to end my gadget buying spree before the credit card company takes notice, i also got an iphone; not only because i had been completely brainwashed into an iphone-longing zombie by the media giving away all this free advertisement to apple, but also because i wanted to get rid of the surreal interface nightmare of my motorola phone for a really long time. and of course, the iphone is pretty nice. but how can you seriously outfit a music player with an outlet that does not allow the majority of earphones to be used? thanks again, steve, you manage to turn even the simplest things into closed worlds, so now we have to get an ugly and easy-to-lose $10 contraption to use something else than the crappy apple earphones.
but: the rest is really nice. of course, there is a lot of room for improvement in many areas (most importantly allowing the keyboard to rotate, which right now is way too narrow in the upright screen orientation), but it certainly makes using a phone easier and using web stuff such as maps easier than before.
one thing i noticed was pretty interesting: apple decided to have a custom app for mapping, instead of just relying on google maps on the web. this of course allows some neat features (and of course tons of animations), but it also demonstrates how this approach can easily backfire: google just recently released this very useful feature of being able to insert new waypoints by simply dragging the computed route to somewhere. the apple mapping app of course is totally unaware of that feature and thus gives you the google maps of yesterday. by embracing the web app, apple (or rather apple's clients) would have had a free upgrade to a new and useful feature, but now we have to wait until apple decides to implement this feature in their app and give is to us.
even more interestingly: if you try to use maps.google.com in the browser, it kind of works (but not very good, because the interface is not very supportive for this kind of interaction), but as soon as you try to use navigation, the iphone decides that what you really want to do should be done with the built-in app, and silently switches over to that. thank you, but that is not what i wanted! as a result, not only does the iphone not give you the google maps functionality, it also blocks you from using it. well, it probably has not yet been approved by steve...
now, after playing with the iphone for an evening, i spent some time with my new irex iliad (this i* mania is really getting annoying). oh dear. for $700, you essentially get something that has the looks and charm of a prototype. it is probably unfair to look at a product after playing around with something as hyper-polished as the iphone, but even without that, the irex looks bad. these guys are in very serious need of some interface designers.
now, apart from that very rural charm of the device's hardware and software, it looks promising. the display is way better than the sony; it is possible to read normal-sized pdfs, in particular when first cropping the margins (best done on the pc). i am still having trouble to understand their model of this delivery service and how people are supposed to use this device at all, and i think they are also in serious need of a business model. but the hardware looks really promising and has lots of potential, and i am very much looking forward to playing around with it in the following weeks.