Monthly Archives: September 2014

iPhone Galaxy 6, Part II

I woke up this morning to discover #bendgate (or #bentgate, I’ve seen it both ways). In a nutshell it turns out that if you take a large, flat, thin object – for shiggles let’s say an iPhone 6+ – and make it out of something fairly soft – the thin aluminium iPhone case for example – it doesn’t take a huge amount of force to bend it. Said force could, in fact, be provided by simply putting the phone in your back pocket1 and sitting down. Sadly the internals of the phone and it’s screen are less malleable, meaning your bendy phone may stop working. The 6 is less affected thanks to its smaller size, but it’s not immune either. Great.

I’m pretty sure making the phone just a few mm thicker, using a thicker shell, fitting a slightly bigger battery and having the camera flush to the back would have made an all round better phone. But no, Apple had to make it thin.

That said, this happens every time Apple releases a phone; a couple of days later someone finds something fundamentally wrong with it and Apple are declared to have screwed the pooch. I suspect that, just like every other “fatal iPhone flaw” this will disappear quickly enough and be forgotten about after having bugger all effect on sales. That’s not to say the phone doesn’t have plenty wrong with it, but I don’t think it heralds the death of Apple, and I have no doubt that the phones will continue to sell in huge volumes.

The news comes, rather ironically, just as I decided I am going to persevere with my iPhone 6. My reasoning is that, given past release cycles, we can assume there will be a 6s which will be almost itentical to the 6 externally. Basically I’d be pinning my hopes on an iPhone 7 in two years time before moving from the 5s. I rather suspect the iPhone 5 form factor will either be killed off, or turned into the budget phone by then, leaving me with no options other than dealing with it or obsolescence. I’m not sure I can cope with obsolescence so I’ll just deal with it now. I still reserve the right to bitch constantly about it, poke fun at the ridiculous size of the 6+ and generally bemoan the travesty that is the iPhone 6.

So have we seen peak Apple? Is this the beginning of the end? Hopefully not. This isn’t the first time Apple have done this recently. OSX Lion took Macs in a dangerous direction that started ostracising pro users and generally making OSX much more like iOS. Another step in that direction would have had me going back to Snow Leopard until it became obsolete before finally switching to Linux. That would have been a sad day. Thankfully Mountian Lion and Mavericks addressed many of the issues Lion introduced and trend is a positive one again. I’m very excited about Yosemite.

My hope is that Apple will realise they’ve made some mistakes with the iPhone 6 and correct them. With some tweaks to the OS, and with App developers creating UIs for larger screens, hopefully we’ll also see usability increase. Until them I shall tolerate the phone and try and concentrate on the fact that is does have a nice screen.

Incidentally, unlike my last blog entry this wasn’t written on my iPhone. While I’m slowly coming to terms with typing on that I’m not a complete idiot.

1 A pocket you’ve probably chosen because the phone is so stupidly large it doesn’t fit anywhere else

Apple, I am very dissapoint…

A friend of mine once expressed surprise at a long email I’d sent from my iPhone 4. To him, typing that much on a phone was a long and arduous process. For me, the iPhone keyboard was well designed, easy to use and something I could write long documents with using a single thumb.

Even the iPhone 5, which I expressed concern about due to its larger size, only increased the height so typing wasn’t affected. It just meant reaching some rarely used (~1%?) parts of the screen required a stretch.

Sadly the iPhone 6 changes this. It’s both wider and taller than the iPhone 5 which means I can no longer reach the whole screen with a single thumb. This is a big thing for me.

If I position my hand so I can type [relatively] comfortably [and then only for short bursts] I can’t reach the top 2cm of the screen. This means I can’t post a tweet in Tweetbot, can’t send an email, can’t press “Done” in numerous apps without using two hands – or doing some kind of digital gymnastics with my hand to shuffle the phone about and risk dropping it.

Now I get that people want large phablet phones which they’ll use with two hands, but that’s not everyone. Some of us were happy with our 4″ screens that we could use one handed, not some halfway house that is neither a phablet, or a 1 handed phone. I don’t get why we weren’t given the option of regular and large, rather than large and stupidly large.

