January 09, 2007
Now we know what all those patents were about
We've got 6 months to chew on Apple's new iPhone, and there's still quite a bit that's unknown: How Cingular will bill for data, the battery's standby life, and about 100 different things about the phone software. Here's a couple quick nuggets:
I suspect the low contrast, no-container interface (look at the Safari screen shot image here for an example: The forward and back arrows sit directly in the navbar, without a containing rectangle, like Safari today) will appear on the Mac, maybe as soon as Leopard.
Nobody seems to have any details about the phone running “OS X.” You can bet every Mac developer is working any available angle to find out more. I've seen one report that says it's a closed ecosystem and Apple's not even naming the processor (Update: make that two reports). Even if it is “OS X,” it's not OS X as we think of it -- you wouldn't be able to go buy FileMaker and run it on the phone. It's possible there's a super-secret version of Interface Builder and a compiler for the iPhone architecture running around in Cupertino, and Mac developers will have to redesign in the new IB and recompile for the new architecture. It will be really interesting to see how the “desktop class iPhoto, iTunes, and Safari” differ from the real thing. It may just be that, because Apple defines OS X, this phone runs OS X by definition, and the applications on the box are all it has or ever will have. If Microsoft can label every OS they sell as Windows, Apple can have three different OS X's (OS X, Server, and iPhone).
When Jobs said the company was releasing 3 new devices, in one package, he really said a mouthful. The iPhone represents the most profitable, but by no means the only, combination of the widescreen, the touch pad, the phone, the iPod, and OS X Micro. Drop the phone, and you've got the widescreen video iPod most folks were expecting today. Drop the phone, add a keyboard, and you've got the Mac equivalent of a Pocket PC, only much cooler: it could include the multitouch interface and other touch screen goodness.
I suspect the reason this was released as a single product, instead of a product line, is the continued success and profitability of the iPod. There are only two price points ($399, $449) between the current video iPod and the low-end iPhone, so to introduce an iPod Widescreen at $449, by dropping the radios from the iPhone, would cannibalize iPhone wireless revenue (and I'm sure Apple gets a taste of that), when Apple is confident they'll continue to sell as many video iPods and as many iPhones as they can turn out. If sales don't stack up, we'll see new combinations of the iPhone package sooner than otherwise.
Personally, I find the price high for a phone, and have never liked Cingular's data pricing. On the other hand, my previous phone lust object was the Nokia E61, which is available unlocked for between $375 and $450. Given the way the iPhone makes previous phones look like they have a crank, that may be a fair premium.
There are almost 2,000 (exactly 1984 at the moment, appropriately enough) photos tagged iPhone at Flickr tonight.
October 17, 2003
More reasons I love my phone
My phone is just getting better and better. I have the Nokia 3650, with service through T-Mobile, and recommend it highly.
On a recent business trip, I used the phone's built-in mail client to read my personal and work e-mails (no spam filter, however). My car is in the shop right now, so I'm entertaining myself on the train with the web browser. Here's an example of how well that can work on the small screen:
Yesterday, while I was waiting to be picked up from the MARTA station, I Googled a number of car dealers and called to check availability of the new Prius, one of the cars I'm considering.
October 03, 2003
No-cat dialup (apologies to Einstein)
Rael Dornfest provides a good guide to using the 3650's modem via Bluetooth. I had been using directions I found elsewhere, but I don't think they were using the data connection correctly. I think Rael's way is a bit faster.
On a recent work trip to Boston, I was able to grab my miniBook out of my bag and check e-mail while my boss checked into his hotel, without fishing for cables, or even removing my phone from its bag. The browser has trouble with some pages, but does a better job on weblogs than the Sidekick browser, and color photos render beautifully. After Dany Heatley crashed his Ferrari the other day, I checked out the story on ajc.com with my phone, and the photos were very clear.
I've also opened up the phone and cut the missing speaker holes in the back. Some of the 3650s have shipped without the three triangular holes about an inch below the top edge; only the outline where the holes should be is there. DON'T TRY TO CUT THE HOLES FROM THE OUTSIDE, as there's a speaker behind the case there.
September 06, 2003
The tests below were from my Nokia 3650 using Kablog, which is available for Symbian phones (the Nokia 3650, 7650, N-Gage, Sony Ericsson P800, T610, and others), Palm OS 3.5 or above, some Nextel and Sprint phones, RIM Blackberries, and anything else on this page.
The top test below was from Kablog's new 2.0b2 release, which adds direct support for the onboard camera, although it looks like some quality is lost by not using Nokia's capture and image utility.
I've also tried BlogPlanet, but have been unable to get it to work with this weblog. As far as I can see, scanning the Apache log files, it never even tickles the site. It also never asks me which access point I'm using for internet access, which almost every other net-aware program does.
Ideally, someone will come up with a way to include photos you've already taken, since you frequently don't know if something is blogworthy until you have the picture.
