So I consulted with a few of my friends who currently are Verizon CDMA customers to ask them how their current device handles being forced to choose between voice and data connections.
Unlike the current GSM AT&T 3G iPhones, which can maintain Voice and Data connections simultaneously, the new Verizon iPhone, based on CDMA technology is forced to use one or the other but NOT both. This is also the case with any other Verizon CDMA device.
According to my friends, Verizon maintains a voice-priority network. In other words, lets say you are browsing the web and a phone call comes in – your data connection is terminated. While talking on the phone, you simply cannot switch to speakerphone, minimize your phone, and use any apps that require network connectivity. As far as any app is concerned at that point, it’s “off the network”. It will be interesting to see how some existing apps misbehave if the iOS developer hasn’t correctly implemented the “reachability” classes for network connectivity monitoring.
The bad thing is – this also holds true for tethering. A few of my friends who use Verizon tethering said that it’s a real pain in the ass if they are tethering and/or sharing their connection by way of a hotspot and then a phone call comes in. When this happens – all network connectivity drops while the voice call is in place, and then the connection resumes once the voice call ends.
In any case – this is a huge flaw that makes this initial launch on Verizon’s network less than stellar. Of course, this restriction mirrors the same behavior of the original iPhone on AT&T’s Edge network. It was only with the introduction of the 3G AT&T iPhones based on the GSM protocol that you could begin using voice and data at the same time.
Moral of the story – if you think you may want to use some apps and use data at the same time as a voice call, or if you don’t ever want your data connections to be spontaneously disconnected by a voice call – Verizon iPhone isn’t the answer for you….. yet.
So as an iPhone app developer, I am always looking for new providers to start carrying the iPhone. I know of some people who absolutely loathe AT&T for whatever reason (usually hype rather than fact) – and love verizon for some reason…. They want iPhones – but have been waiting for the day when it comes on Verizon.
Well – it’s here today. And I can tell you – this is a huge win for app developers like myself who hope to see Verizon knock this one out of the park and sell *another* 100 million iPhones. After all, more phones = more app downloads (in general).
I’ll share more of my thoughts later when I have time – but for now – let’s go through the series of WINS and FAILS I see so far with today’s announcement:
- WIN: AT&T Exclusivity Ends!
- WIN: Hardware costs the same as it does elsewhere ($199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB)
- WIN: Mobile Hotspot service enabled by default (Eat that, AT&T)
- WIN: All the remaining iPhone 4 bits are still there – HD Camera, Retina Display, etc ,etc.
- FAIL: Uses CDMA 3G instead of LTE. Verizon and Apple said that’s “cause we wanted to get this out as soon as possible because people want it”. I say, people waited for it long enough – what’s another few weeks? The only reason to proceed down the path they have is to do what I call “George Lucas” their loyal customers by allowing them to buy a phone now, then getting them to buy another one again in a year. Apple is really good at this and I’m betting this was their decision.
- HUGE FAIL: No simultaneous voice/data. On the surface this doesn’t sound like an issue – but trust me, it sucks – Why – let me tell you… THIS IS NOT limited to trying to talk on the phone and browse – who cares about that scenario, it’s rare. The problem is that this means the phone simply cannot receive data and use the voice line at the same time.
So… one scenario where this is a huge problem is when you set up all of your mail accounts on your iPhone and you put them into a 10-minute auto-check cycle. In this scenario – every 10 minutes, your phone WILL NOT receive voice calls for a short period. If your phone is checking mail and someone calls in – guess what, goes to voicemail. This is archaic and it’s the same problem we had with the original iPhone.
Worst part is, most people don’t even think about this scenario until it’s too late. I didnt think about it until my girlfriend called me one day and said “I’ve been trying to call you all day, why does your phone always go to voicemail?” and it was because I had my original iPhone set on a 5 minute mail check cycle across 3 e-mail accounts.
Important Note: This same issue would occur with any Verizon customer who is now using the CDMA network with their DROID phones, too – so it’s not new to the iPhone – it’s just a crappy limitation of CDMA networks. I do have a friend who informed me that on his Sprint CDMA device – he can choose a “priority” for voice or data so that data doesn’t step on your voice calls and vice/versa – but I am not sure if this is standard issue CDMA function, a Sprint extension to a CDMA function, etc. I’m not aware of whether Verizon supports this type of tech, nor whether the iPhone for Verizon will support this. My guess is no.
REGARDLESS – not being able to use voice/data simultaneously is not cool. Even if the device supports “prioritization” – I don’t want to interrupt my voice calls with data sessions and I dont want to interrupt my data sessions with voice calls. If I am connected to my new Verizon iPhone as a WiFi hotspot and sharing with 5 other people or devices – I dont want it to drop all of those just because a damned call comes in – yet I don’t want to miss my call either. With newer networks – I wouldn’t have to compromise.
- FAIL: Why call a damned press conference if you’re not even going to announce the price of service on the thing.
Because of my experiences with the huge problems created when the phone cannot simultaneously use voice and data – for me, this is a no go. This would mean that when you’re using the WiFi hotspot – chances are your device could never be used for a phone – which is about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. AT&T still has the advantage here since I can talk all day on my phone and it would still be checking my mail in the background. I could also be checking my mail and still receive a phone call.
For now – the score is still AT&T 1, Verizon 0 in my book. But I’m very happy to see this outward growth of carrier support in the USA – and I look forward to what this will mean in the future. Competition usually is not a bad thing.
So I just ran software update on my macbook pro, anxious to check out the new app store. Looks like what we are very familiar with in iTunes and in the app stores on iOS devices – with one exception. For me, it wouldn’t let
me download jack squat – it just kept popping up “Error 100” over and over whether it was a free app or not. Fortunately, fixing this is simple – here’s what I did:
- I ensured I was signed out of the Mac App store by using the “Sign Out” menu option on the “Store” menu.
- I quit out of the App Store completely.
- I loaded iTunes and went to the iTunes store. I picked a free app for my iPhone and downloaded it. If you’re looking for free apps – there are several from my company, GeekUtils (click here). You can download a paid app too, doesn’t matter what you download – the key is to force iTunes to pop up the new “Terms and Conditions” so you can click agree.
- Once you’ve agreed to iTunes new terms and conditions – exit iTunes and restart your computer
- When your computer restarts – load the Mac App store. You should be good to go. If not – try clearing cookies from your safari cache, which appear to be shared to this app. Then, reboot again and reload the app store.
Apparently, it looks like Error 100 may be caused by your agreed “Terms and Conditions” being out of date. In iTunes and on the iPhone/iPad/iPod, this condition prompts the terms and conditions window to appear for your approval. It seems like the App Store must not be able to pop terms and conditions for you to agree and continue.
In any case – these steps should get you up and running – worked like a charm for me. Enjoy!