Monday, August 11, 2008

Apple and the Myth of Working Beautifully: Part III

My battle with my iPhone is settling into a series of guerilla skirmishes. A little fire-fighting here and there. I still have the syncing of contacts from either outlook (which I'd prefer not to have to use) or gmail (which itunes insists I don't know my password to) to tackle, for example.

But I thought I'd update you on the issues I had on the day I first used my iPhone in anger. On Friday I headed for London for a day of meetings - in several locations.

I travel by train. On my Nokia N73 I am able to check gmail and use twitter (via slandr) facebook, linkedin etc as pretty effective mobile versions. And these work all the way down the line between Huntingdon and London (barring the tunnels, of course).

But all the way down on Friday with my iPhone I got no signal. Safari said it couldn't reach anything - so no internet.

Arriving in London I wandered through King's Cross station and picked up the Cloud automatically - big thumbs up apple/O2. That worked a treat.

But as soon as I was away from wifi I got no 3G. No internet. Importantly for me; no googlemaps.

I ended up asking a copper for directions when I arrived at Waterloo station on course for a meet at the Young Vic. Haven't done that for a long time! Thanks iPhone.

I texted twitter for help (in the hope I'd find some wifi later to pick up the answers). Text and calls were working. So why no internet even at 2G (or 2.5G) speed?

Among the responses I got from fellow iPhone sufferers were:

"richjm @davidcushman If you get normal signal, chances are it's not the 2.0.1 update. 3G coverage is sketchy. Good around the City, Livp st though"

Chris_Reed @davidcushman is your network setting right? Might be just set to O2 not O2 3g? general>network>enable 3g on. Sorry if it's granny ...

otoburb @davidcushman settings->network->wifi. Disable it and then 3G should lock on. Make sure 3G is enabled somewhere under General->netw

And there was outpourings of sympathy/fun-poking too, of course.

Bear in mind that the people I tweet with are a fairly early-adopter technically adept bunch (certainly compared with the general population). Apple should have a little wobble at this. No one was able to solve my issue (Apple seems focused on enablijng self-help networks rather than centre-out customer services, so it relies on my fellow geek).

I stumbled on it myself, through frustrated experimentation ( I can't call it play, it wasn't any fun). If you can't get the internet on your iPhone try this:
Reset the network settings. To do this, choose Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings.

And finally the beast came to life.

I popped into a Starbucks on Saturday morning to check the O2 claim about free wifi there. I could fine none. No surprise really as it's a T-mobile hotspot. Happy to be corrected though so if you know how I can get free wifi at Starbucks on my iPhone, post away!

I wandered into the my local O2 store to fill them in on my experience. Lots of sympathy but I was also told in almost these words: Apple doesn't want us to get involved in customer service. They want us to sell you the box.

Staff aren't even allowed to open the iPhone boxes - so they weren't even aware about the secrets of inserting the sim card.

One final criticism of the iPhone for today: I can't text with my thumb on it - which means I can't text and walk. That's a hardcore (read killer app) mobile phone function.

I'm getting used to the touchscreen typepad and starting to like it and what it can do... but it's not a joyful journey.

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?