Perhaps the App Store’s key offering is an impressive end-user experience. If you have no interest in jailbreak, or indeed have no idea what it is, then you probably don’t know what you’re missing and think the App Store is wonderful. And let’s face it, that’s probably the vast majority of Apple’s customers.
By the same token, if you’re not aware of Microsoft Exchange, you don’t care about Exchange support on the iPhone. But for a large number of corporate users this is important. There are a few issues with calendaring when syncing with Exchange, which will prevent adoption by power users and anyone who’s enjoyed the excellent integration offered by Windows Mobile, but if you need to sync your contacts and email on the road using an iPhone, it’s a great solution.
For those that don’t have Exchange, there’s MobileMe. Apple itself deemed it “Exchange, for the rest of us” and once they actually get it working it’ll be quite good. For now, it’s still occasionally broken and slow. What’s more, it politely tells you to get stuffed if you try to log in with IE7, which is certain to alienate a lot of Windows users. What MobileMe does offer is slick integration, push email, a very pretty interface, and some useful functionality, for your annual subscription.
However, once Google get their act together and introduce Push Email for the iPhone, it’ll be difficult to recommend MobileMe over Google’s suite of products. Look out for a future article on that subject too.
On top of all that, the 2.0 firmware offers a number of little tweaks and touches – the ability to consistently tap the “title bar” at the top of the phone to scroll to the top is nice, as is the addition of a stand alone contacts icon (rather than going into phone every time you want to look a number up) and mail’s ability to allow you to move or delete multiple items more easily.
The downside of 2.0 is that it seems to be a lot less stable. I’ve noticed Safari crashing for no apparent reason, and the SMS and Contacts apps run impossibly slowly at times, until you quit them and go back in. For original iPhone users, it’s possible to downgrade back to 1.1.4 of the software (although it’s not recommended). But for iPhone 3g users, there’s no way back. Let’s hope Apple produce a more stable revision soon.
Moving on from the software features of the 2.0 upgrade to the iPhone 3g‘s hardware and things get slightly more interesting.