Wednesday, June 9, 2010

iPhone 4, any competition out there?

There's lots of buzz about how the various phones and carriers match up to Apple's new iPhone 4. The real issue is perhaps something other than the number of pixels, screen size, battery life, weight, or even carrier and coverage, I think they're missing something fundamental which is where I get stuck on the decision. Usability. Products are about ease of use, especially a multi-function live-with-it sort of device like a smart phone. On the phone itself Apple has shown a lot of polish in the software (we well as some silly mistakes, late deliveries etc) that is still lacking, even on the latest droid based phones like the HTC Incredible.

But, when it comes to a smart phone, it also comes down to getting your content on and off the phone and surprisingly the reviews are all skipping this topic . Email, calendar and contacts are a place to look to start (and even there I worry for non-iPhones). But what about music, movies, pictures, audiobooks, e-books? How well does the phone connect with your desktop and take care of all this for you? As far as I can tell without iTunes this is all a huge mess regardless of what phone you have. And Apple has effectively blocked non-iPhones from connecting to iTunes. 

Specifically for the hot HTC phones their documentation says this:

"HTC Sync is not compatible with Macintosh computers. While you will be unable to use HTC Sync to synchronize your PIM information, you can transfer files such as music, movies, photos, etc. to your DROID ERIS by HTC by mounting the device as a disk drive."

So I have to manually manage my multi-media? What about remembering playback positions in audiobooks? Rating changes on my music? Automatic syncing of unwatched movies/shows? We're supposed to give that all up?

Can anyone really stand up and say that life without iTunes is easy and things just work, and then describe how? Then try doing that for an OSX-based desktop environment. I'm sure there are techno-geek ways to solve the challenges, but for someone who wants it to just work, is there a way? So far my research says no.

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