Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Editing on iPhone: This is news?

The New York Times reports that iPhone users will get cut, copy and paste ability at long last this summer after a software upgrade. Uh, I've had this feature for at least 9 years since my first Handspring/Palm PDA in 2000. What's next? MMS (multimedia messaging service)? Oh, still doesn't have that either except through 3rd party work arounds? Remind me again why this device is worth camping out for?

Granted, I have had my share of days drooling over, scrimping and saving to get the lastest sparkly tech tool (Previous: Treo line from Palm. Latest? Nokia e71. Review: Nokia E71 Is a Legit iPhone Killer — We’re Serious This Time) and having a child has forced me to curtail my early-adopter tendencies in favor of less sparkly, non-sexy items like college funds and medical insurance co-payments. Still, call me a heretic, but me in the Apple store is like Elton John at Hooters: I don't feel anything for the iPhone. My mouth is not agape and it's definitely drool-free.

Now for all my cheerleading of Palm, I can admit it's not perfect either. In fact, with the Palm Pre announcement little more than rumors and blurry web shots last fall, I had to ditch my trusty Treo 680 after an incurable resetting glitch. But I passed my 650 along to my smartphone newbie mom and still keep the 680 for archival and nostalgia reasons.

I stuck with Handspring/Palm for nearly a decade because it captured all the tools and applications I needed in one handy, albeit slightly thick, package: phone, calendar, web access, laptop tethering using the PDA's unlimited data plan, SMS, MMS, MP3, camera, web radio, cut, copy and paste from every program to every program, QWERTY keyboard, and Microsoft word document creation and editing. It also grates cheese and can be used to flavor soup base. Kidding. But it was a workhorse for me and although I love having wi-fi now, I miss many of its innate charms, including the touchscreen.

Reading about the iPhone cut, copy, paste excitement (I'm still: "Uh, okay.") reminded me that content creation tools were a major part of the Palm's appeal - ones I feared I'd lost completely when I switched to the Nokia e71. It does most of what I need, but its cut, copy, paste function is a bit limited compared to the Treo line, forcing odd workarounds, like having to forward then cancel messages to make them editable for copying text (say a Fedex tracking number), then pasting the number into the browser for tracking a package online.

On the Treo, I could used the touchscreen to copy a line of text in a web page to e-mail to a friend, easily copy and paste a web address (this has become more important with the advent of Twitter and TinyURLs), or highlight and copy a name or number to paste into a contact. These things can be done on the Nokia, but it's awkward, not intuitive, and requires multiple steps.

That said, the e71's wi-fi and ability to run multiple applications at once and hardly make a dent in the crazy-long battery life are huge improvements over the Treo. But even here, I miss the ability to charge the PDA through the USB synch cable. Treo could, Nokia can't.

I know that everyone's "perfect" device is subjective and a personal decision, like deciding what constitutes the "perfect jean." For now, the Nokia has most of what I want in one sleek, speedy package.


  1. Wow I didn't know iphones didn't have cut and paste. I believe my google phone has that thanks to the newest upgrade. I have to admit the key factor for the G1 has been the lightening fast internet capabilities- makes life much easier on the go.

  2. That's good to know about the Google phone. It came out about the same time I was looking to upgrade but I opted for the Nokia e71. I bet the 2nd generation Google phone will be amazing.