you can double click the button on the official (read: crappy) earbuds that come with the iPhone, but what if, you know, you want to use headphones you actually like?

So, he's got us organizing our music His Way and using His earbuds if we want the "convenience" of an actual pause button.

Then there's the fact that you can't watch videos in portrait mode. Sure, you can watch videos in landscape mode with the home button to the right or to the left, but what if you just want to watch a video vertically? Just because you feel like it?


Speaking of the image-spinning-mode of the iPhone, how about letting us turn the damn thing OFF, Steve? I like to use my iPhone right before I fall asleep and right after I wake up, while in bed. If I put my head down on the pillow while reading an article on the web, the damn screen rotates, thus removing the convenience of having it rotate in the first place. This is STUPID Steve. STUPID, without an OFF SWITCH. (Heh, can you turn this feature off with that damn killswitch of yours?)

Back to the iPod features of the iPhone, why do I have to tap the screen to see the progress bar of the song I'm listening to? That's the first thing I'm curious about when I glance at the screen while listening to music.

When I'm watching a video, why does the on-screen display have to be so HUGE on the screen? Hell, why can't I just tap the screen to pause and double-tap to get the OSD to appear? Odds are the most common thing people will do is pause it, so why not make that the easiest thing to do?

I watch subtitled stuff a lot and sometimes I need to pause it to read the longer subs. Of course, tapping the screen causes the subs to be blocked by the controls. So, I tap to get the OSD up, tap pause, then tap the screen to make the controls go away, read the subs, tap again, tap pause and then tap the screen to make the OSD go away before the next subs appear. Yeah, seems like no big deal until you actually do it a bunch of times.

But why confine criticism to just the iPod features when there's just so much to hate? Let's move from right to left across that docky-ish-type thingy at the bottom of the screen (this is assumes the default layout of that docky-type thing). To the left of the iPod icon, is the Safari icon.

For starters, aren't you guys violating the same anti-trust (monopoly) laws that Micro$oft violated by forcing everyone to use your browser? Regardless, your browser sucks. It's slow to render (when I scroll, not even when I load pages), crashes often and there's no way to stop it from reloading a page once you've already loaded it.

For example: let's say I'm about to go on a subway and I want to read my Twitterstream and the news on my commute. I load up Twitter in a Safari window and then open a new Safari window and pull up CNN.com. I read the headlines at CNN as I climb onto my train and sit down. Then I swap over to Twitter and Safari tries to refresh the cache rather than just displaying what's already on the frakking phone!!

If you're not a total technophile, "refreshing the cache" means simply "reload the page". What's worse is that, since I'm on the subway, Safari throws me a "can't reach the network" error and then (get this) displays a black Safari window.

Yeah, screw you, Steve.

Do you know how insanely basic this is? Have you ever even considered a competitor's product? DUDE, my old SIDEKICK 3 met my web browsing needs more effectively than Safari for the iPhone does!! How does that make you feel, huh?

Sick, I hope.

The next icon on the docky-thing is "Mail". This is supposed to take the place of MMS on phones. Right, yeah. Too bad some people don't have access to email on their phones yet. Sure, in the future every phone will have the ability to check email while their users fly to work with jetpacks and flying cars.

But we live in the 2008, Steve.


ANYway, so Mail for the iPhone (note the upper case "M") is perfectly functional but about as elegant and user-friendly as my old Sidekick 3 was. Though, truth be told, while Mail for the iPhone has more features, the SK3's user interface was both easier and more simple to use. On top of that, Steve's little control issue pops up again. Want to use one account for sending but have all reply email go to a different address? Sorry, unless you set up that second address as a separate account on your iPhone, you can't. There's no easy way to swap out reply-addresses without having the account fully added. Pretty. Damn. Cumbersome.

The icon furthest left on the iPhone is the "Phone" icon. Don't ask me why it starts with an upper case "P". It's hilarious to me that the much-lauded "Visual Voicemail" feature has nothing to do with pictures. It's just a list of your messages. In fact, pictures don't show up in your favorites list either. This seems very odd to me since they're your favorites, right? The people you call all the time--seeing their happy little faces might be a nice (or even logical) bell or whistle to add.

I also don't get why, while you're making the call, the picture of the person you're calling is obscured by the OSD. What is it witch Apple designers and the obtrusive OSDs???

Just because we're out of icons on the docky-thing doesn't mean I've run out of criticisms of the iPhone. One of the things that generally bugs me about the iPhone's OS is the universal spellchecker/corrector. Like Steve Jobs, himself, the iPhone's spellchecker/corrector thinks it knows exactly what I need but really has no frakking clue. While it does get a lot right, it gets a LOT wrong, too. To be clear, I don't expect a spellchecker to be perfect--but neither should Steve Jobs expect it.


Cases in point: when I try to Twitter about my eee pc, the iPhone re-spells "eee pc" as "see of". One guy I follow on Twitter admitted to accidentally calling his friend a "homo" when his iPhone "corrected" a text message he was sending to his "homie". These are just two examples, I could really go on (but the other examples aren't as interesting).

