iPhones and iPads

So with the anti-climatic introduction of the Blackberry Playbook, it seems the iPhone/iPad combo is still the one to beat. Now on their fourth and second generation respectively, the devices have reached a unique level of maturity. So what are the issues that corporate users – as well as consumers – are still wrestling with?

Screen Freeze: Sometimes the iPhone and iPad will freeze up or will not return to the main screen. As with PCs, the device may need to be rebooted to clear and reset its memory. To do so, simply press and hold the Sleep/Wake button and the Home button at the same time for at least ten seconds or until the Apple logo appears.

Battery life: Many of the features that came out with the iPhone 3G/3Gs and 4 run power-hungry processes. Accordingly, if your iPhone is not docked, you will find that the battery drains significantly during the day. There are some third-party gadgets you can purchase, like an external battery source, to help alleviate the problem; however, some workarounds are to turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when not using and to lower your screen brightness.

Clumsy Headset Design: Using the iPhone as a traditional cell phone – without an external speaker phone, earbuds, or Bluetooth ear piece – is frequently an exercise in frustration. My cheek inevitably hits the mute button or a number causing a beep and frequently blacks out when I remove it from my ear to touch the console.

Dropped calls: Some experience dropped calls from their iPhone. This is a common complaint about AT&T’s cellular coverage. Now that Verizon offers the iPhone, IT departments may need to look at switching to their service.

Reception Problems: One of the first and probably most well-known iPhone 4 problems is the loss of reception when touching its antenna band. The antenna band is located on the left side of the unit, so users are advised to hold the device with their right hand to avoid blocking the antenna side. This solution has worked quite well for most right-handed users but less so for “south paws”. An easy and obvious workaround for this problem is to purchase and use an iPhone 4 case.

Wi-Fi Connection Problems: Its not uncommon to have difficulty connecting to a Wi-Fi network and this is not unique to iPads and iPhones. Typically this is the result of network security and a missing or an incorrect password. If at a corporate location, check with your Help Desk to ensure you have the correct security configurations. When using some public Wi-Fi networks (“hot spots”) like Starbucks, the Safari iPhone web browser may display a web page that allows you to sign in to use the service. Check this web page for additional information on signing into or subscribing to the Wi-Fi network service at that location.

Corporate eMail and Calendaring: iPhone and iPad owners can access their corporate Exchange email and calendaring through these devices. IT Help Desks and end-users themselves can configure this functionality in a matter of minutes. However, these devices are not native Active Directory clients and passwords do not sync – thus when you change your Windows password, you must manually change the Exchange password on your iPhone or iPad. This is a frustration point for the lay user.

Support for Flash: Flash is a popular web technology developed by Adobe and embedded in many web sites. It allows for advanced automation and graphics beyond that provided in HTML, the original language of the World Wide Web. For a variety of reasons, Apple decided not to support Flash technology on their devices. While a minor annoyance with the iPhone, this will be an inconvenience for anyone using the iPad as a tablet computer.  Many websites will simply not render correctly. Apple is strongly encouraging web developers to adopt HTMLv5 which it says will provide the graphics that Flash does now. Yet until that happens, the absence of Flash support will negatively affect the web surfing experience.

Location tracking: This one is the most recent crisis with the iPhone: Privacy proponents have complained vocally about recent versions of iOS keeping a history of location coordinates. In response to the uproar, Apple released iOS update 4.3.3 which no longer copies location history to iTunes and completely deletes it when Location Services is disabled.

Apple has a very helpful online “assistant” page at http://www.apple.com/support/iphone/assistant that addresses many of these issues. Unfortunately, it doesn’t address the biggies.  Sometimes it seems Apple denies problems until they are backed into a corner and forced into action.