Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Apple iPhone: Phone or PDA?

Well, all the guessing and waiting has paid off: Steve Jobs announced today in the Macworld Keynote that Apple will be releasing an iPhone in June of 2007. But as they went through the features (according to the live "play by play's" that I have read), it became painfully obvious that it was far more than just a phone, or even an iPod. It will be a computer in and of itself, allowing for WiFi and EDGE connections. That makes it a PDA, at least in my book. Don't believe me? Check out the features as shown by the Apple website:

Touch Screen
As far as I know, there isn't a multi-touch screen out there for a phone. There are some that requires a stylus, but nothing that is meant to work with your own finger, at least not well. The screen is also well designed, with 160 dpi resolution. That's much higher than any phone that I am aware of.

The OS
Yes, it's running Mac OS X Embedded, which means that the OS is robust, based on BSD, and basically has the same interface as the Dashboard (yay!). That is what really sold it for me.. You can build widgets for your iPhone, so software for the iPhone shouldn't be a problem at all! Look for some really cool widgets coming in the near future.

The interface is also intuitive, which means they integrated the Rosetta software from Newton into the QWERTY keyboard interface.. It's really cool based on the demo's available.

Yes, the personal information management software fully integrates with iCal and Address Book. Also, Mail has full functionality (still can use your Exchange server). There hasn't been any word on it yet, but with WiFi built in, I would be surprised if iCal would sync with the CalDAV server that Lepoard is due to release. That's good news for all Apple IT networks, now if iCal would just have native exchange support! Perhaps that's also coming down the pipe.

For those that have been following my public list of wants for an Apple PDA, I mentioned that I wanted a PDA that would use widgets. Well, I got my wish. But instead of having a Front Row interface, it has a Dashboard interface. Before I had time to get dissappointed, it became clear why. It takes a lot less time and effort to use the Dashboard rather than Front Row. And as it doesn't have a click-wheel, Front Row is completely obsolete.

The widgets that come with it are basically the same default widgets with Tiger, with the exception of Google Maps, and the Phone application. Yes, the phone is actually an afterthought, it seems. The design is stressing the usability of the device as a device, not a phone with add-ons. That's what I really like about it.

A Keyboard!
Yes, there is a software keyboard built into the device. More and more, this is looking like a strong candidate for a distance learning student that want's to be able to truly be mobile without taking a huge laptop with them. Why? Because it can be used as such, doesn't require a stylus, and is smaller than my old NEC Pocket PC.

My 2 Cents
I thought that I wanted to get another 12" laptop, but now I don't think I need one. I'll probably get a nice iMac like my wife's, stick with my PowerBook as I need it, but use the Phone for all my day to day applications. That can be done with this device. The expansion of mobile device concept in this direction is incredible.. THis is what I have been looking for in a mobile device. Ease of use (Pocket PC didn't have it), simple application development (widgets), and multiple connection options means this is the device that I would want in my pocket.

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