Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Why I Hate the iPhone

Why do I hate the iPhone when it is clearly a nifty gadget and I am otherwise completely devoted to Apple/Mac products?

I hate the iPhone for irrational reasons related to the number of times I get emails like these:

F, I know you want me to send you the text and you should have it in your hands soonish but I'm stuck sending things from my iphone.

F, I am emailing from my iphone and so there’s some new stuff I can't get to you yet.

I would have emailed you earlier. Turns out I'm actually emailing you now from my iPhone. Anyway, I'll try to prioritize getting those files in your hands. Hope you get this.

I was planning on emailing when I had more for you and I am sending this from my iphone and it might not go through. Sorry.

F, i got your email on my phone last night and I tried emailing you but I think it failed from low reception so sorry if this is a repeat email. I will try to send it later.

I can relate to having wifi access issues. There are some times/places where internet access is not ideal. Even so, for me, the iPhone has become irrevocably associated with excuses. For me, the sentence "I'm sending this from my iPhone" does not instill a sense of awe and techno-envy but instead I get a sinking feeling that I'm not going to see a certain draft or a certain figure for a while yet to come.

Please send me inspirational stories of how an iPhone changed your life for the better, got you released from prison, helped you do something you wouldn't otherwise have been able to do, and/or allowed your cat to dial 911 and save your life. I need these stories because right now, I hate the iPhone and I need help working through my iPhone issues.


nathaniel said...

I had a grant application go all to hell at the last minute while I was Christmas shopping on the last working day before the break. Because I had my iphone with me, I was able to find out about this, download a bunch of budget guidelines and phone numbers, and sort it out before it was too late, all at the mall. Have had some similar experiences with travel plans and airline tickets.

You'd think that someone who likes to work on vacation would appreciate what a game changer it is to be able to get pretty reasonable email and web on the go all the time!

Matt said...

In my opinion, the problem is that your correspondents love their new iPhones so much that they whip off e-mails for the sake of using their iPhone, whether or not the e-mails actually have content. They need to (re)learn that they should reply only when they can actually communicate something of value.

Charles Sutton said...

I have a really great story along these lines, but I'm writing this comment on my...

Anonymous said...

At a conference in NH last month a checked myself and my pals in on a transatlantic flight while drinking a last beer with colleagues. While on holiday, I can receive news of papers rejected by certain journals instantly.

John Vidale said...

Your iPhone excuses are news to me.

We mostly annoy those around us by spamming their in-boxes and web pages with too much email with all flavors of plots, photos, and links.

Me and my iPhone addicted friends would rather go back to a rotary land line than admit there is anything we can't do with our latest gadgets, much less use them as a lame excuse.

Ψ*Ψ said...

My undergrad advisor is completely iPhone-dependent, and he is also an email junkie. Therefore, he is almost immediately reachable to any of his students, unless he is flying or unconscious.

ScienceWoman said...

I'm a recent iPhone convert, and last week I was able to approve a student's timesheet while I was in the field. Literally, I sent the necessary email from my iPhone while standing in the middle of a forest and collecting data. If I hadn't gotten that email sent, my student would have gone yet another month without being paid.

Not life changing for me, but certainly helpful for my student.

Anonymous said...

The one reason an iphone is essential to any scientist-mother - you can breastfeed while checking your emails and catching up on blogs. I couldn't live without mine.

Cheesey Chemist said...

Yesterday afternoon, I sustained a modest laceration requiring stitches while in the lab. I was driven to our campus urgent care center and due to HR issues was sent to an occupational health center across town. I used my iPhone to navigate my lab mate to the new facility. Additionally, I was able to email a map of the location to DH so that he could pick me up after he got off work while my labmate was able to go back to the lab and get back to work. I know it's not the best, but it kept me from receiving that nasty look in the exam room from making a call, but allowed me to expedite communication so that I could leave as soon as I was stitched up.

I also use my iPhone during seminars to look up drugs that are mentioned, but not drawn out.

Anonymous said...

I have a few applications on my iPhone that have been enormously helpful. The map application that comes with the phone can show traffic for my area and has helped me figure out the best path home numerous times. It actually seems to be more accurate than listening for traffic reports on the radio when the traffic is bad.

The weather application can show the radar in action, which has helped me determine how long to stay at a store while shopping.

Finally, the internet application allows me to check on my dog when we're out of town, as the kennel has a webcam. Maybe I should have listed this one first, as it has been really special to me. It's so nice to be able to check on my dog while on the go and see she's doing well.

I realize that I could do without all of these things, but I enjoy having them.

AmericanInOxbridge said...

I've been at a workshop at a Very Important University for the last few days. I was the keynote speaker and was housed in the VIU's guest accommodations. Where the wireless did not work at all. iPhone was critical. I used to have a blackberry for this purpose but it was not always as reliable; I held out getting the iPhone even though I'm a Mac person because I didn't want to be one of THOSE people. But... Proofs coming in with a 48 hour turnaround = good reason to have a facility to stay connected. Ability to read pdf proofs on your phone when there is no internet access in a foreign country? Priceless.

Odyssey said...