There should not only be a way to turn off the spellchecker/corrector, but a way to customize it. Each user should be able to go into the dictionary settings and tell it which words to correct and which words not to. You know, just like Micro$oft Word lets you do! Sad, when a Micro$oft app does more than an Apple app.

Apple app. THAT'S SO CLEVER, STEVE! (No, I did not just work that out.)

While we're on the topic of customizing things on the iPhone, what's up with this Ringtone Naziism? Unlike my old Motorola SLVR, I can't just choose an mp3 I have on the phone to use as a ringtone or an alarm. Just like my old 5G iPod, which allowed me to only use playlists I had created before my last iTunes sync as an alarm, the iPhone has limitations on what you can and can't do with your own(ed) content.

I love Doctor Who, right? I'm a geek. Sure. As such, I like to use the Doctor Who theme as a ringtone. In order to do this, I had to dump my own copy of the theme into Garage Band, cut it down to 40 seconds and then output it as a Ringtone into iTunes. Too bad the whole song was already on my iPhone. Too bad, also, that the iPhone couldn't just play the first 40 seconds of that track when someone calls me. Yep, the mighty iPhone can't (or won't) do something as basic as that.

On the topic of ringtones, I'd like to know why I can't set up different ringtones and vibrations for everything that happens on the iPhone. I set up my Sidekick 3 to vibrate once for a new email and twice for an instant message. On my old MotoSLVR, I could tell it to say "THIS IS THE VOICE OF COLOSSUS" when I'd get a text message. The iPhone lets you customize what ringtone it plays ONLY when a call is coming in. For new text messages you get to choose only what his Steveness wants you to choose--in this case, it's one of a handful of boring sound clips like "tri-tone" and "chime" and "horn." No customizing what plays when a voicemail is waiting for you, or when an email arrives, or when calendar alerts pop up.

Then there is/are your, uh, home page(s). This is the screen your app icons reside on. TUAW.com's Erica Sadun came up with something called "AppFlow" which allows you to flip through your apps like they're album or video covers on your iPod/Phone/Mac. I thought this was a great idea, but she says AppFlow was rejected from the App Store. Meanwhile, I'm left with seven damn home pages thanks to there being no better way to organize your apps. Hell "Stacks" for OSX would be a perfect feature for the iPhone.

Another thing that bugs me about the home page(s) is the abundance of app icons many of us will never use. I don't own any stocks. I use wunderground.com's iPhone page for my weather. The Notes app on the iPhone doesn't sync with anything on your computer, so there's no point in ever using that app while the Evernote app is free. The iTunes app only includes music and I NEVER get my music from a source that includes DRM in its files, thus limiting the number of devices I can use the files on.

The point is, all of these apps can't be deleted. The icons can't even be hidden without jailbreaking your iPhone. This is another stupid, stupid thing about the iPhone and Steve Jobs.

The whooole problem here is that Steve Jobs wants the iPhone to run before it can walk. This is true with most Apple products, actually. But for me, here is the true irony of the iPhone:

I still love my iPhone.

For everything it does poorly, it does some things really well.

Some of those things are very minor, like how the thing feels in your hand. You look at it and you use it and you can't help but feel like you're living in the future. The way you flick your home pages by as you look for a specific app, is just so damn cool.

The structure of the app and the app store are both really great ideas, though the Apple Store vetting process is a joke and incredibly restrictive, and that killswitch thing is HORRIBLE--you want government to stop shoving big brother down our throats? Well, Steve Jobs just tricked us into inviting big brother into our pockets.

GPS and Google Maps. The two of these things work very well for me and I just moved to New York City. I don't know where anything is, but thanks to the GPS on my iPhone I can just do a quick search and watch the pins drop onto a Google Map of the area I'm in at the time. The GPS/Google Maps doesn't work perfectly all the time, but most of the time it works well enough for my needs.

So, there you have it. Why Steve Jobs is full of shit, the iPhone sucks and why I still love it.

Of course, the iPhone really should have the ability to:

1) shoot video (something my MotoSLVR could do)
2) skin your phone's user interface (something a lot of phones can do)
3) run apps (like, say, an IM client) in the background (like my Sidekick 3 could do)
4) tether (the inability to share your iPhone's net connection with a laptop is a direct result of Steve Jobs kissing AT&T's ass, I suspect. Funny how "unlimited data" is not really "unlimited" when they hobble the phone you choose to use)
5) hard disk mode (yes, I know it's got flash-based storage, but you know what I mean--the ability to store files drag-and-drop-style should come standard on this thing.)
6) resizing of the app icons in the docky-thing so more can fit (no reason this thing can't function similarly to a dock on OSX Macs.)

OK, I really think I've said enough about the iPhone for a good, long while.

Well, not quite: I have jailbroken my iPhone and hope to unlock it one day so I can go back to my contract-free days with T-Mobile. I can't stand having a contract over my head. What? Like Steve Jobs is the only control freak in the world?