Yesterday I got an iPhone.
Compared to my c.2008 AD Nokia 6210, it’s definitely weird.
But I know it won’t remain weird for long – I know that pretty soon it’s gonna feel all inevitably intuitive – so in recognition of this, I thought I might write down some utterly obvious points before they become somewhat less so.
1) It is about the same size and shape as one of those snack blocks of chocolate. (Like the purple Alpen ones, or a Kit Kat.) Or a pack of cigarettes. Co-incidence?
2) It’s a screen. It’s all screen. (Makes me think it’s kind of funny how phones have evolved – from the original rotary dialers which were all keys, to the hybrid-transitional brick phones with a little green screen above a chunky keypad, to this sleek glossy slice of a thing.) It’s quite inscrutable. Just black with just three features rucking the smoothness – a little pinprick lens, a slot of a speaker no thicker than a pencil lead, and this weird uber-button at the bottom with a rounded square on it. I don’t know what the square means. Except it’s the same square that features prominently in computer error messages. I think it’s a character in Wingdings font.
3) It’s not just a screen. It’s also a mirror. This is handy because you can fix your hair in it. It’s also immensely disconcerting. I wonder how many people you see playing with their iPhones are actually just checking themselves out.
4) The glossiness means you leave fingerprints on it. I’m resisting the urge to compulsively wipe the screen and can’t help but feel like I’ve already irrevocably sullied something that was pristine before I got my grubby hands on it.
5) And on that note, it comes with wallpaper (the wrong metaphor, surely) that appears to depict a fogged up, wet shower screen. Like some super small person has just washed their hair inside it. Is this intentional? The reference to cleanliness and domesticity? Baptism even? (Am I overinterpreting? Well… iPhone says Probably Yes.)
6) You don’t press it like you do with keypad phones. You’re kind of forced to stroke it. It’s less a piano than an, um, trombone. The movement is still totally thumb-based, but the RSI you’re likely to inflict on yourself is more likely to involve a tendon than a joint.
7) The text input is very, very tricky. It’s definitely meant for consuming content, not creating it. The default keyboard interface is tiny, and makes me very conscious of my thick fat fingers. And oddly, the key order is an adaptation of QWERTY, so it’s adopting that metaphor of a computer keyboard, which in turn is adopting a metaphor of a typewriter. Metaphors inside metaphors. It feels very illogical. (Is there a handwriting recognition app? Wouldn’t it be easier to just sketch out letters with your finger on the screen?)
8) It knows which way is up. I’m compelled to take it from my bag whenever I can and lay it flat, so it’ll be, like, more comfortable. Put it flat down on a table, and it kind of feels like a portal to another world. There’s a weird conjunction of dimensions in it. It’s like this deep, black well.
9) You can dress it up. I got more excited picking a red plastic case at Mobiles-R-Us downstairs than I did buying the actual phone in the Telstra store. And now I’m regretting not getting the glittery fluoro yellow number.
10) It’s not really a phone. Shit, this thing does everything. It makes me think of those enchanted objects in fantasy novels, talismans and magic rings, alethiometers. I’m scared of it. I think it’s smarter than me.
11) Hey, it’s definitely cooler than me.
12) Other people seem to be excited that I have bought it. I seem to be being inducted into something. Which is weird, cos as much as Apple has this whole aura of design-exclusivity, it’s about as edgy as, like, Shannon Noll.
I’ll add to this as things occur to me – but what have I missed?
I’d love some iSuggestions…