Critical Development

Language design, framework development, UI design, robotics and more.

iPhone 3G: Amazing Stupidity in an Awesome Product

Posted by Dan Vanderboom on August 19, 2008

I just picked up my iPhone 3G yesterday.  After a couple years of suffering with Windows Mobile phones (and four years developing software for them), I decided that I’d had enough pain for one lifetime.  I want a device that does what I need it to do, and does it well, and I refuse to pull out a stylus or peck at impossibly small desktop-like drop-down menus any more.  Yes, I know that HTC has some amazing new touch-friendly interfaces (the Diamond, for example), but for one, I can’t wait any more; and two, it’s likely to be some kind of GUI polish stuck on top of the same ugly technology stack that’s always been there.  What happens when you want to install third party applications?  Are they going to magically fall into the same touch-friendly UI patterns?  Is HTC going to provide a controls library to support transparency, slick animations, and similar visual candy for developers of third-party applications?  I think not.  Windows Mobile is a dead end.

My first impressions of the iPhone?  It’s beautiful.  It’s elegant.  Google maps and navigation are brilliant.  Visual voice mail is a dream.  Skimming quickly through large lists of data is a breeze.  I love it.  Almost everything about it.

There’s one problem, and it irritates me… even infuriates me.  I’m referring to the lack of support for A2DP (stereo Bluetooth).  Aside from a bug in v1.1.1 of the firmware that inadvertently allowed music to stream to Bluetooth headsets, this feature—though possible to support in software—has been crippled.  After searching online last night for a few hours, I couldn’t find any statements from Apple or confirmed reasons elsewhere, but I speculate it has something to do with protecting music by not allowing it to be broadcast to other devices.

If this is the reason (and I’m not saying it is), it’s incredibly stupid.  It won’t stop people from using A2DP.  However, it will force people to spend lots of money ($60-70) for a bulky adapter to plug into the iPhone (in addition to $100 or more for the headset), or to hack the device to enable the feature.  I’ll be looking for option B, as I run a great deal and don’t want anything to increase the size to make the thing stick out of a pocket, or risk having it fall.

Apple has had a lot of time to support stereo Bluetooth, plenty of time to figure out the technical details.  They just don’t seem interested in giving in to their customers and users on this issue, regardless of the public outcry and obvious demand.  That’s amazing stupidity for an otherwise awesome product.  And that’s why we hack their devices.

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