July 16, 2007

The iPhone Says My Thumbs Are Too Fat

Saturday morning, we finally swung by the Apple Store at Valley Fair in San Jose for the first time "Post iPhone" to take a look at Apple's new device that has the tech world aflutter. While very thin and chock full of features, the iPhone's virtual on-screen keyboard rejected about half my keystrokes in a quick trial run, making me more comfortable in my decision to stick with the Blackberry, at least for now.

I've used a Blackberry for the better part of five years, through three product generations, and while the keyboard has changed quite a bit over time, it still follows an easy to use format, with the standard QWERTY layout, and tactile response. When i started fiddling with the iPhone, to try and test its e-mail capability, half the letters would end up one away from their intended mark, making the words so badly jumbled that not even the included auto-correct dictionary had a clue as to where to start.

If I would try to type, "Hi there from the iPhone", it was more likely to read "Ho yheer gtom rhe iohome." Making it worse, every time I would delete a mistype, my next keystroke would put the same error right back. It got me thinking one of two things was occurring. Either I was slipping into lazy eye double vision which had my hands not coordinating well with my eyes, or my thumbs were too fat. It had me longing for the simplicity of the stylus on my old Handspring Visor, or the keyboard from the Blackberry line of mobile handhelds. If I did walk away with an iPhone (and I didn't), there's no question there would be some significant practice necessary before I could become as proficient as on the Blackberry.

That's not to say the experience with the iPhone was all bad. The camera was drop-dead simple to use. Squeezing and stretching photos on the screen or scrolling through the faux address book was a breeze, especially after having seen Apple's numerous demo videos. Playing videos from YouTube was quick and crystal-clear. I didn't mess around with Safari, but have no doubts that too was solid. And the iPhone is extremely thin, moreso than I had expected when it was first announced.

If I was looking for a Hallelujah moment that pushed me over the edge from interested observer to proud owner on Saturday, it didn't come. If cost and phone service quality were not an issue, I'd love to have one, but both are, and for now, we're still going to be cheering on the iPhone from the sidelines, and looking into ways for our fat fingers to cut back on the carbs.

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