iPhones, iPods, headphones

Although Steve Jobs described the iPhone as the “best iPod [Apple] ever made” back in January 2007, I have to say I’m not sure.

I previously owned a 2nd generation nano, and loved it. Light, easy to use… OK the screen was tiny and the capacity was limited, but it did the job.

The iPhone has that nice big screen with video playback going for it, and now it also has the new (and very, very cool) Genius playlist feature. Just a small number of issues, then…

  1. No search? the 2G nano had search! Am I missing something?
  2. No ability to read the notes for podcasts. On the nano I could press the button to cycle through time / cover art / lyrics or info display, and on the iPhone I get lyrics or the “back” of the album cover. Nothing useful for podcasts.
  3. The time slider is way too difficult to control with a finger. On a longer podcast, say over an hour, skipping over a minute or two of the duration is almost impossible. The click wheel definitely wins there.
  4. Finally, and most annoyingly: no external skip / pause control. I have to take the phone out of my pocket, potentially unlock the screen, and then skip to the next track. Really not the best idea when travelling on the London Underground (“that’s right folks, I have a 3G iPhone, please mug me at the next station”).
    OK – time for a confession here. I never unpacked the iPhone headphones until last week. I didn’t realise that they have a mic on the wire with a click switch which gives the forward/back/pause control. Why? Because I’m so used to the poor audio quality of the Apple earbuds that I switched to Shure ones several months ago and I’ve been using them since. So it seems to me that what is needed is some kind of cable which can fit in between third-party headphones and the iPhone’s headphone socket with an external switch on them.

I think the iPhone is an awesome device, but for me, it just isn’t the best iPod I’ve ever had.

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11 responses to “iPhones, iPods, headphones

  1. If I ever have to get my iTouch out on the tube to skip some errant musical choice, I am almost tempted to shout to the muggers: ‘Listen – it’s not an iPhone, it’s an iTouch !’

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  2. I don’t use my iPhone as an iPod at all. I’ve tried, but it’s just become too much for me to have to remember the adapter for my awesome Sony earbuds (yeah, pre-3G iPhone with stupid recessed headjack). Also, the iPhone is an 8G which is not enough for me. Too much hassle having to re-load and update contents all the time. I just use it now as a phone, for internet etc, and for apps. Call me spoiled, but it actually angers me that I need to carry an 80G classic too just to satisfy my music and video needs. I look forward to the day of an affordable iPhone with loads of storage.

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  3. Andy, that “some kind of cable” you are looking for is available. Just do a google for iPhone adapter. There is even a Shure iPhone adapter in the Apple store.

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  4. Well that will teach me to do my research! Thanks Per. I need to check those adapters out in more detail (the Shure one is pretty expensive!)

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  5. As the Touch 2G is on its way to my home, I’m tempted to try the upcoming Apple ‘shure-alike’ in-ear ones, which include the mic. Regarding the real Shure ones, I’ve always had a problem paying more for earphones than the MP3 player itself, but maybe there’s something I don’t get 🙂

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  6. What adapter did you buy then?

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  7. I ended up with a Griffin SmartTalk – it’s a nice compact adapter at the iPhone end, and the cable itself is very thin and light (more like a fabric cord) so I can keep that coiled up without adding much to the length of the overall headphone cable. Some of the other options were either expensive (Shure) or expected you to plug your existing headphones directly into another adapter on the end of the iPhone, adding to the bulk.

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  8. Hey Andy, one tip that i found particularly useful is if you press the home button twice in quick succession then you get different behaviours depending on where you are on the phone at the time. If the phone is off the result is a set if iPod controls on the unlock screen that allow you to pause or advance the track without unlocking the device. Its really useful, especially if you have a keycode. You can configure this feature from Settings -> General -> Home button to make sure iPod Controls is on.

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  9. And what about to do lists? They seem to have gone too 😦

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  10. Andy – aha – I’d seen controls appear sometimes, but wasn’t sure if this was a bug! D’oh. I do have that option set. Now I know what is going on.

    Benjamin – to do lists? You mean, they are on the nano but not on the iPhone or Touch?

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  11. Andy, thanks for posting this some months back. Very helpful. Being new to the iPhone, I never realised that the standard mic doubles as a ‘click’ mechanism either. Maybe I skipped the documentation. Anyway, I’ve ordered some new headphones (always liked Sennheisers for my iPod), but at least I now know what features I’m after. Thanks again.

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