When I got my iphone one of the first things I did was replace the standard "Sent from my iPhone" signature with one that is identical to the one I have on my laptop for email. I also make it a point to not state that I'm sending an email from my iphone. There are two reasons for all this. One is that I don't want people to think I am constantly available. The second is only poseurs brag about their iphones via email.

Anonymous said...

I have never had a problem sending emails from my iphone so I think the people that are sending you these messages are just making excuses! I find that I am actually more in touch with my advisor because the iphone allows me to have email access wherever I am rather than only when I am by my computer.

DFig said...

I do not have an iPhone b/c personally I hate AT&T service and can't afford an unlocked iPhone, but here is my positive story:

Last year in a seminar on translational research for the freshmen seminar, I watched as a professor used his iPhone to put together a COMPLETE presentation. Like other TT assistant professors he is busy with research and teaching (not to mention the new baby at home) and simply forgot he had volunteered to give a portion of this seminar. He arrived and "graciously offered" to let the other presenters go ahead of him, then he sat very calmly for 15min on his iPhone pulling together images of his work and past slides from his lab's online server. I was amazed...

He actually had the best presentation and got a compliment from the dept chair....as I snickered in the corner.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm.... here's a possibility. Anyone who tells you "I'm sending this from my iPhone" is more interested in publicising their gadget ownership than communicating usefully with you.

I use my iPhone a lot when I don't have my laptop with me, but would never dream of sending such pointless (and irritating) emails to a recipient. And if I'm without my laptop for an extended period, I set up a vacation reply on my email because the iPhone won't be suitable for responding to every email request I'm sent (such as paper drafts). A vacation reply might leave someone waiting a few days, but at least they know when to expect a proper response.

In short, iPhones aren't meant to be replacements for laptops - editing documents on a miniature touchscreen keyboard is for emergencies only - so it's really only useful for forwarding emails and sending text-only replies. If your email excusers have been working on drafts of papers or figures, they obviously have a proper computer with them, so why don't they use a proper email program?

Love the device, hate the poor social skills?

Tinkering Theorist said...

One professor I may collaborate with during my postdoc has often replied to my emails in just a minute or two (with the "sent from my iphone" signature line). This is very encouraging because if I went with that postdoc opportunity, I would want/need to collaborate closely with him even though distance would prevent me from visiting in person more than a few times a year.

Jessamyn said...

I've been writing a paper with my advisor recently, and she told me that Professor So-and-so had told her he could look over papers quickly if she needed it. So I sent our draft to this professor, who e-mailed me back detailed and insightful comments about 8 hours later (in the evening). It was a big help and very fast turnaround, and at the end of his e-mail he said something like, "sorry to not give direct textual references in my comments, but I read your paper on my iphone and I can't have both the paper and my e-mail open at the same time (I'm on vacation right now)".

I feel a little sorry for anyone on vacation with him, but very happy for my paper.

Anonymous said...

The iPhone got us from downtown Seattle to an impound lot after a friend's car was towed. It knew which bus to take, where to find the bus, when the bus would be coming, and where to get off the bus. All I had to do was enter the address of the impound lot, and the iPhone did the rest.

another junior FSP said...

I don't have an iPhone, but I really want one.

At one of my conference sites this summer, I ended up for a week without email access due to difficulties getting my laptop connected to the network. The iPhone users figured out how to make it work for them, and had contact with their labs.

At the other conference I attended this summer, no one had phone access - except for the iPhone users, who could use the wireless to turn their iPhones into Skype phones. This would have been very very useful in talking to my program officer, who needed to speak with me that week. We did as much as possible by email, but ended up pushing back finalizing some things until I got back from the conference, and thus losing a week. And gaining a lot of stress.

Plus, I want the GPS function so next time I get lost driving to said conference site, I know what to do right away instead of losing another hour trying to figure out where the heck I am. And the calendar so I can set appointments while I am away from my office instead of asking people to email me details to check later.

People who are going to make excuses are always going to make excuses. But if you are a person who doesn't make excuses, the iPhone is a useful tool to get things done more easily.

Plus, it looks cool.

Ms.PhD said...

You are so funny.

I hated those messages too. Don't they seem needlessly arrogant? ...Until I found out they are the default. The iPhone Mail program automatically attaches "Sent from my iPhone" to the end of each message, until you disable that feature. Most iPhone users do not know how to disable it!

Having said that, the example messages you wrote would drive me nuts, too. There are ways to send attachments, etc. even from an iPhone. I think your problem is with the iPhone users, not the iPhone itself.

Personally, I really value them. I have traveled with an iPhone user and it definitely saved our lives to have the iTunes in the car (music = no arguing or falling asleep at the wheel); map feature = not getting lost; not to mention finding food (yelp app), shelter (can't google from my regular phone!) and gas (did you know there's a "nearest gas station" app?). Very handy, these things.

yolio said...

I have been on the fence about getting one. I really want the gadgets and toys aspect, but am concerned that I don't really need to spend any more time on the internet than I already do. Don't bet me wrong, I love the internet. For example:


Maybe I'll just the ipod version, skip the pricey data plan.

