A technology blog for The Economist Group IT team

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Macworld - the iPhone 

A widescreen iPod, a phone and a revolutionary internet connectivity device. All in one - the iPhone (using Steve Jobs words there).

"It is smarter and easier to use that anything out there right now."

The keyboard will be a "soft" one one a big screen that you use your finger to drive. It will run OS X. Now, Microsoft have gone down this route, but not on their own hardware.

It will sync via iTunes.

From a design point of view, it has a 3.5" screen (diagonal) and is 11.6mm thin. It has only one button on the front - a home button. It also has an accelerometer built in so that it knows whether to display in landscape or portrait, for example. Plus a proximity sensor (so that it can respond appropriately when you have it close to your ear, for example), and a light sensor.

The iPod works through gestures and taps on the screen and Jobs obviously had had some practice as he used it without problem, but intuitively it looks like it might be fiddly. As an iPod it looks better than any before.

The phone "will make using the contacts really easy", is quad band with wi-fi and Bluetooth plus a 2 megapixel camera.

Jobs showed how easy it was to conference callers in. The voicemail feature shown allowed access to all waiting messages via a list rather than in sequential order but he hinted that this needed some additional service from the service provider.

It looked really impressive as a phone.

For internet connectivity it has an HTML e-mail client, Safari, Google Maps, widgets and will switch seamlessly to wi-fi when a service is detected (some caveats here, surely). For the e-mail service Yahoo! will push e-mail to the iPhone (as a Blackberry does) for free.

Safari load a complete picture of a page on the screen and you can easily zoom in as you need to (my Nokia N73 kinda does this now).

I suppose a question might be how open the device will be for third party apps.

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I wonder how the well the accelerometer will actually work. I have one of those fancy mercury switch type things in my canon ixus/powershot 750 and you can confuse the hell out of it. Will it work in zero g? Will the accelerometer tell the camera which way it's facing to fill in the exif information correctly so that image processors know whether the image is on it's side for display. Flickr is clever with this as are some bits of presentation software.
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