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iCall 2.0 [Sep. 23rd, 2013|08:13 am]
Tomas Gallucci
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iPhone5S Launch
View from where I started in line

Initially leading up to/during/after the September 10th iPhone announcement, I had decided I would get an iPhone5S on launch day. But by this past Thursday, I had talked myself out of spending the money that soon, arguing that I could just as easily have a phone in the weeks after the launch if it meant that much to me.

Of course, I couldn't leave well enough alone.

I swung by the Apple Store Thursday night after I left work late. When I got there circa 1930, there were about 10 people or so in line. Despite the fact I had no gear (i.e. chair, tent, inflatable mattress, food, etc.) the thought briefly crossed my mind to just camp out with these folks. But as I said, earlier, I had already decided not to buy the iPhone5S on launch day despite wanting to participate in my first iPhone launch.

Let's not forget that while you could pre-order the iPhone5C, there were no preorders being taken on the iPhone5S. I had read on Apple's website Wednesday night that orders would begin to be accepted at 1201 Friday PDT. This meant I could either stay up until or set an alarm for 0200 if I really wanted a phone or at least wanted to gauge demand for the new phone(s).

While still telling myself that I wouldn't be getting a phone the following morning, I thought I could be smarter than those people who were going to spend the night camped out at the store: I could place my order as soon as the website was live, but instead of requesting shipping and having to wait a week or so, I could reserve my order for pick up sometime Friday.

I was exhausted when I got home, resulting in my going to bed early–around 2300ish.

As luck would have it, I woke up at 0400. I was too wired to go back to sleep. It wasn't that I was excited about the new phones. I mean, sure, that was a contributing factor. But my sleep schedule was just screwed up.

I went online to order/pre-order. Much to the chagrin of earlier plans, I couldn't select in-store pick up. I didn't want to wait for the phone to ship, so I decided I was absolutely not going to purchase the iPhone5S on opening day.

Since it was clear that I wasn't going to get anymore sleep, I decided to start my day and was going to head into work early in an attempt to offset the hours I would need to make up over the weekend due to my class schedule.

On the drive into work, the idea of heading back to Apple just to see how ridiculously long the line was just wouldn't go of me. While, perhaps, it didn't take that much coercing, I gave into this still small voice and headed to the Apple store instead of work.

Surprisingly, the line was quite a bit shorter than I expected it to be. (Frankly, I didn't know what to expect, but I did expect–if not hope for–a crowd of enthusiastic fans.) As you can see from the image at the top of this post, I wasn't that far back from the beginning of the line. While I never walked from the front of the line to the back (because I came in from the back of the line) I would estimate there were maybe 60-100 people in front of me.

For the really curious: the line started about even with the door to the Apple store, but was in the middle of the walkway. It would have started in front of and to the right of the Directory case pictured. The building with the blowout highlights is the Bridgestreet Apple store; the lanterns on either side of the pole are just to the right of the Apple logo. So it didn't feel like I was that far back in line.

I decided to stay in line because it looked like there were too few people in line to make a difference. I thought I would be out of the store with a new phone for sure by 0900 and could thus easily make it into work by 1000.

Also contributing to my decision to stay in line was the fact that I had never taken part in an iPhone launch before. So I decided to stay for the history. Early on, I thought I might decide to step out of line before it was time to buy so I could experience the event but not commit to spending the money.

iPhone5S Launch
The line behind me at 0805. I got chummy with the guy in the pink shirt and the guy on the left with the back pack. It just doesn't look like a lot of people were there. And it didn't feel like it either.

Though it felt a little weird just standing in line with a bunch of strangers, I eventually started chatting with two programmers that lined up immediately behind me. One was switching from Android (backpack) the other was an Apple fan (pink shirt).

Whilst waiting for the even to play out, I wound up meeting an event kindred spirit onTwitter (@kiasuchick) from California. Oddly, despite the launch being a huge event, there wasn't much chatter on the iPhone5S hashtag; else, I really don't understand how to use the Twitter app. I would have thought that there would have been thousands of tags a minute given that more easterly parts of the glob had already or were experiencing their launches.

As far as I recall, I've never been at an event with an official hashtag. (Thinking back, there were one or two hashtags for PlayOn Con, but connectivity in the hotel was abysmal, so they might as well have not existed.) I was surprised that there wasn't a hashtag specifically for the Bridgestreet group. Ideally, that would have come from Apple since it was their event, after all (though Apple would never do such a thing) or spontaneously from the crowd.

