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Apple iPhone ReactionHave they really done it again?
Today, Apple Inc. unleashed the iPhone on the world. Consumer Electronics Nets Stephen Schleicher takes a look and offers his gut reaction to the announcement.
In a word?
Apple today unveiled the Apple iPhone that combines three three three apps in one. The first ingredient is the iPod, only not the iPod you have come to know and love. The iPod capabilities of the iPhone include a wide screen display we have all been expecting for quite some time. While it isn't true 16:9, it is more in line with traditional 4:3 screens instead of the squared off screen of the current iPod.
As we expected, everything in the new iPhone can be manipulated with the touch of a finger or two, all on the 3.5 inch screen. I have to tell you this looks amazing. The screen is 320x480 with a resolution of 160 pixels per inch. This is a much higher resolution than the current 100ppi apple has been using in their monitors.
The multi-touch navigation is also quite interesting. Using a single finger to select items, or a two finger ?pinching combo, you can zoom in or out of images and applications. The navigation is similar to the touchpad on the new Mac laptops.
The second ingredient of the new iPhone is of course the phone itself. Instead of punching numbers, you dial by pointing to a name in the address book. It also syncs all of the contact information from your contact list on your Mac or PC.
There is a neat looking function called visual voice mail that lets you see the list of all your messages and choose which ones you want to listen to in any order you want to listen to them.
For text messaging, or SMS, there is a touch sensitive QWERTY keyboard that uses predictive technology to anticipate the word you are tying as well as correct mistakes. It isnt something completely new, but ditching the actual keyboard in favor of a virtual one is a great idea.
The iPhone also has a built in 2-megapixel camera for taking photos and sending them family or friends. And because the iPhone has a level, the instant your turn the device on its side, the photo is displayed in landscape view. Thats really neat.
The third ingredient of the iPhone is the tight integration with the web. There is a rich HTML and email client built right in. In fact, the iPhone is running Mac OS X. Apple announced both Google and Yahoo are part of the iPhone too. Google Maps allows you to find out where you are and how to get somewhere, and since it is also a phone, you can call the place you are looking for without changing devices.
You can also use widgets to get weather information or access other applications quickly.
All of this, in one device, that is amazingly thin; only 11.6mm thick.
Okay, so you are sold and want to know if you should buy one right away. Are there any downsides? While I don't have one in my hand, there are a couple of things that send up the caution flag.
While it was a wise decision for Apple Inc. (note new name) to ditch the traditional internal hard drive, with all its moving parts and susceptibility to shock, in favor of a flash based drive, you are left with only two choices; 4GB or 8GB. For someone that has filled his 60GB iPod to the brim, the iPhone seems lacking in storage capacity. Better hope before you go on that long trip that you have exactly the music and movies you want to access. For Nano users, and those who sync their iPod to their computer often, this is not a big deal, but has me wanting something larger.
You cant buy the iPhone yet. It still has to go through FCC approval before being offered for sale in June. Even then, be prepared for a little sticker shock. The 4GB iPhone will sell for $499, while the 8GB will go for $599. Both include a two year contract with Cingular.
Yes Cingular. The company that claims to have the fewest dropped calls. Im a little disappointed by this portion of the announcement, mainly because Cingular is not a provider in my area. I was really hoping Apple would have made the iPhone ?carrier independent meaning you could buy the iPhone anywhere and have it work with any provider simply by swapping out a chip. Oh well?
There is also the whole battery issue that will need to be addressed. If you are only listening to music, there is 15 hours of battery life, but with movies, cell phone use, and web access that power time drops down to 5. This isn't an Apple problem, but a problem with the battery cells of today. Next year at this time, I expect fuel cells and other batteries to have a much longer life before needing a recharge.
The final thing I am curious about is the screen itself. With all the touching going on, how quickly will the screen get marked up with greasy finger prints and Cheeto stains? Also, how sensitive is the screen? Will it work through a protective device? Weve seen time and time again how quickly the iPod screens get nicked and scratched to the point where the experience isnt shiny unless you have a protective device made by companies like DLO and Griffin Technologies. If a protective screen disrupts the multi-touch feature, how worthwhile will the iPhone experience be?
While it looks super sweet, one should keep in mind this is a version 1.0 device, and first time buyers may have some remorse should problems or difficulties arise. While I may not be a Day One adopter of the iPhone, you can bet I will be keeping a close eye on the iPhone so I can buy it when the time is right.
Stephen Schleicher is a well known writer, visual effects artist and media guru! You can see more of Stephen at
www.majorspoilers.com and www.stephenschleicher.com
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