Adventure & Drama: Installing the New iPhone 3.0 Software

Just in case, I waited until the end of the week to install the new software on my iPhone 3G (no S).  Luckily, the process took a long time but it was pretty uneventful and I didn’t have to throw my iPhone against the wall or anything like that.  On the other hand, I’ve been putting it through its paces this morning and by now I am not as impressed or excited about this new release as I was on Fri when I started the installation.

iPhone 3G

The title promised you adventure and drama, so here it is in the form of an installation log,

7:10 PM. I decided to keep things simple and avoid using the USB hub that I normally connect my laptop to.  Instead, I rebooted my machine with only the iPhone and an external hard disk connected directly to my laptop.

7:16 PM. Killed all applications other than iTunes.

7:20 PM. Started downloading the 230MB 3.0 update.

7:36 PM. My machine overheated and shut down.  OK, I have to explain…

My laptop is old enough (Dell Inspiron 5100) that it needs an external fan to keep it cool and running. Normally, the laptop sits on a stand with a built-in fan that’s powered via a USB connector off the USB hub.  But since I disconnected the hub…

I should have known that something was amiss because the laptop’s fan was getting louder and louder.  The poor, decrepit thing was screaming for help because it could not keep up.  Even though I didn’t notice, my laptop did  notice the lack of airflow and after a few minutes it just shut itself off.

7:50 PM. After a quick bathroom break, I reconnected the USB hub, made sure the fan was working this time and restarted the download.  I half expected iTunes to notice the incomplete download, which it has done before, but it didn’t.  It restarted from scratch.

7:58 PM. The download is done and now it started to back up the iPhone.  I am using about 10GB out of 16GB, so this is going to take a while.

8:12 PM. Not even half way through the backup, yet.  The question now is, will the battery last?

Remember that this time the iPhone is connected to a USB hub which is connected to the laptop.  This setup has been less than reliable and sometimes the iPhone gets a charge from the hub and sometimes not.  Today is not getting a charge, so I am nervously watching the backup progress back and the battery charge gauge.

9:11 PM.  The backup is finished.  Now, it is “preparing the iPhone for software update.”  I am hearing more than several device on/off beeps from my laptop telling me “I don’t see the iPhone,” “Oh, wait, now I do,” “Oh, no, now I don’t again…”

9:13 PM. Updating iPhone software.  Going glacially slow.

9:14 PM.  Just noticed that the iPhone display changed to the Apple logo and a progress bar.  However, the iPhone progress bar does not match the rate of progress of the progress bar on the laptop.  They must be measuring different things.

The laptop progress bar is moving faster now.

9:19 PM. Updating iPhone firmware.

9:21 PM.  According to my laptop, “Your iPhone has been updated and it’s restarting…”

The iPhone display shows the Apple logo, but no progress bar…

Now there’s a progress bar on the iPhone and more device on/off beeps from the laptop.

Evidently, the laptop now sees the iPhone as normal because a pop is asking what to do with the iPhone camera (“Open it with one these devices…”).  Press Cancel, as always.

The iPhone even shows up in iTunes now, even though it is still rebooting.  What gives?

In any case, I noticed that the iTunes tabs are active so I started looking around.  The first I noticed is a new checkbox in the first tab, “Encrypt iPhone backup” following by an input field, presumably for a password.  The Music tab also has a new checkbox, “Include voice memos.”

Alright, I now have Version 3.0, build 7A341 installed on the phone (and nothing has melted, yet).

9:30 PM.  A progress bar appeared on the iPhone display now.  But, very quickly after that, the display goes completely black.

9:31 PM. Whoa!  The “normal” display is back, with my wallpaper and the batter gauge (still showing some green).

Oops, now the screen is off again.

Try pushing the big, roung, tempting button… but nothing, no response.  Poke it one more time… and still nothing.

9:33 PM. Now, it’s back (and I have a new voicemail my wife left me while the phone was in lalaland). We’re back in business folks!

My calendar seems to be all sync’d up.  My contacts are still syncing (but that’s to be expected, given that I have over 4,100 contacts).

9:40 PM. Got some water and now I noticed that although the iPhone is listed in iTunes, it doesn’t have a pull down arrow next to it.  I opened and closed the PLAYLISTS pull down out of frustration and now the iPhone shows the arrow.  Bug?

