So the mythical iPhone was unveiled yesterday and by all accounts, it is a revolutionary communications and portable computer device. The user interface alone is light years ahead of anything else on the market. And the technology behind it really looks phenomenal… for a phone.
But even with all that legendary RDF action in effect, my own reaction is surprisingly lukewarm. Bias Alert!: I abhor the telephone in general and mostly use a cell phone for short calls to my wife. On most days, I don’t use the phone at all. So that aspect of the device is rather immaterial to me at this time. If I didn’t already have a cell phone, that feature would be a nice perk.
As a portable computing and communication device, the thing looks awesome. When I think of it as a portable computer the $499 price tag doesn’t seem as bad just a little bad, even though it’s not a “full computer,” being currently limited to the apps provided.
Constant web connectivity would be great for looking up info at any given moment, whether it’s looking up traffic while already on the road, settling disputes at the bar, or checking the Scrabble database of words.
The ability to live-blog an event with pictures is revolutionary.
Some questions though. Can it print? Will the device detect a bluetooth printer and allow me to print an email, text message, map or photo? Can I network with computers and other iPhones on the same LAN via WiFi? I know I can text message and send email, but can I type up quick reminders and notes and transfer them between computers. Can I copy files to it directly without having to email?
A GPS receiver plugged into the dock connector would be a killer app. And a PDF reader for ebooks would be, quote, da bomb.
Ironically though, the thing that bothers me about the iPhone, is its branding as an iPod successor. With its current storage capacity, the device takes us back five years, while trying to perform many more functions.
The iPod’s ability to hold mass quantities of songs (and now videos) while also being usable as a portable hard drive are the two greatest features of the iPod line (the full size models anyway). The iPhone minimizes those functions. The argument can be made that it’s impractical to listen to 30GB of music, but that’s not the point. The point is choice. I like being able to keep a large number of playlists synced up and ready to go, depending on my mood, at the push of a button. Alternately, it’s fun to press play and not know what I’m going to get.
Then there’s the fact that I use my iPod to cart large files between home and the office as well as store copies of projects I’m working on so I can pick up from whatever computer I may be near.
And 4GB is laughably small when thinking about full-length movies and TV shows.
So that aspect of the iPhone leaves me non-plussed.
However, I tend to agree that the concept of the iPod proper maybe near the end of its evolution. The form factor seems to be at the limit of what it can do with the only potential improvements being increases in hard drive size.
Now if the iPhone can stream music to an Airport Express, then we might talk. Which leads to another thought: an iPod HiFi with built-in 802.11 wireless, WiFiHiFi anyone?, to receive music from an iPhone or any wireless equipped computer with iTunes. That would be rad.
Until then, I think the 80 gigs in my pocket will do just fine.