Monthly Archive for January, 2007

The Next Gen iPhone

Sure, it might be a little early for speculation, seeing as how the current generation of the iPhone isn't even available yet, but I'm going to hazard a few guesses here anyway.

Since the gadget itself really consists of two major aspects, software and hardware, I'll break up the predictions into those categories.

HARDWARE:

  1. 3.2 MP Camera: this was something surprising about the 2 MP cam in the first gen model – why would Apple be a me-too in this area? Most higher end phones are pushing for higher and higher MP counts. (I'm waiting for Sony Ericsson to release a new 4 or 5 MP camera phone any day now.)
  2. Thinner chassis: This is almost a gimme. It's the natural order of things, after all.
  3. Integrated GPS: I mis-reported in my first post regarding the iPhone; the current unit does NOT have a GPS tuner. The Google Maps integration is web based only. However, with the kind of partnership Apple has with Google for this device, I'm thinking a GPS version with Maps support isn't too far off.
  4. 3G: A lot of phone snobs are making a big deal about this. The current version utilizes Cingular's (AT&T's?) EDGE network for high speed over-the-air downloads. EDGE is so 2005. I think Apple made a good choice with leaving 3G alone for now for a couple reasons: One, 3G is only available in select markets; and Two, 3G eats battery like nobodies business. BUT, in the next two years, Cingular/AT&T will have greatly expanded their coverage, AND hardware manufacturers will figure out ways to make 3G more energy efficient.
  5. Better Battery Life: 5 Hours of talk time + browsing is OK. 16 hours of playback is longer than the current iPod lineup. But, as more and more stuff gets crammed into this device, this is a limiting factor on the gadget's usability. Better batteries are a must.

SOFTWARE:

  1. Adding a GPS tuner might give way to a host of location-aware applications. Maps is the most obvious example, but what about automatically geo-tagging pictures taken with the built-in camera? Or some kind of buddy finder so you can see the long/lat of the person on the other end of your current call.
  2. I'd love to be able to have the iPhone paired with my Mac via Bluetooth, and use a "capture-only" version of Delicious Library to scan bar codes using the built-in iPhone camera. Then, the desktop version of DL would accept that scan and then act the same way it would if I had just scanned something with a wired FireWire cam. Perhaps even a method to store those scans, and then sync them via Bluetooth at a later point in time.
  3. Exchange Support: This one is also kind of a gimme. Apple has already shoe-horned something like this into Mail.app on their desktop OS, so why not add it to a device that would clearly appeal to business users? Business users that probably work at companies that only use MS Exchange Server for their mail. 
  4. Video Recording: Since it comes with a camera, it only makes sense that this thing could shoot stills AND video. I'm placing this under software because I'm willing to bet that the current iPhone will be able to shoot video, if only via a software update.

I guess this list could go on and on, and who knows? Maybe we'll see some of this on the FIRST iPhone. 

 

 

More Thoughts on the iPhone

After some further review of the announced specs, as well as varied input from the Mac community, here are some revised/additional thoughts on Apple's new iPhone.

NO FM RADIO – I don't think anyone will care, myself included, but this is something I feel like I have to mention. A lot of higher end phones seem to have this thrown in, because it's such a gimmick. I'll admit that when I was looking into buying my K750i, the idea of having a ubiquitous FM tuner on hand at all times seemed great. In reality, though, I never use it.

NO FLASH/TORCH/LIGHT – Something that I do use frequently on my K750 is it's built-in high intensity LED. It works pretty well for brightening photos in darker environs, but I more frequently use it as a straight-up flashlight. You'd be surprised (or maybe you wouldn't) at how handy this thing is – I look under the couch with it at least once a week.

NO SWAPPABLE BATTERY – This is very much in line with Apple's iPod strategy, where you cannot remove or replace the built-in battery. There will be battery recycling/replacement initiatives, I'm sure, but at what cost to the consumer?

NO USER UPGRADEABLE MEMORY – It appears that there will be no expansion slot for the inclusion of larger capacity flash disks. My K750 has a memory stick pro duo slot, in which a 2GB chip currently sits. Sure, I might not use more than 2 GB in a regular cell phone, but I would imagine that 4GB or 8GB in a smartphone that will handle movies, music, photos, etc might get a little cramped. I shouldn't have to buy a whole new iPhone just to get a memory upgrade.

NO WIRELESS SYNCING – This is something I heard from David Pogue's quick hands-on notes. I'm sure this refers to the lack of an ability to sync wirelessly via wifi for use with photos and music and movies; I can't imagine Apple would not include their stupid-easy Bluetooth contact/calendar syncing via iSync. It's something I've come to depend on really, so I hope I won't have to resort to using a [*shudder*] USB cable to do something I've been doing wirelessly for years.

