Thoughts on S60

reflections on the most popular mobile operating system worldwide

iPhone in the car? Keep it in the glove box…

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During my brief amount of time spent with the iPhone, one of the first things I noticed (and one of the more important reasons I decided to sell it) is how poorly it performed as a one-handed device. While not being impossible, this has come to be very important to me due to the way I use my devices in my car. After struggling unnecessarily to make and receieve phone calls, use it as my source of music, and some other miscellaneous functions I had become accustomed to on most of my Nokias, I reached a conclusion: you have NO BUSINESS doing anything with it in a vehicle. Click through to read why.

1.Texting? Don’t even think about it.

No only is it dangerous to you, but it’s also dangerous to those around you and the iPhone most of all. Say what you will, but I’ve been able to text safely with one hand while keeping my eyes on the road using phones with a simple 9-key keypad for years. It didn’t take me more than one text message received and one attempt at sending to realize just how different the experience is when that phone is an iPhone. The virtual keyboard requires much more attention due to the lack of tactile feedback and navigating between the various conversations in the SMS app requires a few extra clicks and seconds that really shouldn’t be taken away from the primary task at hand.

2. A Bluetooth headset barely helps.

Many states have adopted new laws that forbid the use of cell phones without a wired or wireless headset of some sort while operating a vehicle. Luckily, one of the few Bluetooth profiles the iPhone does support happens to be the headset profile, but there is a catch; you can not make outgoing calls with your voice. The iPhone does not natively support voice dialing on the device itself or through a Bluetooth headset, once again requiring you to tap through a couple variations of menus to find the person you want to call. I suggest taking the calls that come in, but postpone the dialing until you’re in an environment appropriate to do so unless you’d like to shell out some cash for a separate Bluetooth car unit that will handle to voice functionality itself. There is also a voice dialing app that is available from Makayama for $14.95 in the App Store, though I haven’t tested how it works with a Bluetooth headset at all.

3. GPS, but no navigation.

Regardless of which platform you use Google Maps, there’s a very large disclaimer that appears when you open it for the first time; “Do not operate while driving”. Having used GoogleMaps for several years now even before the iPhone was announced, I completely agree. Trying to use it on a normal handset with buttons you can feel was a distraction as it is, but having to focus a majority of my attention just to type in an address correctly is just too much. On top of that, Google Maps doesn’t provide any voice navigation to accompany the turn by turn directions it provides, requiring you to continuously glance at your phone to make sure you didn’t miss your turn and need to manually recalculate your Kudos to Apple for adding GPS to the 3G iPhone, but Google Maps is not a substitute for a true navigation system (though TomTom might be a suitable alternative when it’s released).

4. MP3 playback is brilliant.

One of the things I DO condone (and prefer) is the use of the iPhone as your music source while driving. Whether you’re using it with a 3.5mm auxiliary connection (with adapter for original iPhone users) or an aftermarket, iPod-ready radio, the iPhone can actually be useful in the glove box. Coverflow makes it much easier to identify the music you want to listen to without requiring much attention or effort other than swiping your finger and identifying the image of the album. Though I find it relatively easy to use the mutimedia buttons on the N95 to perform the same task, using it on the iPhone is a much better solution.

On a different note, having used my E71 for a little more than a week now, I’m seeing a lot of the same difficulties with it as I saw with the iPhone when trying to use it in a vehicle. Thus, causing me to use my cell phone less and less when I get behind a wheel. I’ve learned a couple things from both experiences, but it looks like the biggest thing I’ll be taking away from it is that I need a phone with T9 to function properly.

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Written by Jonathan

August 14, 2008 at 11:19 pm

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