Tag Archives: iPhone 3G

Hands on with TomTom iPhone Australia

Yesterday I bought an early Father’s Day present to myself – TomTom on the iPhone!

Splashscreen

It brings voice navigation GPS to the iPhone – making the iPhone replace yet another device! Yep, family members – you don’t need to buy me a dedicated GPS for Christmas/Birthday/etc anymore 🙂 And I don’t need to hire one from car rental companies anywhere in Australia either now.

So, what’s it like?

Standard Functionality

Firstly I was worried that having an iPhone 3G (and not the 3GS with the digital compass) will mean its accuracy will not be as good. However, it seemed to pick up the direction I was facing very well, except once when I was stopped at a corner and the mapped kind of rotated around and then back to my original orientation a few times.

The voice turn by turn navigation works just like any other GPS. I loved playing around with the different languages and accents – I think I might switch to French to improve on my fluency. Unfortunately, you don’t get spoken street names. But having voice navigation is a huge step up from using Google Maps on the iPhone. I don’t see myself using Google Maps for driving navigation anymore.

The touch navigation of menus works with no problems and the display is very clear.

Menu screen

There is some rudimentary lane information, but I don’t think it’s advanced as some dedicated GPS units. For example, it did tell me to stay on the left lane when on the Graham Farmer freeway this morning so I could take the next exit.

Getting off the freeway

The routing also seemed to find one of my “secret” shortcuts to get to the kids’ school this morning. It didn’t know about another one I use to bypass a traffic light, but when I took it, it re-routed very quickly.

Found my shortcut

I can also vouch that the red light camera functionality works. My iPhone beeped at me when I was approaching one. I don’t see the need to have Trapster on my phone anymore!

Nice iPhone touches

I like how they’ve incorporate the iPhone’s multi-touch pinch zooming when you choose to navigate to a point on the map.

I also like being able to play music from my iPhone at the same time. My music continued to play, and then was faded out to silence whenever TomTom needed to speak a direction.

Controlling iPod

A few tips:

  • Start up your music in the iPod before starting the TomTom Maps application. Your music will continue to play in the background.
  • If you want to change tracks, then you can double click the home button for the mini-navigation. But if you click iPod, you will switch to the iPod application and then have to relaunch the TomTom Maps application again.

(Un)fortunately I haven’t had anyone ring me whilst I was driving, but I’ve read that your call takes priority and the navigation will continue once your call has ended.

They’ve also linked up the TomTom application with your iPhone contacts, so you can “navigate to” the address of any of your contacts. Nice 🙂   But it would be even nicer to link up the “navigate to” with the camera on the iPhone so that I can click on the photo of where I want to go.

Lastly, the TomTom application recognises the orientation of your iPhone, so you can use it in horizontal or vertical mode.

 Horizontal

 

Summary

I’ve only used it for a day, but already I’m yearning for the official TomTom iPhone cradle. I think I’ll have a look around eBay today to see if I can get a cheap one, but so far I’ve been using cup holders in my car to hold it. Knowing how quickly the GPS drains the iPhone battery, a cradle with a dock that powers the iPhone seems necessary.

The only other thing I’m missing (but this is really an iPhone limitation) is background applications support – the ability to switch between multiple running applications. But in the end, it takes about 9 seconds for me the application to start and show where I am.

In my opinion, the price is pretty reasonable. Unlike Google Maps which requires a data connection to download the maps around you to the iPhone, with TomTom all the maps are stored on your phone. This should mean it will work where there is no mobile reception at all (like country driving). 

I just like having all my functionality in one device. I can now check Facebook, Twitter, my emails, have my personal and work calendars at my finger tips, as well as an iPod, a web browser (and 3G connection for my laptop), handheld games and now a voice GPS – all in my pocket.

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iPhone 3G impressions

I’ve just recently bought an iPhone 3G with Optus. My old contract was up, and I just couldn’t resist it! I must say, it’s an amazing little device. Sure, it’s a phone, but it’s now so much more. Apple have designed a really slick, easy to use device that does so much.

Setting it all up

The packaging – small and simple and not too wasteful. But where’s the user manual?  (I later found that there’s a link to it in the iPhone itself – only good once you have your iPhone working!)

Confusion – OK, I have my SIM card and I have the phone. What next? I had to go to my laptop to Google to find out where the SIM card slot was, and then went to YouTube to figure out how to open/remove it. Not finding the SIM Removal Tool didn’t help either. I guess I should’ve unpacked it carefully instead of asking my 7yo to take it all out for me and then play with the box afterwards. I used a sewing needle and paperclip and eventually got it out.  Afterwards I searched the packaging properly and found the SIM Removal Tool. AarrghhH!!

So I put my SIM in and it says I can only make emergency calls. Huh? I figure maybe the SIM isn’t unlocked yet. I ring Optus and proceed to test its voice recognition system (that’s right – you have to talk to a computer first before you’re allowed to talk to an Indian call center operator). But the General Support lines are only open during working hours. I find some other helpline and get connected to a Call Center and the polite lady tries to help me – but she has problems unlocking the SIM card. She suggests I go back to the shop the next working day.

