Sunday, November 28, 2010

Could I ever move to an iPhone?

Now that someone finally did what I've been saying someone should do for months, and made an iPhone case with a keyboard built in, the idea of getting an iPhone is suddenly feasible to me. Some people actually can work on those soft keyboards; and some convince themselves they can, and ignore the frustration. I'm neither of those. I have been using soft keyboards since the Palm Pilot II, and not one of them has been transparent as a means to enter ideas as fast as they come to me like even the cheesiest thumbboard is. Every one has been a source of frustration. So the release of this keyboard is a sea change for the iPhone and it's a wonder to me it took this long. (Part of that is Apple deciding not to support Bluetooth keyboards until the very latest model, though.)

If this had happened a month earlier, I wonder if I would still have gotten the phone I got. I'm happy with it, but I will probably have to move away from Windows Mobile eventually (especially since 6.5 is the last version; Windows Phone 7 is as different a system as the iPhone is, with as little backwards compatability, and a lot of problems). The moment when a phone needs replacing is an opportunity; this one will probably last a few years, and by then, who knows if that keyboard will even still be available?

Of course I couldn't've just switched over in no time. I have a number of things I expect my phone to be able to do, and I'd need to find substitutes for them all. The one program I use the most is ListPro, and I know there's a ListPro for the iPhone now, though I think it lags a bit in features. But I would also need something for my money management (that question deserves a whole other blog post, to come).

In addition, I don't know how good the Outlook synchronization is. Email is probably just fine. Contacts probably are good enough, though I don't know if it's two-way and supports all the fields as I use them. Calendar gets even more unsure, when you get into things like repeating multiday appointments, private appointments, free/busy/tentative/out-of-office, and meetings, all of which I use on my phone. Tasks is the one most likely to be either unsupported or inadequately supported; even Windows Mobile leaves out the crucial ability to see tasks in their correct order, and other platforms often omit support entirely. Many people don't use, or underutilize, Tasks, so they don't mind, but they're my bread and butter.

Can I safely assume a current iPhone supports A2DP Bluetooth stereo headphones with its MP3 playing, along with AVRCP? Probably, but I wouldn't, I'd check first. I use that every day.

It'd probably take a few hours to confirm that for all my needs, there really is an app for that, before I could decide to make the jump. Then of course I'd have to buy them all afresh, so that would have to be included in the cost. There's also the fact that I would be forced to download and install iTunes, which in turn means QuickTime. The thing about QT is once it's on your computer, if it causes any problems or conflicts (and every previous time I've installed it, there were; admittely I haven't in several years), you have no options to go back other than fully reformatting and reinstalling everything. You can never really remove QuickTime enough to get rid of the problems it brings. Still, I can probably get past that nowadays. Current Windows versions of QuickTime might finally have fixed the instability and conflicts that plagued it for so many, many years.

So what would be the point? Mostly the assurance that I would be able to tap into that insanely huge supported base and the wide availability of compatible accessories, relevant information, etc. I've seen iPhones enough to know that I wouldn't actually gain any functionality that would actually matter to me. But as long as I wouldn't lose any, it'd be nice to be on the inside for once.

The fear that that keyboard won't be available indefinitely makes me twitchy. What if by the time my current phone dies that's not on the market anymore and the opportunity has passed? Then again... keyboards don't last forever. If these keyboards fail and two years from now they're not on the market, I'll have dodged a bullet; I won't be married to a phone platform that is no longer available with a keyboard. So maybe it's for the best.

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