Unfortunately, it is just one more bit of nasty among so many more, and it's such a quintessential bit of Apple nasty.
The maximal interval for an iPhone Calendar alert is 2 days.
This is a problem. I need to be alerted of upcoming birthdays and certain other events at least 2 weeks ahead of time. That has been possible with all the calendaring software I've used over the past fifteen years -- except for the iPhone Calendar.app.
Now here's what makes this so perfectly Apple. The iPhone development team had dozens of examples to draw from, not least the original PalmPilot. They must have consciously decided to omit this feature. I imagine the team was proud of dropping a feature few people would use, proud of their minimalist aesthetic.
Ok, bad enough, but I'm used to that. I'm way off in the extreme tail of software users. There's very little I'm really happy with (Windows Live Writer, Gmail, and Google Reader come to mind). Apple's desktop iCal software reaks about as much as their iPhone app.
What makes this straw a back breaker is not simply that iPhone calendaring is pathetic, it's that Apple forbids alternatives. Even on OS X there are a few alternatives to Apple products, but on the iPhone only Apple can use the USB cable, and vendors are explicitly forbidden to distribute alternatives to Apple's core applications. On the iPhone it's Apple's Calendar.app, or it's nothing.
It's a bad story, and, short of a revolution in Apple's attitude, it's not going to get better. Astonishingly, the Apple iPhone and MobileMe have made me miss the old Microsoft.
So I've stopped recommending the iPhone to
Which brings me to the obvious next question. If the iPhone is a dead end, is their anything better?
Not yet, but I'm going to be watching the Android even more closely, and, I've got my fingers crossed that the Palm Pre will beat very long odds, and I'm watching for the jailbreak team to add a Calendar replacement that runs against Google Calendar.
Update 2/9/09: Google to the rescue? I feel for Nuevasync. The iPhone calendar app still sucks, but I can use the WebKit interface to Google Calendar to make changes.
Update 2/14/09: Saved by Google.