Archive for the ‘iphone’ Category

iPhone: the second generation is the first generation

March 9, 2008

When they write the final story on how Microsoft’s attempt to unseat RIM on mobile devices was foiled by the iPhone – and make no mistake, the plink of “pwned” was just heard all across Puget Sound – one overlooked facet will be the implied upgrade.

I replaced my Samsung Blackjack with an iPhone right around launch day, and when I did, I assumed that Apple would continue to improve my iPhone: that when I sync’d with iTunes, I would occasionally get new features, new applications, etc.

It’s not obvious why I thought that would happen. My Mac doesn’t get free upgrades. My iPod gets firmware updates occasionally, but they don’t add new features. Steve Jobs didn’t say anything, there were no press releases, legitimate leaked reports, or anything else. Oh, and one other thing: phones don’t upgrade. We’re used to them being hotfix-for-emergency-only, like your printer or your HDTV.

When I talked to others, they were sure of it too. They were waiting for the announcements of this or that new feature, and we all assumed that our phones would get it. Why did we all think our phones would be upgraded? Something “told” us that. Maybe it was the unconscious reaction to the iPod firmware update process inside iTunes; maybe it was a belief that Apple “got it”; maybe since this was more like a computer and computers get free upgrades… but they don’t. For some reason, we believed in an upgrade.

Well, we were right. Over the last nine months, we’ve seen minor improvements to a bunch of applications, new features like customizable home screens and web clips, and the rollout of the iTunes store. This week, Apple announced and made available the beta of the iPhone 2.0 software, with the features necessary to make the phone enterprise- and developer-ready. It seems reasonable to assume that the 6,8,10 million iPhone owners will have the same software as anybody who buys the phone one year later. For those who didn’t want to buy the iPhone because they wanted to wait until the “second generation,” well, it turns out that for the most part, the second generation is the first generation. (This is especially true since the hardware has proven to be quite reliable.)

Compare this with the Samsung Blackjack. The Blackjack released in November 2006 with Windows Mobile 5 (WM5); Microsoft had already pre-announced features of WM6 by then, and released WM6 in February 2007. (Wikipedia compares the versions; major differences included Office Mobile, Exchange address book support, & HTML email.) There were hundreds of threads at places like Howard Forums with people building hacked versions of WM6 for the Blackjack (and similar devices like the T-Mobile Dash and Motorola Q), speculating on when it would be available, which carriers would allow which versions of WM6 for which phones and when, etc. Microsoft and AT&T (the Blackjack carrier) said nothing for months. It took until January 2008 – 2008! – for the Blackjack to support WM6. In the interim, dozens of phones were released with WM6.

So basically, you buy a Windows Mobile phone, that’s the phone you have. They make the OS better, you probably have to buy a new phone (or just wait a long time). WM phones, like iPhone, are mini-computers with mini-OS’s – making them non-upgradeable as the default plan of record was just one of Microsoft’s mistakes. (It looks like WM6 added Windows Update, but we don’t know if that’s just for hotfixes or for actual improvements.)

Apple got this right – the iPhone is a living, breathing device, improved consistently. When inevitably that stops – market pressure, hardware limitations, or impunity – we will still have seen more during the first 12 months of this device than any previous mobile phone.

Facebook on iPhone – raising the bar for iPhone apps

August 15, 2007

I’ve played with the new version of Facebook for the iPhone today – it’s at http://iphone.facebook.com/, you can play with it from a regular browser – built by Joe Hewitt of Parakey/Facebook/iUI fame. More info at Mashable – the word Stunning is right-on.

This is the best example yet that there’s value to an iPhone-specific user experience (rather than just your mobile browser – which Facebook already did well – or the standard Safari experience). The best other innovations I’ve seen in this space – the start that Leaflets had, for example, though I haven’t seen anything come out of there for a while – aren’t really in the same league.

These screenshots don’t really do justice to the fluidity of the experience – instead of a new page load for every tap, there’s a screen wipe. Only the first page load takes what seems like any time at all, everything else is fast. The pages are beautiful:

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Updating status is one-click:

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Searching looks like the address book UI – looks like Joe didn’t share all of the iPhone interface mimicry just yet:

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Profiles are crisp:

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Through and through, the details are just right. It’s awe-inspiring work.

3G v. Edge Shootout

July 16, 2007

AnandTech uses the Samsung Blackjack (oh, that old thing, aka my phone until a week ago) and tests 3G v. EDGE, validating Apple’s claims about 3G chip size and speed.

One interesting note about the results that I wouldn’t have guessed – on the iPhone for email and browsing, wifi uses meaningfully less battery life than EDGE.