So I have three choices: fundamentally alter the way I use my phone; deal with the fact that using my phone is going to be much slower and cause thumb ache; or go back to my iPhone 5s. The third option is seriously tempting.

Having dumped North of £600 on a new gadget I want it to be perfect. I want the feeling of joy I got from my iPhone, my iPhone 3, my 4, 4s and 5s1. I don’t want some cheep looking, plasticky Android clone that’s a pain in the arse to use.

There are other issues too. Moving the top button to the side makes things awkward for a southpaw like me. Every time I go to put the phone to sleep I end up hitting the volume buttons too. Screenshots are awkward to do now, as is resetting the phone.

Design decisions like having the camera protrude are questionable. The phone doesn’t lay flat, something that’s exacerbated by the lack of dock. I think Apple would have been forgiven for making the back flush with the camera and having a bigger battery.

The styling on the back is not to my taste. Whatever material they’ve used for the lines top and bottom looks cheap and makes the metal look like painted plastic. I think it’s those, more than anything else, that detract from the “premium product” look an iPhone should have.

So what does this £600 fondleslab give me that my 5s doesn’t?

Well thumb and arm ache for starters – writing this much text is a serious chore2.

Faster CPU – except I don’t play games on my phone and, unlike my 3, the recent OS updates haven’t seemed to adversely affect my 5s.

Bigger screen – which is a nice screen, but I’m not sure it’s worth the price in terms of usability due to its larger size.

Better camera – meh, the one on the 5s was OK and nothing compares to my DSLR anyway.

Barometer – nothing uses it yet that I can see, although that’s one thing I was looking forward to having.

Apple Pay – I’m in the UK, we’re not getting that for a while and we already have NFC in our cards.

A lot of my Fandroid friends have been teasing me of late that Apple are playing catchup with Android. I disagreed; different users, different goals, different ideals. Apple don’t play catchup, nor do they lead the way: they look at what people are doing and forge a different path. What appears to have happened with the iPhone 6 is that Apple have forgotten this. They’ve played catchup with Android, and they’ve lost. Welcome to the iPhone Galaxy 6.

1 I didn’t get the 3s and the 5 due to not being able to afford them at the time

2 The main body of the text was written on the phone, but I gave up and edited it on my laptop

10 weeks in

So we’re now… 10 weeks1(?) since I started at Rainbird which, in theory, has given time for the shine to wear off and the mundane to kick off – except it hasn’t. There are a few very good reasons for this.

Almost every day is exciting

A bad day for me these days is orders of magnitude better than a good day in some of my previous roles. “Bad” days generally happen because I’ve not completed something I wanted to complete, or I’ve made a mistake; they’re going to happen, no matter how good the job is. I hold myself to incredibly high standards and not having a bad day now and then would mean I’m not pushing myself hard enough.

It’s not a job…

I’m not there for the pay. I’m there for the challenge and the chance to create something seriously cool. I do the hours I do (including weekends and evenings) not because I have to, but because I want to.

…for anyone

We’re not carrying anyone. Everyone is there because they want to be there. It’s not just a job for them either. If something needs doing, it gets done by the first person who is able to do it.

It’s open

There are no political games, no power plays or empire building. Everyone knows what’s going on, warts and all, and everyone gets their say. It’s not a democracy (and nor would I want it to be, I haven’t got the first clue about some aspects of running a startup), but it is a benevolent dictatorship2 and that works really well.

It benefits me

My hard work has a direct effect on my rewards. I’m not working hard to allow someone else to benefit, I’m working hard for our benefit which is a huge incentive. Every day I can see progress towards our common goal and, while there are setbacks, there is an overarching feeling of moving forward.

Work, for me, is still something I am finding hugely fun, and massively rewarding.

1 I think that’s right, but it seems an awfully long time. That said, time does bizarre things at Rainbird and the days do seem to be flying by. Time flies when you’re having fun 🙂

2 Someone has to call the shots, and doing that by majority rule isn’t always the best way, especially when you’re dealing with areas of specialist knowledge where only one person may have the necessary experience