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Why iPhone is a gigantic piece of crap

April 5, 2013

Yes, this post will be a rant.  Sorry.

It’s become clear that no one at Apple actually bothers to test the iPhone with realistic scenarios, nor are they in the least bit interested in developing a platform in which solutions can be built on top of.  Their opinion that every app needs to live in its own little world, isolated completely from the operating system or other applications, has basically ruined any chance they have at maintaining their market share.  I’m not in the least bit surprised that Android is up 13% in the last year, and iOS is down 7%.

The final straw for me is their complete and utter lack of any sort of turn-by-turn driving directions that actually work.  I don’t mean an app that does this, I mean providing, as a phone, a solution that will get you to the place you want to go – a solution that integrates in with the phone as a whole.

I first bought the iPhone 4S the day it came out.  I had never before owned an iPhone, and was excited about what it could do.  After all, it was the best selling smart phone ever, and pioneered the whole application platform thing, right?  First, to my surprise, it came with absolutely no GPS software at all.  I was forced to spend $60 bucks or so on the TomTom app, which, by itself worked great.  However, the built in map software was the Apple version, with no turn-by-turn guidance.  Since iOS is a completely closed platform, TomTom cannot say “Hey, I should be the default maps app so load me whenever you need to get somewhere!”  This would have been nice.  A real platform would have exactly this.

Instead, if you click on an address in an email, or on a location on a Facebook event, it would load the crap Apple Maps app which forced you to click “next” every time you completed a turn.  You couldn’t even copy and paste, since the TomTom app made you type in a street, then number, then city then state.  It could not parse a pasted whole address.  I would usually have to write down the address on a PostIt note, then re-type it in to the TomTom app.  What a complete joke.

Along comes the new Apple Maps!  Yay!  Enter all sorts of media buzz here.

This version of Maps finally had turn-by-turn directions.  Despite what you read in the news, in general it works fairly well.  I won’t blame Apple for not immediately having the flawless data it took Google years to build.  So, now we have a fairly good maps app that will launch by default from other apps and links.

Of course, this brings me to my next major gripe about the iPhone.  You can’t charge the phone at the same time you use GPS.  No, seriously, you can’t.  You don’t believe me, but it’s true.

My last car, a Jetta TDI, had a little iPhone connector built in to the center armrest to charge iPhones and iPods.  You could also use it to listen to music on the car stereo.  However, when you plug it in, the phone’s built-in speaker is automatically muted.  So, if you’re using GPS, don’t expect to actually hear anything while your phone is being charged.  And, of course, if you don’t charge your phone, you’ll have about an hour of battery life while the GPS is running.  This appears to be a behavior of the phone that applies to every app, as neither TomTom, Google Maps, or Apple Maps will make a sound while it’s charging.  Even if you turn the stereo to “Aux In”, though you’ll be able to hear music on the phone, you won’t get any GPS turn-by-turn directions.

Recently, I got a new car – a 2013 Subaru Outback.  This car doesn’t have an iPhone connector, but it does have Bluetooth.  The dealer even helped me pair my iPhone to the car, so I could talk on the phone while driving.  However, if you have Bluetooth turned on, you won’t hear a peep out of the phone while using GPS; even if you have it turned to Aux-Input.  I’ve given up and decided to keep Bluetooth off, since I use GPS so often in my car.  I’ve tried looking at my phone while driving, but I miss turns every time.  Plus, it’s dangerous.

This blinding limitation irritated me to no end while in San Francisco last month.  I rented a Chevy Cruze, which had a USB connector for a phone.  I was staying with friends and family, most over an hour from the conference, which forced me to drive all over the bay area.  As I’m not familiar with the bay area, I was using GPS the entire time.  And, like all other cars, I of course cannot charge the phone and hear the GPS at the same time.  This caused me to show up to the conference with a phone with about a 50% charge, which usually didn’t even last the day.  By dinner time it was totally dead, and I had no choice but to charge it on long stretches of freeway, then unplug it when I got near the restaurant.

Luckily, I was meeting up with a friend who works at Apple.  He claimed there was a solution for this, and you can configure the audio output when using Bluetooth.

Turns out, on Apple Maps, when the phone is paired you’ll see a little “Bluetooth” logo on the bottom right corner of the map.  If you press it, you can select if the audio will be sent over Bluetooth or to the phone’s built in speaker.  This works okay in theory, however, get this – this is an app feature, not a system setting!  That’s right, this same setting does not exist on Google Maps or on TomTom.  Since Apple insists that every app needs to be an island, they expect every app to implement this “Do you want to hear your phone?” feature themselves.  To make this even more ridiculous, this feature only applies to Bluebooth pairing.  If I want to plug the phone in to a USB connection, which would allow me to charge the phone, there’s of course no setting for that.