10:15 PM.  After looking around some more, I decided to leave good enough alone.  So, I shut down my laptop and read instead.  The only other thing I checked on my iPhone was the cut-and-paste feature.  Nice!  (Welcome to 1982, Apple!)

The Morning After

Today, Saturday, I’ve been trying different things out and most seem to work as advertised.  But there have been some disappointments, too.

iPod

I was very happy to discover, all on my own, that the iPod now lets you scrub the music “head.”  In other words, you can grab the white round button on the progress bar and move it back and forth a few seconds at a time (the old behavior) or in much finer increments.  You change the scrubbing by sliding your finger down while holding the progress bar button.  Cool.

There’s also a 30 second rewind button under the progress bar.  Very cool.

Cut-and-Paste et al

Cut-and-paste, of course, was the big thing for me.  Works great.

In Safari, you can hold down a URL and a pop up will come up to give you the option of opening in a different page or copy it (to paste on a Twitter client or an email, for example).

Addendum

Maybe it’s been there all along, but I just noticed that in the Calendar app, when you’re looking at an Event, it shows the list of Invitees and whether or not they’ve responded and if they have, whether or not they accepted the invite.  Pretty nice.

Little Disappointments

Tethering and MMS don’t work in the US thanks to AT&T.  These are “little” disappointments only because I had very low expectations given that these features depended on AT&T doing something right.

As @mollydotcom said earlier today,

@mollydotcom
avatar@azlee I believe any derivation of the words “function” and the brand “AT&T” are no longer grammatically allowed to be in the same sentence.

‘Nough said.

Search, the Big Disappointments (Sob)

My biggest disappointment has been the search feature.  You still cannot find contacts by looking up their number or email or anything else other than their Name and Company.  That is so lame, so lame.

Another search bug has to do with mail.  Whenever I search for just about anything, I find lots and lots of hits in EMAILS THAT HAVE LONG BEEN DELETED.  I even removed and recreated the email accounts, hoping that would solve the problem but it didn’t.  It did forget the very old, long removed emails but it immediately started to accumulate pointers to new emails even after I removed them.  This makes the search feature for email barely useful.  In fact, as I started receiving (and removing emails) the list will become so long as to become useless.

I looked around and did not find any way to flush its index manually (other than removing the accounts).  If you do know of a workaround for this, please (PLEASE) let me know.

Conclusions

I still think that iPhone kicks ass and Apple, in general, is leading the industry forward.  For now.

Not that long ago I stayed away from any company whose business plan depended on making money on mobile phones.  The reason was simple: as opposed to the Internet, mobile phones operate on private networks and the network operators showed no interest in doing anything other than squeeze every penny out of its users (just the other “industry” that has “users”).

Now, we are happily working with companies that are either creating iPhone clients for their existing products or new apps, native to the iPhone.

What’s made the difference is Apple.  They created such a force around the iPhone that they’ve been able to break the mold and force AT&T to “think different” (or, at least, behave a little differently).  This is good for AT&T and even better for the mobile industry, but they don’t seem to have figured it out, yet.

And One More Thing

As I said above, I think that Apple is leading the industry forward, for now.  But don’t disregard Android.  We’re not.  Even though we don’t yet have a client paying us to do it, we’re building our own Android applications to gain experience and build a reusable platform.

There’s more than an even chance that history will repeat itself.  Like the Mac and the PC, Android could very well overtake the iPhone in sheer volume in the near future.  Other manufacturers are not going to sit on the sidelines and let Apple take it all.  A bunch of them will jump into the fray with crazy ass ideas, laughable designs and clunky user experience.  At first.  But eventually a few will stick.  And they will always have the cost advantage and will appeal to many more users based solely on that.

It’s hard to tell at this point if Apple has learned anything from history.  Will they stay competitive?  will they create lower cost, entry level devices?  or will they stick to their “you have to buy on our terms because we’re cool and they’re not” approach?

More importantly, will Apple license their software to other vendors, say, HP or even Dell?  Like Apple, these are big companies now and they would not undercut Apple by much (they need big margins, too).  In exchange, Apple could create an sphere of influence that would keep them in the lead for many, many years. These companies, together, could easily fend off any onslaught of newcomers.

And, more importantly, they could keep Microsoft from ever getting a foothold in this space.

As I said, time will tell if Apple has learned anything from history or if it’s doomed to repeat it.

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