Tuesday, April 24, 2012

iPhone Adventures

I finally moved my wife Suzi out of the phone stone ages.  She was sporting a Samsung Intensity II phone for the last 2 years.  Her primary complaint over smart phones was that she literally HATED touchscreens.  I tried many times to get her to play around with my Android phone but she never could quite the hang of it.  I knew that when it came time to update her phone that we would be going with the iPhone.

The iPhone is approachable by just about anyone.  I would venture to guess that if you put an iPhone and an Android side by side and turned them on to their respective ready modes that the majority of people would gravitate towards the Apple product.  Why?  I do not know.  What I do know, and this is from experience, the Android platform can be quite frustrating.  Yes, you can spend some time setting it up to look like the iPhone and act like an iPhone but in the end, it is not an iPhone.  The platform is getting better but I believe it is for more of a power user.

Even the iPhone takes some getting used to.  Understanding what all the applications are for and getting around the user interface are not entirely intuitive but they can be quickly learned.  My largest stumbling blocks with setting things up for her came in two flavors.

1.  Getting her Email to properly sync across her pc based outlook and phone
2.  Understanding Home Sharing so we could share purchased apps

Email turned out to be a pretty large hassle and took several hours to rectify.  Suffice to say that using the IMAP protocol over POP3 is the way to go.  With Suzi only ever checking email on her PC Based Outlook client I had originally set her up to use POP3.  There were PST files stored locally on her hard drive so when she checked email the messages were downloaded off the server but not deleted.  Outlook was smart enough to know if a message was already stored locally so it was never an issue.  Setting up email on the iphone though meant that in her case, her inbox was flooded with over 800 messages while her local inbox had exactly 9! 

In order to change her over to IMAP I had to create a new mailbox on her outlook client then manually move the messages over from the POP3 account to the IMAP account that she wanted to keep.  This was very time consuming as she's been using the same email address for years.  Basically everything has to be uploaded to the server.  Since I recently switched over Gmail as my email provider for schoonsplace.com it was good that they provide 8 GB of storage for email, this was not something I had thought of before leaving Host Monster for email services as they were virtually unlimited for space.  I had some availability issues with them though so I switched over to Gmail.

Once I got everything switched over the mail has the proper behavior now.  Messages will be visible in both inboxes but if you delete from one it is deleted from the other.  Essentially the clients are reading everything off the server so it just works.  About the only downsides I see are speed and space.  The actual send/receive process does take longer and as I mentioned above I now have the 8GB limit.  It's not a huge deal though as the send/receive is maybe 1 second longer and she's only using 1/8th of the limit so I suspect we'll be fine.  I can always help her to copy large emails over to the local PST files on her laptop if she wants to keep them or just get her into the habit of downloading attachment emails and then deleting them.

Home sharing was another animal altogether.  I must admit that I should have done my homework on this one upfront because I think I made a couple of rookie mistakes.  One was that I used the same email address on her iPhone that I use for our iPad 2.  This is not necessary as with home sharing as long as you are on the WiFI network you have access to the other email address's library.  The only thing you lose is the ability to actually install apps from the phone itself that were purchased using the other library's login.  It was a bit confusing at first but in the end it all seems to work well.  The other issue I ran into was when the PC that I use for itunes synching blanks the monitor (doesn't go to sleep just shuts off the monitor) for some reason the home sharing stops working.  I can still see the library but I can't actually transfer any content.  Not sure if this is the way it was intended or a bug.

I will also mention that we just went with an iPhone 4.  I know the 5 is coming soon and the S has Siri but really, for a person going to their first smart phone the iPhone 4 is plenty of power.  If she becomes a power user then we can look at upgrading her in the next cycle with Verizon.  By then I can only imagine the phones that will be available.

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