August 24, 2003
Nokia 3650 Update
I had a few problems with my phone recently, which took me far too long to figure out, so here are a couple of pointers.
iSync - I still haven't been able to get the iCal integration hack to work successfully. I hope an update to iSync or iCal will address this. I also had iSync contacts synchronization stop working, for no apparent reason. I wondered if it could have been new software I had installed, either on the phone or the Mac, or a failed Bluetooth or iSync upgrade. I tried deleting my prefs files, clearing the contacts on my phone, recreating my phone in the Bluetooth control panel. You name it, I tried it. Except for, well, reading the manual. Apple has a very useful iSync support page that gave me the answer as soon as I looked there. Turns out I had turned on my personal firewall on the miniBook and it conflicts with iSync (although I'm not entirely sure why).
Romeo - One of my biggest (heck, only) regrets about the 3650 was that it didn't support Salling Software's Salling Clicker, which lets you use your phone as a remote control and personal proxy (your computer uses the presence of your phone to determine your presence or absence). I assumed that the popularity of the 3650 and the positive reviews of Salling Clicker would address the problem soon enough. Arboreal Software did just that, releasing a new version of Romeo, which, in conjunction with Veta Universal running on your phone, fully supports the 3650. There's a growing list of plug-ins for Romeo, and it's all driven by AppleScript, so it shouldn't be too hard to scratch your own itch, if you have one. Veta Universal is $8, and Romeo is free.
mReader - Browsing on the phone is still a bit of a pain. It sure would be nice to be able to review my favorite RSS files without the graphical overhead of a browser. You got it! Mark Allanson's mReader is a Symbian-native newsreader. It's a minimal implementation (you can't open links in a browser, for instance), but jeez, it's running on a PHONE, for pete's sake. Here are a few screen shots:
Update (Monday 9:10 a.m.) -- I changed the pictures to reflect the new release of mReader, which among other improvements, is starting to grow an interface. Very nice.
It also directly imported my subscriptions in OPML format as exported from NetNewsWire without a hitch. It only handles 50 feeds, so I need to prune some inactive subscriptions and reload. mReader is free.
Case - I picked up a custom Krusell case from Razzy.com. (The phone requires a custom case so it will have a hole in the back for the camera). It shipped quickly, seems like a nice case, and they included a shorter belt clip than standard so that the clip doesn't block the camera lens. My only complaint is that the size of the display pretty much forces the clear cover to stick to it. I may look at putting another clear layer in there, something like a WriteRight screen cover cut to fit, to keep the case window from sticking to the display.
August 17, 2003
Nokia 3650: Da bomb
I've been using my new Nokia 3650 for more than a week now, and am very happy with it.
If the SonyEricsson P800 is currently God's phone, then the 3650 clearly answers the question, "WWJD?", or "What would Jesus dial?"
Compared to my previous phones, the most notable new feature is the camera, so let's look at it first.
Here's a full resolution, highest quality shot, taken by Sophie, who may turn out to be the family's best photographer (sorry for the subject matter). Update: I've scaled it down a bit to fit on the page. Click through for the full-size image:
The camera also features a portrait mode, which takes 80 x 96 thumbnails you can easily attach to your contacts, so their face shows up when they call. Here's an example of one of them (again, sorry for the subject matter):
I haven't carried my Sidekick since I got the phone, but it's a significantly different tool. Even with the Nokia's excellent T9 predictive text input (which lets me punch in 7-4-2-8-8-7-3, and have the phone suggest I mean 'picture'), it's significantly faster to enter text through the Sidekick's thumb board.
The Sidekick's e-mail support is superior out of the box, as well. T-Mobile's service for the 3650 doesn't include an e-mail address, and their preferred method for subscribers to view e-mail is through a somewhat clunky WAP service, with SMS text messages alerting you to new e-mails. Update: I'm wrong about this: I tested it with a tmail address, like the Sidekick, but they now use PhoneNumber@tmomail.net as the phone's e-mail address, and you can send a full length e-mail to the phone. I like the SMS alert enough to use it on my work e-mail address (which is relatively spam-free), but the level of spam I get, and the fact that excessive (more than 300 monthly) SMS messages are charged, has led me to leave my personal e-mail account out of the mix, for now at least. On the other hand, the Nokia has terrific support for outbound e-mail, and the built-in camera means it's easy to quickly generate a reasonably high-quality snapshot and send it to the picture's subject or someone else.
The calendar, on the other hand, isn't officially supported with iCal (yet?). There's a hack to enable the phone, but in my experience, it brought all the calendar data down, but then won't synchronize, giving a NSCFCalendar error. Since I got the phone, I've been entering appointments on the phone, since I don't use iCal that frequently. I'm sure that will change when iSync completely supports the phone.
As a phone, the 3650 excels. Reception is significantly better than my Sidekick, and at least on par with my old SprintPCS Motorola TimePort. The sound quality is excellent, there's a speakerphone and voice dialing, and a hands-free headset was included with my phone.
I'm paying for T-Mobile's wireless data option, which is $19.99/month for unlimited data access. I've used the phone as a modem, but I'm not sure if I was taking advantage of GPRS or not. T-Mobile offers a Windows application that hides the settings for GPRS, and I'll set it up on a PC and duplicate its settings before my first road trip with the phone.
One of the things I like best about the phone is that it's part of a well-supported software platform, Symbian. That means that there's a huge library of software available for the phone, from GameBoy emulators to Remote Desktop Control software to control your PC.