She informs me that the iPhone also needs to be unlocked and I should try that first by connecting it to my laptop with iTunes. I silently wonder how people without a laptop would unlock their iPhone. Hmmm… Anyway, I connect it up and woohoo! The iPhone suddenly works and is connected to the Optus mobile network.  Optus – as a suggestion, maybe you need to supply a “quick help” guide for the first steps users need to take after going home with the iPhone?

Features

Stimulus overload – OK, now that it’s working, it was fun fun fun, getting used to the interface. The kids are going “oooh!” and my wife is jealous.

I like the idea of the single Menu button, as it makes it really easy to get back from any stage. I found this quite frustrating on other phones. However, I can’t seem to figure out how to go “Back” in some applications. It seems that the UI for this is not uniform across the device and various applications.

I definitely like the touch and multitouch. But I’ve since realised that there is no “joystick” type control, so it may be hard to translate/play some arcade type games on the iPhone. I like the pinching. It would be good if there was more use of gestures. For exmaple, in the iPod UI, put a virtual clickwheel on the screen if the user starts moving in a circular motion.

The virtual touch keyboard is a bit small and cramped. I found myself hitting the wrong key many times, but I’m getting used to viewing the magnified letter for verification now. It’s hard when there is no tactile feedback on what key you’re touching, but I like the QWERTY style keyboard instead of the T9 one.

I like the various connectivity options – 3G or Wifi. I connected it to my home Wifi network and proceeded to use that for the rest of the night. I’m now wondering if I need 250MB on the mobile account at all if most of my big downloads will be at home on wifi?

But what were Apple thinking with the camera? I mean, no zoom? 2 megapixel? No video?

Fortunately, I now have a 16 Gig iPod, which I just love because I don’t actually have an iPod yet, and music is a huge part of my hobbies. Unfortunately this now means I’m trying to download album covers for all my mp3s!

Applications

The iPhone App Store is great! I downloaded a stack of free applications and games and some paid ones too. It’s all too easy.

It’s so cool having Google Maps on the phone integrated with the iPhone’s GPS, taking full advantage of Google Map’s directions. If only Apple or someone developed turn by turn voice directions too, then it would be complete. No more car GPS required.

Other apps? Facebook – Check. WordPress – Check. Lightsaber – Check. Apple iTunes Remote – Check.

I like the virtual Piano and Guitar.  Now, if only there is a tuner and metronome, that’d be sweet (maybe there is one?  I haven’t searched yet).

I then remembered about the Optus Zoo. And I couldn’t figure out how to get there! I did some Googling and found a URL. But I then found a URL link in the Safari browser on the iPhone itself. I guess I was expecting it to be part of the Home menu system. But now that I’ve found it, I’m not sure how much I’ll use it since the whole internet is at my fingertips now.

Mobile Sites

I’ve now started looking for URLs that work well on the iPhone. Some sites work well on a smaller screen, but there are some still missing that would be so useful for me.

Here is my current set:

Googlehttp://www.google.com
Australian White Pageshttp://www.whitepages.com.au/?textOnly=true
Brittanicahttp://i.eb.com – Why would I need this unless I wanted to cheat at a quiz night?
Wikipediahttp://mobile.wikipedia.com – Why would I need this unless I wanted to cheat at a quiz night?

Here are some applications or mobile suited URLs that are missing:

Australian White Pages – So I’ll never have to call directory assistance on the road again.
Australian Yellow Pages – So I’ll never have to call directory assistance on the road again.
Bankwest Online Banking – So I don’t have to use an antiquated voice menu + button based system to transfer funds on the road!

Cancelling my old contract

Yes I was with 3 before… and since I didn’t port my number over, I had to call 3 to cancel my old number. The funniest thing was that the “oh crap – a customer is leaving us” alarm bell must’ve rung, and so the first operator mentioned that 3 had iPhone plans (which I knew about and researched already), and then proceeded to put me on hold for about 5 minutes in queue until I could be put through to a Priority Customer Care person, who continued to tell me about their iPhone plan too (http://www.three.com.au/iphone).

Firstly, if I was so precious a customer that I would need to be put through to a Priority Customer Care person, why would you make me wait ~5 minutes?   Secondly, I know I’d get $300 credit if I went with 3 – yes 1GB is nice, but the handset is costing me $13 per month x 24 months = $312 from Optus = heavily subsidised.  If I purchased it outright, it would be $849 (handset) + $80 (unlock) – $300 credit from 3 = $629 = not good enough a deal.   Of course, this is assuming I won’t go over my cap or bandwidth in either plan. But with the Wifi capability at home, I don’t see myself needing that much bandwidth on the road.    At first I thought the guy said that 3 would pay for my iPhone outright!  But when I asked him to repeat what he said, it must’ve been me who misheard.  Boy, would that be nice 🙂

More links

Best iPhone plans according to News.com.au – http://www.news.com.au/technology/story/0,25642,23994346-5016091,00.html
Best iPhone plans according to CNet – http://m.cnet.com.au/mobilephones/339290315.htm

Optus – http://www.optus.com.au/iphone/