Anonymous said...

I own an HTC Cruise. It has the same features (except the accelerometer --- but other HTC have it too) of an iPhone, without its limitations.

Good wifi antenna, GPS with a *real* navigator software. You can install Android if you do not feel comfortable with Windows Mobile (that it is not so bad). Micro-SD slot.

No serious businessman uses an iPhone. Many are HTC- or Blackberry- fans.

Female Science Professor said...

OK, the 'no serious businessman uses an iPhone' convinces me I should get one.

Cheesey Chemist said...

Congrats on your choice to go for the iPhone! ;)

Also, I was very hesitant at getting any sort of smartphone for a while. My boss is an avid crackberry user and it never leaves his holster or hand. It disturbed me greatly that if I sent an email in the middle of the night, it could generate an immediate response, or worse, a phone call. But then I remembered my PI is a workaholic and rationed that I would not turn in to him.

Now I have an iPhone and love it. I also changed my signature to match his, "Sent from my wireless handheld device", thus "excusing" why my message might be short without any commercial pretense. I obtained said iPhone prior to going on a vacation and sent a couple of messages to labmates. They thought I'd just added the signature to my regular email to passive-aggressively poke at the boss-man's behavior.

I am okay with the generic "wireless device" signature, but I absolutely hate the "Sent from my iPhone", "Sent from my Verizon Wireless Blackberry". Nothing like being a pretentious tool or an ignorant free advertisement pawn.

"Brought to you by Carl's Jr."

mixlamalice said...

Why I hate the iPhone:

Because so many people seem nowadays unable to live one hour without internet, without thinking about their job or just simply without telling their usually boring private life loudly in the bus, in the metro or in every (what should be) public place.

For example, when you are in a romantic restaurant worth 200$/person on a saturday evening and you see a guy spending half his time on the phone while eating fantastic food without even paying attention and his wife waiting for him to hang up, this is so pathetic... It is even more pathetic when it appears that half the customers in the restaurant behave like this. I am also really annoyed when I see half the audience during a seminar or a conference who is ostensibly texting or sending emails on their blackberry/ephone. I find it really rude, even more than falling asleep (that I can understand if you ate or drank to much before).

I am kind of an internet addict myself and I am sometimes sad about it because I spent a lot of my free times surfing whereas there are so many more interesting things to do in life (it also seems to affect my ability to concentrate), but at least I am not a iPhone addict (nor Blackberry nor cell phone), which means when I am not at home or at work I can at least live my life with my wife and my friends instead of just living through a 2 inches screen.
I guess it makes some people think they are important.


(sorry the last one is in French but really hilarious for those who understand).

mommy scientist said...

love mine, hate my husband's.

JLK said...

In the spirit of the other commenters:

I was once scuba diving off the great barrier reef, but my boat left me behind and forgot about me. When I came to the surface, a great white shark was circling around me and I started to panic. Luckily, my iPhone has a dolphin call app, so I sent out a distress signal and was saved by a pod of dolphins that happened to be in the area. Then I used the GPS combined with the dolphin call app to ride the dolphin back to safety after looking up how to properly ride a dolphin on the internet using my iPhone. My iPhone saved my life.

And now, what I was originally going to say:

You shoulda sent back "I accidentally erased all of the files on your system and the IT people said there's no way to get it back. Oh, and I'm sending this from my Blackberry, so I hope you get it."

anon said...

I always put my iPhone in my shirt breast pocket, and I haven't been using it that often lately. However, last week when I was walking through a bad part of town, I got mugged and when the three guys who mugged me were walking away, one of them said they should shoot me so that I don't tell the cops. To cut a long story short, the doctor told me that if it wasn't for my iPhone, the bullet would have made it all the way to my heart. I'm not getting a new replacement iPhone. The old one, a burned out box with a hole inside, is sitting as a memento on my desk. It truly saved my life.

Sara said...

My husband just upgraded to the new iphone and got me to agree to switching to his 1st edition iphone (vs my ancient phone which doesn't even have a camera). I am grateful to now have a carrier that gets service in our home (long story about why I had a carrier with no service at home for the past two years), and it's fun that I have a camera on my phone now, but I was unconvinced that I would be happy to have an iphone instead of a normal phone. Now that I know I can survive a shot to the heart and navigate my way to safety on the back of a dolphin, I think I'd better spend the afternoon downloading apps instead of working on getting that dissertation chapter written.

Female Science Professor said...

My daughter, who is the app expert with her father's iPod/iTouch, informs me that I will enjoy faculty meetings more if I sit there popping virtual bubble wrap on the screen. I am very tempted by that.

Anonymous said...

Please send me inspirational stories of how an iPhone changed your life for the better, got you released from prison, helped you do something you wouldn't otherwise have been able to do, and/or allowed your cat to dial 911 and save your life. I need these stories because right now, I hate the iPhone and I need help working through my iPhone issues.

I can't oblige you there, I'm afraid. The iPhone is manufactured in China that probably costs a relative pittance to make the damn things! Sleek and glossy, but picture them being assembled in a greasy sweatshop. Now, that's what you're paying your hundreds for! What else?