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DHH on iPhone 2.0's Glitches

iPhone 2.0: The glory wore off in wash - (37signals)

[via DF]

While acknowledging the complexity of Apple's ambitious launch, David Heinemeier Hansson says iPhone 2.0 wasn't ready for prime time on a number of levels.

Combined, it’s a rather big disappointment. I’m surprised just how much impact the small griefs have when they add up to a lack of confidence in the system. It’s a great example of the cumulative effects of problems. They have an exponential damage on the experience. [...]

It feels a little like Apple got swept up in knocking down every single detraction point from 1.0 that they lost sight of what everyone loved about the first version. Yes, it got cheaper (not really), faster (some times), installable apps, and GPS, but it lost a bit of Apple soul in the process.

David also has a laundry list of complaints on stability and performance. I went through his items and ticked off each of the ones I've also noticed (with a 01-10 for how big a problem it's been for me):

  • [ 0^ ] "Annoying delays all over the place." [MDM: Kinda. I guess that's how I'd describe it.]
  • [ -- ] "Changing to the SMS view can take more than 10 seconds at times." [MDM: Mmm. I haven't seen this. But then I hate SMS and avoid it like the plague.]
  • [ -- ] "Transitions between apps are being dropped entirely or cut short (the latter looks like a UI stutter)." [MDM: Nope.]
  • [ -- ] "It some times requires 3 clicks on the fast-forward button in iTunes to get a response." [MDM: Nope.]
  • [ 07 ] "The screen will freeze for 4-5 seconds not accepting any input, then replay ALL your feverous tapping when it finally returns." [MDM: Oh yeah. Feels like a page out.]
  • [ 09 ] "Some times the keyboard will not keep up with your input (and I’m not that fast of a typer)." [MDM: I'm a *really* slow typer and I get this almost nonstop]
  • [ 07 ] "I’ve had applications crash numerous times." [MDM: Poof. Multiples a day.]
  • [ 10 ] "The entire phone has crashed twice." [MDM: Closer to a half-dozen times for me.]
  • [ 02 ] "Restarting the phone kinda helps some of these problems, but not for long and it feels so dirty and Windows-like to do." [MDM: I guess. More opinion than observation.]

I'll also add a few of my own:

  • Wildly-varying response errors. Similar to the screen freeze I guess, I'm getting substantial lag time -- especially between ending a drag gesture and having the thing I was trying to change register the movement. I'm constantly selecting the "wrong" thing for example. Over and over.
  • The crazy-long Backup time in iTunes. Wow. Can I request a lot fewer of those?
  • Apps I've removed from the phone mysteriously reappear after the next sync
  • Hangs. Huge, old-school, everything freezes, hold all the buttons and wait til restart hangs.

Hm. I hadn't really thought about all these at once, but, yeah. That's a big bunch of broken. Let's hope an update is out soon that addresses some of these.

bensmith's picture

Oh, Come on Guys!

So, I will grant you there are some problems with the 2.0 software that Apple can solve: In there own apps. But the problems with speed, or glitchy 3rd party apps is hardly their issue.

Let me backup. The iPhone/iPod Touch (the device) has 128MB of RAM. Part of this goes to the system, part of this goes to a fake virtual memory block (that's right boys and girls there is no virtual memory on the device). All told you are looking at about 70MB to play with as a developer. This goes down if the user then tries to play music while using your app. If the device runs out of RAM, it kills the app or in some cases reboots. There is a memory warning system that tries to free up memory by deallocating objects when it is critically low, which is why you sometimes see periods of slowness or stalls.

While the device is running OS X, it is NOT a desktop. But the majority of iPhone developers are desktop programmers. The majority of whom I think really understand this distinction. But some don't. First, there is no garbage collection (and shouldn't be - I won't get into why) on the device. But there is on OS X. Secondly, while there is autorealease pools on both, they should be released far sooner on the device then on the desktop (actually you should try to avoid them as much as possible on the device).

This is all to say that developing on a mobile device is hard and you are going to see some terrible apps along with a few good ones. None of which is Apple's fault.

This (slightly ranty comment) is not directed at the folks who originally wrote this article (because they didn't participate in the media fiesta I'm about to describe), but I've seen this elsewhere on the web, mostly from the media. The same media that lost it's mind when they found out there wouldn't be background apps (now that you've read the above paragraphs, does anyone think that's a good idea?). The same media that bashed them for not having 3rd party apps a year ago. And the same media that (I'll admit, not as much as the first two) who had doubts about the whole App Store thing.

This is what happens when people who don't know what they are talking about become the primary commenters on a product. Macworld, Mac blogs and others like them are completely unqualified to say "boo" about an SDK (unless they are a developer), but yet their voice was so loud that (my hunch is) it effected product development. Now their complaining?

This is not to say there aren't problems in 2.0 that Apple needs to address; but if your primary problem is crashes. Blame the right people.




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