I began my journey--my long journey--to iPhone 2.0 by first upgrading from 1.1.3 to 1.1.4. That seemed to go smoothly. I had recently upgraded iTunes to 7.7 and it had backed up my phone, so because iTunes recognized that the phone was connected to it I felt confident enough to simply wipe the phone and restore it from a backup. It then came back with no trouble. Now, I thought, time to install 2.0. Trouble was, although iTunes recognized that the 2.0 software was available, it would not install it. When I clicked the Upgrade button, iTunes would take forever trying to contact the server. After waiting about 15 minutes, I clicked the cancel button and then iTunes told me that I needed version 7.7 to install the 2.0 iPhone software. Hmmm. I already had 7.7.
After some research, it appeared that many people had a problem connecting to Apple's servers and a few people even had the problem I had. One suggestion was to create a new network Location in System Preferences, because (so the speculation went) your current configuration was looking in the wrong place for Apple's servers. It sounded like some kind of DNS problem, or perhaps a default configuration file that had the wrong domain name or IP address in it.
So, given that problem, I directly downloaded the 2.0 firmware file from an Akamai server (on appldnld.apple.com.edgesuite.net/content.info.apple.com/iPhone), shift-clicked the Restore button, and selected that download file. Whereupon I found that MacOS had helpfully dearchived the ipsw file and deleted the original. So I used wget to grab the archive, and it seemed to install 2.0, but the phone refused to return to life. It was stuck asking me to plug it in to iTunes... but it was plugged in. I plugged and unplugged it, restarted iTunes, restarted the Mac. All to no avail. I eventually cleared that little problem by restoring the phone to an older backup, downloading iTunes 7.7 AGAIN and installing it AGAIN, and then rebooting once or maybe twice. iTunes then realized that it really was version 7.7, it downloaded the firmware package by itself, installed it, and the phone came back. My only guess is that the iTunes reinstall overwrote some bad bit or data or errant config file somewhere.
It certainly took a long time to reinstall though, because I had to do a complete wipe and ittook a long while to transfer 7.5GB of music and podcasts and photos and videos. But eventually I was up and running with 2.0. It was certainly worth the effort, too. I have so far installed 1Password, eBay, Light, Labyrinth LE, Shazam, Moonlight Mahjong, PayPal, Tap Tap, Apple's Remote, Scribble, Dice Bag, Pandora, Molecules, myLite, Aurora Feint, Urbanspoon, Bloomberg, Nearby, Shakespeare, WritingPad, PhoneSaber, Cube Runner, and midomi. No doubt I will be deleting some of these eventually, but I remember this phase of exploration when I first got a PalmOS device and I downloaded things I didn't really want but seemed interesting. And like the early days of PalmOS, a number of the apps now flooding onto the market sort of make me think, "They want $4.99 for that?" So far I haven't bought any applications, not even Super Monkey Ball, but I'm sure I will. I'm just waiting a little while to see what comes out (and as the rest of the family have been in Japan for the last few weeks, I haven't gotten any pressure to buy any of the games now out!). At this stage of iPhone development, many of the apps, especially games, use the more novel aspects of the technology. We have tilt games and touch games, but the problem with tilt and touch is that the former reduces the amount of screen you can see, and the latter hides part of it completely. Sometimes it doesn't matter, as in Moonlight Mahjong (not actually Mahjong, though). But for games like the various Air Hockey versions, using the finger can get a little tricky. I just don't see myself spending even US$0.99 on one. Maybe if I was a huge airhockey fan.
One application that I consider critical is 1Password. Although I installed it on my Mac a long time ago, I only bought it relatively recently. Now I am making full use of it, and the iPhone version is excellent. It wirelessly syncs your keychain in much the same way that iTunes permits remote control, by displaying a number on the iPhone which you type into a window belonging to the 1Password application. The 1Password developers have tips on sync problems on agilewebsolutions.com, and there do seem to be some challenges with it. I had to turn off my firewall for the desktop app to get the request from the iPhone, but once I did that it synced quickly. 1Password on the iPhone has its own browser, and handles logins seamlessly. It offers a full two-way sync, too, so changes on either machine will be updated on the other, but I found a lot of "Conflict Copy" keys on both machines after my second sync between the two. Considering that I have over 300 keys and lots I no longer use, I really should have cleaned that up before I sync'd. I will, and will then delete 1Password from the iPhone, sync to install it again, and then sync the keychain.
Another great app: Shazam. Just run it with some music playing (TV, radio, whatever) and it will listen for a few seconds, analyze it, and tell you what it is. midomi is another app like it. I don't know how they do it, but they seem like magic to me.
A peculiar thing recently happened to my iPhone, a week or so after I updated to 2.0. I turned it off, and when I turned it on a couple of hours later, it presented me with an icon of the USB cable and the instruction that I should connect the phone to iTunes. That could have meant that the SIM card had lost its mind, that the machine just didn't know what it was. I shut it down and started it again and then it seemed to return to normalcy, though it displayed a dialog that it had been activated on the phone network. I soon discovered that all my third-party apps would not run. They appeared to start, perhaps displaying a loading screen, and then they would crash-to-Springboard (the iPhone's Finder equivalent). I synced and most of the applications worked, but Remote and PhoneSaber did not. I deleted Remote and sync'd again, and it worked. I didn't delete PhoneSaber but the sync also fixed that too. Not sure what was going on there. I suppose it is possible that the SIM card had become dislodged or a random cosmic ray had knocked some bit from 1 to 0 somewhere deep inside its solid state memory, but it was a bit of a shock. I wonder if my phone has a physical problem.