Now I’m pretty much forced to use Apple Maps because it’s the only program that seems to be written correctly.  So, the other day I was headed to an event.  I had the event details stored as a Facebook event.  I went to the Facebook app, clicked the event, and clicked on the directions.  The Facebook app now actually opens the Google Maps website!  That’s right, the web site – not even the app.  I guess Facebook got so annoyed with this, they decided to bypass the API completely and just launch the browser.  The website asks if I want to use my current location, which I said yes.  It also has a button that says “Always Open in the Google Maps App”.  First, this always button seems to mean always for that exact URL, meaning the location I happen to be headed to right then.  Second, when it loads the Google Maps app, it only remembers the destination.  I have to then type in my current location, at which point it just prints out the entire list of directions; no turn-by-turn.  If I exit the app, go back in, then I can see that destination in my history, select it, and use turn-by-turn.  None of this is slightly usable while you’re driving, so I have to get this all setup while I’m still parked.  This is a hassle if I just want to use GPS for the last few minutes of the drive, and don’t want GPS yapping at me for the first 30 minutes.  Lately, I’ve just gone back to writing down the address on a PostIt note, opening up Google Maps, and typing it in by hand.  That’s been the only thing that consistently works on this platform.

The fact that absolutely nothing in the iOS world works together, apps cannot play off each other to deliver real solutions for realistic scenarios, Apple doesn’t allow an app to be a “default app” for web browsing, mapping, making calls, texting, etc, means that iOS will never deliver anything more powerful than its most powerful single app.

My next phone will be an Android.

 

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From → Technical

7 Comments
  1. I’d say that it partly depends on your definition of “realistic scenario”. I don’t own a car. I get around by bus, bicycle, and feet. For people who live in the city and don’t drive regularly (or at all) the crappiness of Apple Maps and its GPS is less of an issue. More on this: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/03/why-dont-young-americans-buy-cars/255001

    My iPhone plays GPS turn-by-turn directions over the speakers while simultaneously charging when I’m in other people’s cars. However, that’s with an aux in cable vs. bluetooth. It plays over the car speakers just fine, though, and turns down the volume on the music so that you can hear the directions more easily. It’s charging via something like http://www.amazon.com/Universal-Apple-iPod-USB-Charger/dp/B000JLG5ZY.

    I don’t have any problem hearing the GPS just through the phone’s normal speaker when I’m driving. It’s pretty loud. But I also use http://boombotix.com sometimes.

    You can type the first few letters of a contact’s name (e.g. “Matt”) or the name of a location (assuming it’s a public location) vs. writing down / remembering an address.

    There are some security & privacy advantages to locking apps down that way. http://www.engadget.com/2013/04/04/dea-says-it-cant-intercept-imessage-chats

    Anyway, I’m pretty sure the consensus among everyone is that Apple Maps sucks. ;)

    • Yea, all I can say is both cars I tried (The 2010 Jetta TDI and the rented 2013 Chevy Cruze) did not play GPS audio while plugged in via USB. Maybe higher end cars have this feature, and can mix different audio inputs with the car’s audio. This leads me to believe it’s up to the receiver what audio channels get played and how they’re mixed together. For example, I’m aware that some third party Bluetooth receivers that plug in to the cigarette lighter will play the GPS audio. My point, though, is that the phone itself does not allow this to be configured, at least not at the system level.

  2. Mitch permalink

    Apple is garbage all around. Everything they do is idiocy, right down to the convenience features like having a “buy all” button for songs in your iTunes wish list. Used to have it, now it’s gone. I could rant on, but I’m moving back to Linux, and waiting for the Ubuntu phones.

  3. Paul permalink

    I have never been able to bluetooth to an iphone from my galaxy s2 or recent samsung phone! i found out apple in there wisdom uses only about 20% of bluetooth capability! Dosent matter i can share my music videos movies and music files with every other bluetooth device out there, as long as its not an apple device! i guess an apple owner is the looooser in the long run. They dont want you to have anything for free. I just gave my friend 500 mp3 songs downloaded and sent them straight to there phone! try doing this on an iphone!

    • Mark permalink

      Stealing songs you mean? Yeah, how selfish of Apple not to consider easy music theft. Unless you created those 500 tracks yourself?

      • Paul permalink

        Stealing your an idiot, i just paid for those songs on android, with android if i buy i own them clown!!!!! Your iphone made by apple says you can buy them but dont share them or own them, I have bought vinyl cds tapes and have shared everything for years mp3 is no different, its my song to do with what i want. THE POINT is you Cant do this on ios they want to own the industry! good luck with your icrap!!!!!!

  4. Dave Glover permalink

    I have an iPhone 5. I have experience of earlier Android phones. The spell checker on the iPhone is better but that’s about it. And I understand the later Android spellchecker iterations are much better. The iPhone has no FM radio, Mistake. Some of us do step out of our wifi itunes cocoon from time to time. I have had an FM radio on my phone for years until… The text messaging facility has numerous stupidities built in to it. The annotation of date/time is inadequate.. When writing a new text in a thread, you cannot drop back in to the thread to check what had gone before, When writing a new text in reply to an incoming text you cannot add a new recipient, but must copy and paste into a new text. And the send button is buried in among the others so sometimes you accidentally send before you intend. And there is no easy security lock of the android type – describing a sequence of strokes on a matrix of numbers. And I haven’t started on the idiot Siri being locked to the imbecile Bing!

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