Speaking of the crowd, I was further surprised that there were seemingly so few lined up at the Bridgestreet store.

The event itself was rather mellow. The Apple folks tried to boost morale by cheering prior to opening the store. They even ran down the line slapping hands with everyone, but there just wasn't excitement in the air of those of us in line. Perhaps it was because it was too early in the morning and I hadn't had any sugary or caffeinated beverage; perhaps it was because I was in line with a bunch of total strangers and not with friends. Whatever the reason, there was little bonding and thus no fanboying.

While standing in line, I learned from my new programmer friends that they had been told by security that anyone who had camped out the night before was getting kicked out at midnight and would be let back in at 0400. I never confirmed that people got kicked out.

iPhone5S Launch
When the manager told us that the cards were like gold, I imagined a glittering golden ticket, not simple card stock.

After the store opened for business, the Apple folks started handing out cards. The manager of the store came by earlier and explained how the cards worked: they were like gold and guaranteed the color, capacity and carrier of your choice. If cards ran out before the line did, you hoped it happened after you got your card.

They were out of white Verizon iPhone5Ses by the time they came to me. As I stated before and provided photographic evidence of, I didn't think I was that far back in the line. My new programming friends told me that there was a quite limited supply of both the white and gold iPhone5Ses.

As you can see, I got a card for a 32GB Space Gray. I was very disappointed about this and for a long time considered getting out of line. I almost refused a card and got of out line. The staff were kind enough to wait on me to hem haw around and finally decide that I should take a card just so I could guarantee that I had a phone since I was, at this point, fairly committed.

I inquired about whether or not I could use the card as leverage later for the color of my choice. I was told I would need to ask once I was inside the store.

According to my Twitter feed (@ProfessorTom) I was in the store by 0815, but my memory tells me it was closer to 0845 when I entered.

I asked about somehow trading the phone I was brought for the color I wanted. I was told that I had 14 days to return the phone, so if I could catch a stocked phone in the color, capacity and carrier of my choice, I could rectify my disappointment.

I had some trouble setting up the phone in the store–specifically with TouchID: It wouldn't completely read my fingerprints. The solution was to erase all data on the phone. It still acted up a bit the second time through, but I was able to get my thumb added to the device.

I was back in my apartment by 0910 according to my Twitter stream though my memory tells me it was closer to somewhere between 0945 and 1030.

I went home and restored the backup from iCall 1.0. During this process, I received an OS update (7.0.1), updated apps, etc.

iPhone5S Launch
I move up in line

After the apps had updated, I couldn't get iTunes Match to work on the phone. It was just stuck in the Music app with "Loading iTunes Match" with an empty progress bar underneath the label text. The solution to this hiccup was to restart the phone. Once I finally got iTunes Match working on the phone, I couldn't stream music, only download. Another restart alleviated this problem, though I fought with this for several hours before resorting to a reboot; I seem to remember having a similar problem when I tried to get a point update in the 6 series on iCall 1.0. This is rather annoying and goes against Apple's mantra of "It just works!"

Speaking of things that didn't work, I discovered that while I got the new Evernote App, it would only display one note and claimed that all of my notebooks were empty. Googling around, I found that many people had success uninstalling and then reinstalling the app. This worked for me too. Curiously enough, clearing the cache wasn't a viable solution. (i.e. I tried it and it didn't work.)

The Space Gray back has won me over. I still like the idea of a white face, but I've gotten used to the black face. I won't go swap if only to save the time setting everything back up. And while I will feel jealous every time I see a white face iPhone, overall I'm satisfied with the product I have.

iOS 7 has taken some real getting used to. Of course, this means the design language, animations and other modernizations. It did feel like a few features were missing. Of note I couldn't find Reader in Safari. It turns out it's still there, it's just moved. And what a subtle move. While I spotted the image, I didn't make the connection until I found this page after a few minutes of frantic Googling. Here are some other tips and tricks from the same presentation:

  • Spotlight has moved I was aware of this, but I didn't pay attention to how to get to Spotlight. For me, it seems the easiest way to get to Spotlight is to pull down from the middle of the top row of icons in order to disambiguate between trying to pull down Notification Center.

  • I'm looking forward to Key Ring syncing with Mavericks-based Macs. I do fear, however, that if people rely on this feature too much, they will not be able to prove their identities to the sites they manage with Key Ring as they will forget the passwords, much as remembering phone numbers are now largely a thing of the past.

  • While I like the new Safari overall, it takes some getting used to. I wished you could close tabs by flicking to either side of the screen, not just to the left.