Apple pulled one application from the store recently, NetShare by NullRiver, that permitted you to tether your phone to a computer, meaning that you could use the phone as a wireless modem. That is explicitly forbidden in Apple's and AT&T's usage license without a US$30 per month fee, so I am rather surprised that the app even made it onto the store. Costing $9.99, I suppose some people would find it useful. You could be on the road and away from WiFi, and a 3G connection is probably pretty speedy, too. Still, what about those people who bought it? They will likely have no support from NullRiver now, and I wonder if Apple reserves the right (and has the power) to delete applications from our iPhones if they choose to. That would not be good. The App Store's Terms and Conditions ("T&C") says we cannot use the App Store outside of the US, and Apple "may use technologies to verify such compliance." Another interesting thing in the T&C: "Products may only be downloaded once; after being downloaded, they cannot be replaced if lost for any reason." (There is a "resume interrupted download" exception, however.) It also says that we may not "encourage or assist any other person to, circumvent or modify any security technology or software that is part of the Service or used to administer the Usage Rules." It also warns that if Apple discontinues the service, we will not necessarily be able to use the software we have bought. The T&C does say "Apple reserves the right not to post or publish any material, and to delete or edit any material, at any time in its sole discretion without notice or obligation to you." That sort of comment is most often used for removing comments from forum boards, but I suppose it could apply to software, too. But there is an explicit paragraph that says that Apple "reserves the right to change, suspend, remove, or disable access to any Products, content, or other materials... at any time without notice." So there you have it. Nothing explicitly states that they are able to proactively go in and delete existing software from an iPhone, but it sounds like Apple reserves that right.
A funny thing while i was reading the T&C: Safari on the iPhone crashed, and all I was doing was scrolling. I have had it crash on some much more complex pages but not on the rather plain html of a T&C page.
One area where 2.0 is far, far better than 1.1.3: I almost never get dropped calls now. I spend at least an hour on the phone every day during the work week, and I would get at least two and as many as four dropped calls per day. There were no specific places the calls would drop either, that I could determine. It would just happen. But I have not had one dropped call since upgrading to 2.0. Too bad Safari hasn't improved much. In fact, I could argue that it has even gotten worse. With 1.1.3, after returning to Safari after some time in other apps, Safari would show me blank thumbnail pages. I knew immediately that if I went into that page Safari would display a blank screen and start to download the content again. Now, it often shows me a complete page in that thumbnail, but when I select that page it blanks it out and redownloads it. Why can't I have an option to overrule a page's refresh setting? Is that really too much to ask? And why can't the iPod application be more like the Apple Remote software? I far prefer Remote's way of displaying music, but why don't either of them have a better scroller? I can't scrub back five minutes, let alone just a few seconds, which I often want to do when listening to podcasts or poor quality audio recordings. Scrubbing remains very difficult. Finally, I can see that the small square icons for applications and bookmarks will soon become unmanageable. Scrolling through pages of applications trying to find one amongst so many will become tiresome. Also, why does the App Store application transfer us back to the Springboard (Finder) when we install an application? Why not stay in the App Store and download in the background? Perhaps that violates some programming tenet.
Apple has clearly demonstrated that the company can deliver online services. Just look at .mac and iTunes. So what went wrong with the MobileMe rollout? I have not yet reactivated my .mac account. I supposed I will one of these days, but I knew better than to do so on the day (or even the week) after Apple released MobileMe. I knew that there would be teething problems, and sure enough, people had all kinds of difficulties. Well, maybe "difficulties" is too soft a word. What I heard was that people people could not sign up easily, the service was completely out for periods of time, that they could not sync or could only do so very slowly, and even that e-mail was lost. It really sounds like it was a terrible experience. I read an announcement from Apple claiming only 1% of people were affected, but that is still a large number of people. Even worse, a separate Apple blog admitted that as much as 10% of incoming mail between 16 and 18 July may have been lost, but perhaps some of it was recovered later. The company even launched a dedicated MobileMe Mail chat system so that people could get help quickly (or at least more quickly than just sending out an e-mail from a different, working system). It seems to me that this was quite a "black eye" for Apple, but the company will recover, I'm confident of that. Yes, the company was probably too ambitious, as Steve Jobs said in an e-mail he sent to the company and arstechnica.com posted in its entirety. All the things that Steve said were reasonable, that they could have rolled out different services at regular intervals and so forth. The good thing is that what Apple rolls out is still very good, and you can expect that the followup releases will be far better executed (and far better executed than most other companies ever do). Well, you live and learn, though it can't be good for Apple Senior VP Rob Schoeben who is no longer in charge of the MobileMe team. No word on what happened to him, but a newly minted VP is now in charge of it. I suppose someone needs to take the blame for it, but I expect that the all-at-once rollout was approved by Steve Jobs and the top executives. Maybe Mr. Shoeben painted too rosy a picture of what they could deliver, but then again, Steve has that reputation for making absolute demands.
Speaking of Steve Jobs, I wasn't going to mention this but there has been quite a bit of speculation about this on the Internet and in the print and blog media, so I suppose I can mention that Steve did look a bit thin and seemed somehow slower than usual at WWDC, but if he had been sick recently and had been taking antibiotics I can understand how it might have affected him. I lose weight when I get sick, too, and I am thankful that I did not suffer from an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor, either, as he did. Yes, his position as the absolute leader of Apple makes his health of particular interest to Apple users and shareholders, more so than any other CEO in the world, probably, and were he to suddenly not be able to perform his work the company would no doubt suffer, but I'm also sure that he is doing all he can to maintain and monitor his health and he's made sure that the people around him are very good at what they do.