Thoughts and tips on iPhone3G@SG

The Phone

Everybody needs an Apple device, at least eventually. Since the first release of an iPod many years back when I was still in US, I’ve thought that a mobile device by Apple would be nice to have, but a plain MP3 player just wouldn’t cut it for me – it has to be a COMPUTER. Then came the iPhone, which again was delayed worldwide until recently.

So here I was, stuck on Sunny Green island, and joined the rest of the people to purportedly “study the hype marketing of the incumbent telco” by queuing for 3-hours on launch day (22 Aug 3pm to 6pm) for the renowned device-of-less-features, and being exhorted large sums of money in Comcentre. Like a stereotypical good wife in my hometown, it doesn’t need to do everything, as long as it does what it does really well and you’re happy it being the last thing you see before you sleep everyday and the first thing you see every morning. As it transitioned to be both my bed time e-mail clearing kiosk and my morning alarm clock (ooo… Marimbas on whole tone scales! I can wake up to that!) I’ve learned to deal with the idiosyncrasies, or some would rather say, the iconoclastic features that’s supposed to change the way I “live, work and play” (where did I hear that before).

It does have its quirks – most new owners I know experience excruciating pain importing contacts from their old phone. For me it was close to zero (using the Import Contacts from SIM function), and had to exercise my muscles in manipulating text files and csv (and to get it wrong: 6596746082 will become (659) 674-6082, it has to be +6596746082 to become (+65) 9674-6082). After struggling with First Name Last Name problem, I gave up trying to work with Outlook (that’s after a total mess made by Lotus Notes, don’t mention) and just sync whatever is default into Outlook and into iTunes / iPhone. ASIANS DON’T HAVE MIDDLE NAME YOU ST*PID AMERICAN COMPANY PROGRAMMERS (whom yourself might come from Asia!).

The other problem in Singapore is ironically the boon of having the free Wireless@SG. The phone is automatically set to connect to the fastest network available, i.e. Wi-Fi, if not 3G, if not GPRS (no EDGE here). Now Wireless@SG routers would happily accept the handshake, convincing the phone that it now has the best network, but would then serve only the login page to every HTTP request, confusing the hell out of the various native applications not on Safari. I will need to explicitly turn off Wi-Fi every day coming to work (i.e. town, big huge Wireless@SG mesh) and turn on again when reach home (for the comfort of finally watching YouTube lying on the couch). What nonsense.

Then there’s the huge lock down that I’m now starting to appreciate the huge uproar about. The fact that I can’t develop applications for the phone unless I get a Mac (i.e. no Windows IDE / emulation stack), that I can’t put my applications up on iTunes unless I pay a ransom of $99 and some cut, that I ‘m not so sure I can afford more hours learning all about jail-breaking the phone and learning how to finally make her mine is kinda frustrating, making me feel like a sucker sometimes when doing this research, but then the feeling will vaporize when I’m on the train reading those mailing lists on social justice that I haven’t been catching up with lately. Guess I’ll just write webapps and be happy (i.jiinjoo.com coming soon…)

It feels pretty good going on to “Airplane mode” every night as a I go into the Esplanade Theater pit for Turandot so that my leg doesn’t turn hot and mutate (reception for everything is bared in the hall). Battery capacity is a bit of a pity for now (maybe I use it too much), reception was decent for calls / sms. The phone sometimes goes into a data-blackhole where it refuses to connect to any data network, and one has to go airplane mode and back to force a re-connect or turn the phone off and on. In one week it has only hung once, that’s after downloading all the kosher/halal free apps available on the iTunes Store (I got a “receipt” for that, with a grand total of $0!!) and launching every single one (it seems like there’s an architectural thing with Mac OS where memory is not cleared or something? need to study the framework better). Tap-tap-tatatatatatatatatp hang.

What is also interesting is how I see any other non-technically-savvy friends I have handling the device more gracefully than me, speaking to the true design prowess of Apple (it’s for the laymen stupid IFTLS… ok fine no such term). It’s impossible for me to evaluate its success on the UI front – since to me it’s actually still a challenge, especially on the keyboard front (not every native app can be rotated horizontally for the big version of keyboard like in Safari).

Back to reading the 152 page user guide… sigh… Anyone wants to buy my Nokia 6280? 3 power chargers (car with small head, wall big head with big to mall head extension and wall small head) and 2 ear pieces included. Collect @ 434 AMK Ave 10.

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4 Responses

  1. Hm. Tbonist! lol. I’m Jiaxin’s junior and she linked you.

    I was in HK in July and somehow the free wireless access is much more stable and way faster than Singapore.

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