Hi, I'm Nick. This is my blog. I'm a life-long unschooler living in New York. You can find more about me here.

I help run the Recurse Center (YC'S10).

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iPhone first impressions

June 30, 2007

Yesterday afternoon I took off from work early to go stand in line for four hours to get my grubby little hands on an iPhone, a device I've been waiting for in one form or another for nearly eight years.

Because I can't stand to stay away from it for too long, this post will be in the form of an off-the-top-of-my-head list of thoughts about this beautiful -- beautiful -- device:

Waiting in line and then purchasing two 8GB iPhones (one for me, one for my sister) at the Fifth Ave. Apple Store was perhaps the most pleasant and exciting buying experience of my life. I say experience because the entire thing felt like a spectacle: dozens of companies showed up to jump on the bandwagon and advertise their wares. I got a free fan, buttons, a keychain, slick info packets about everything from recycling your old phone to social networks trying to tie themselves to the iPhone, bottled water and lemonade.

While standing in line I watched a near pornographic campaign video for Giuliani be shot 15 feet in front of me. My guess is that if you google "Rudy girl" within the next couple weeks you'll see what I'm talking about. Also, listen for man in the background yelling "vote Ron Paul." That's me.

I was interviewed three times. Once by a young woman doing competitive market research for LG (she's going to call in a few weeks to see how I like my iPhone). Once by a Yahoo! Tech blogger (who said her press contacts put the number of iPhones at the Fifth Ave. store at 2,000). And once by a Fox News (barf) woman from the Geraldo show. They grabbed me right after I emerged from the store to the cheers and high-fives of dozens of Apple employees (they cheered everyone -- not just me :D -- but I suspect they may have sensed my enthusiasm).

Everyone in line was awesome. I lucked out and ended up next to a true Apple diehard and we reminisced about the days of the Apple II.

I was terrified walking home with two iPhones in tow and a beautiful Apple iPhone bag that screamed "mug me!" I stopped by the vendors at Columbus Circle and they were kind enough to give me some less inviting plastic bags to cover my loot up with.

I cannot explain how giddy I was and still am, though I imagine my roommates who saw my face when I walked in the door have a decent idea. My full experience was delayed a bit when the iTunes activation got stuck trying to talk to Apple's servers (which I believe were trying to talk to AT&T's, which according to the forums I read last night were hammered in the activation process.) I went to bed last night around 2:30 with a non-activated iPhone.

I naturally arose shortly after 6am this morning and immediately hopped out of bed and had my phone activated inside of a minute. Aside from the hiccups last night, it was a glorious activation process with no annoying salesperson in sight.

This phone is stunningly, achingly, painfully gorgeous. It is the single best designed piece of consumer electronics I have ever owned. This puts the all three Playstations, all iPods, Tivo, the Wii, the PSP, the DS and all the others to shame. Undoubtedly, the iPhone lives up to the hype.

The EDGE network is not nearly as bad as I expected it to be. Word is that the speed was bumped to 270 kbps in major metropolitan areas yesterday right before the launch. The wifi access I hawk from my neighbors is painfully slow sometimes, so right now my fastest net connection in my apartment is on my phone. Weird.

I browsed my favorite blogs, posted on a Facebook wall, checked Gmail. Everything just worked (though I was only able to view Google Docs -- no dice with editing them).

There are a million little touches that make you smile. If you get an e-mail with a link to a YouTube video, clicking on it doesn't open YouTube.com in Safari but instead starts streaming the video in the built-in YouTube player. Deleting e-mail messages is done through a "swipe" gesture that feels like "crossing out" the message. Visual Voicemail rocks. Text messages pop up while you're on the phone in a delightfully friendly and helpful manner.

Battery life. I've been running this pretty hard (browsing the web, e-mail, long phone calls, listening to music, watching videos) for the last 4+ hours and it still shows over half the battery remaining.

My ringer is set to "Old Phone," which sounds exactly as you would want it to. It's a pleasant, tasteful, traditional phone ring.

The keyboard, which I was more than a little nervous about, is I think ultimately going to be a non-issue. The first five minutes were frustrating. The next ten were a little better. After an hour, it started to feel decent. My prediction? Within a week I won't even think about it.

One revelation I hadn't really thought about before -- and which I still have yet to truly internalize -- is that I now have Wikipedia in my pocket. Take a moment to think about that. I suspect this is one of those things that seems cool at first but can't be fully understood until the ramifications begin to manifest themselves. And it's not just Wikipedia, I've got the entire web -- the REAL web, not some "junior" version -- in my pocket. I have near-instant access to the largest store of human knowledge ever compiled.