So I just got the new iPhone 3G. It is lovely. So well thought through, at all levels. App Store and installing apps works seamlessly. Google Maps with GPS is big time fun. iTunes Remote + a sunny balcony is a great combo.
That great user experience comes at a price though. The iPhone has a few constricting elements, probably in-part brokered by deals Apple made with the telco’s. It is not possible to buy music from the iTunes store when you’re not on WiFi. It is not possible to select a track as a ringtone. And it is not possible to install your own software without going through Apple.
If, as a developer, you do go through Apple and write an application then you are not allowed to write whatever you want. You are not allowed to write an application which accesses the internal system — you have to use Apple’s public Frameworks. For instance, you are not allowed to write an application which uses the cell network for VoIP calling or write software which accesses the camera directly to record bits of video.
Combined with the pre-existing DRM in iTunes we all know and loathe the iPhone takes us another small step down a dangerous slippery slope. Computers and other information devices play such a big part in our daily lives that it is important to ensure that they are not used to constrict our freedom.
On the other hand, the problem is still fairly benign. There are lots of systems to choose from, some more open than others. The iPhone is also very easy to crack. Apple right now has made such a beautiful product that is five years ahead of the competition that I would not think twice to not recommend the iPhone. It’s a rockin’ cage to be in!