  • Again with Safari, I thought that page searching was a thing of the past. Turns out that it's still available, you just have to keep scrolling.

  • Here are two great photography tips: Straight Shooter, Stay Focused

  • You can now redeem iTunes Gift Cards via the camera on your iPhone just like you've been able to do in OS X for a year now. Why this feature was never baked into the iPhone much earlier, I have no clue.

  • I really like Dynamic Type and wished that more apps supported it.

Curiously, one thing that has been removed from iOS 7 is the ability to quickly Tweet and post status updates to Facebook.

One thing I have found myself doing a lot in the three days I've had the phone is use Siri and Dictation instead of typing. (Let's not forget that iCall 1.0 was an iPhone 4 and thus didn't come/upgrade to/with Siri nor Dictation.) This isn't perfect of course, and sometimes it takes just as long, particularly when either feature incorrectly interprets your commands. But unlike on the desktop, (or perhaps because I'm not dictating prose but rather commands and web addresses) the phone is responsive enough that it gets me over the hurdle of having to mentally change contexts and type on a virtual, non-full sized keyboard. (Not that I would want a full sized 101 key keyboard on a phone.)

As time goes by, it will be interesting to see just how much I try to use Siri/dictation on the phone and if I find myself using dictation more on the computer.

I had these thoughts on Dictation shipping in Mountain Lion:

I've thought about trying Dictation, now that the feature ships with Mountain Lion but the time between pressing the button and you speak allows my mind to wander. Additionally, you're limited to 30 seconds. It's funny: when I'm typing, I hear the words I'm writing. Because my fingers have to press the individual keys, there's enough time for me to think of the word that comes next. Even though talking is my preferred method of communication, there's something about being put on the spot and having to wait that causes me to freeze. And even if you use Dictation, you have to go back and clean up the punctuation. In case you're wondering, yes, I've used Dictation in part of this response. In fact these two sentences were "typed" with Dictation.

That's not entirely true about having to clean up punctuation; you can speak the punctuation and Dictation will insert it appropriately. I just haven't spent enough time with the feature to learn all of its nuances.

One thing I have tried that I'm annoyed doesn't work is trying to teach the device. For instance, I've asked Siri to search for an app, but she will give me web results. I tell her, “No, I wanted you to search the apps on my phone.” Of course, she doesn't recognize this. But it would be nice if she understood my no not to be just “no” but rather, “you were wrong and I'm providing you with what I wanted you to do in this situation.” I wished that, instead of waiting on programmers to make Siri better, I can teach her instead.

Over all, the new OS and handset have grown on me. I'm sure I'm nowhere near plumbing the depths of the new hotness, but what I've experience thus far, I like. Nothing stands out that I want to complain about (yet).

It all happened by mistake, but it's the best mistake I've made by far in a long while.

iPhone5S Launch
There were colors in the Apple store

[User Picture]From: gradumacated
2013-09-23 11:26 am (UTC)

iPhone Launch

Thanks for the interesting insight into an iPhone launch! It's funny how events fold into place to give an experience.

Hopefully iCall 2.0 will live up to the promise that it seems to have.

Do you like the new changes to iOS 7?
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2013-09-24 08:43 am (UTC)

Re: iPhone Launch

Thanks for the interesting insight into an iPhone launch!
It's what I do.

It's funny how events fold into place to give an experience.
Winston Churchill said something about how the events of the world turn on tiny hinges.

Hopefully iCall 2.0 will live up to the promise that it seems to have.
It already has. It's snappier than iCall 1.0, though, despite the power, the experience doesn't seem faster. But maybe that's just me. I think all computers are slow, even ones that cost upwards of $3K. Exhibit A: my 2.7Ghz 16GB of RAM and 512GB SSD Retina Mac Book Pro. Exhibit B: the 27" 3.4Ghz 32GB RAM and 512GB SSD iMac that work put on my desk. Perhaps it's not that the computers are slow, but the algorithms that are running on them are highly inefficient. Either way...

Do you like the new changes to iOS 7?
Overall, yes. There are some things that I don't like. But they've really cleaned up the interface.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: onearmedbandito
2013-11-09 01:17 am (UTC)
FIRE BAD!!! Inability to see posts on fire bad.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2013-11-09 09:01 am (UTC)
Is this celtmanx under a different LJ account? The celtmanx account should have full access to the fire posts. If not, please call me. You still have my number, right?

Edited at 2013-11-09 01:02 pm (UTC)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)