NO THIRD PARTY APPS – Granted, we're WAY early in the game here, but I've heard various rumblings about the iPhone's lack of an SDK. Developers need an SDK if they're going to be able to write apps that will run on the device. Developers also need time to develop apps. Even if Apple releases an SDK and dev kits to developers NOW, that only gives them about 5 months to learn the SDK and build their apps. That might be a little bit of a cramped time-frame. Like I said, it's still early; Apple could easily surprise us by proving that yes, this thing actually does run OS X. If that's the case (which I find sort of unlikely…) then it should be no problem to just move the app over to the device.

OS X – Ok, so that last bit segues nicely into this next bit. What makes this thing tick? Steve said it runs OS X, but that was about it. Just by looking at the interface, it's pretty obvious it's not any version of OS X with which even the most evangelical of Mac enthusiasts is familiar. (Something that would be awesome to see: a new version of Xcode that has a new compiler checkbox: add "iPhone" to the already existing "PowerPC" and "Intel.")

No MIDP/JAVA ENVIRONMENT – Something else I use a lot on my K750i, is it's Java environment, by way of MIDP 2. I can install and run any variety of third party java apps or games. Since the desktop variant of OS X uses Java as one of it's foundation layers, I'd be surprised to find that the iPhone doesn't include something similar. After all, it runs OS X, right?

 

 

Thoughts on the iPhone

If you've known me for any longer than 5 minutes, you know that I am a phone whore. I like the small form factors, the feature robustness, the pervasiveness of portable technology, the pace of new models being released – I love mobile devices.

If you use a cell phone, you're probably used to your interface. You've used it often enough while trying to make calls or send text messages that you've merely gotten used to it. In general, cell phone interfaces are abysmal. They lack key visual clues. They often lack a straightforward way to accomplish a straightforward task quickly. Guess what? It's a mobile phone – things should be fast and intuitive. If I wanted to spend 10 minutes trying to figure out how to send a picture to a friend, I'd do it in front of a computer, not my phone.

A lot of people have been saying for a long time that if Apple were to enter the mobile handset market, they would turn the whole industry on its ear.

Now, Apple has done exactly that. 

My personal thoughts, as they occurred to me during today's keynote: 

  1. I wish they'd stop talking about the AppleTV
  2. Whoa, is that a phone?
  3. Holy cow – this trumps almost all of the features from the K790a I almost bought. Except the camera.
  4. I bet a lot of folks at Moto and Nokia are upset right about now. And so are their shareholders.
  5. Hey, wait, I'm already a Cingular subscriber! 
  6. How much does it cost. When can I get one? 
  7. Stop yapping and tell me how much it costs and when I can get one!
  8. Ouch. That's a lot of clams. And June is so far away.

So, to me, it seems like Apple basically took a good long look at the existing smartphone market, and said,  (in a very typical Apple style) "Nah, let's try something else." So they scrapped all of the conventional wisdom, and built their own gadget from the ground up. Some noteworthy specs:

  • 2MP camera (this would be a lateral move for me – I had planned on upgrading to the SE K790a's 3.2 MP camera with AF.)
  • Integrated Wi-fi
  • Quad-band GSM/EDGE (850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz bands – this is a WORLD phone!)
  • 4GB or 8GB storage
  • All touch-screen interface – no buttons. Killer. This item hearkens back to the original point I was making at the beginning of this post: Apple has pretty much re-invented the phone interface. Multi-touch support, which means you can have more than one finger doing different things at the same time. To top it all off, it's so pretty, just like real OS X. For the most part, everything looks fairly intuitive, and more closely resembles what I feel a mobile device's interface should be.
  • Accelerometer – it knows when it's oriented as landscape or portrait and automatically adjusts the display to suit. Magic.
  • Proximity detector – turns off the touchscreen when it's next to your face (so you don't accidentally hang up on people or send the phone into some crazy application.)
  • 3.5 in. screen – apparently super high quality. I believe it – c'mon, it's Apple. 
  • Runs OS X – this amazes me. What kind of architecture powers this little thing?
  • Handles Desktop-class applications, natively (again: I'm amazed.) 
  • Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR and A2DP – also things I would have gotten in the K790a, and in this day and age, I can't imagine a phone without bluetooth. 
  • Everything else…

And there you have it. I'll be placing 20 dollars a week into an envelope, and in 25 weeks, I'll be buying one of these.

June or bust!