January 10, 2007

"It feels amazing in your hand... It’s so thin, and the rounded stainless-steel edges are so smooth..."

Gushes David Pogue over the new, instantly beloved iPhone, which he's had a chance to play with. (TimesSelect link.) Are you, like me, now looking at the ads for all the supposedly amazing and cool other phone devices and thinking: Oh, that's so sad. They didn't know what was about to overwhelm them.

More from Pogue:
Typing is difficult. The letter keys are just pictures on the glass screen, so of course there’s no tactile feedback.
I guess we'll all have to go back to the old two-finger style of typing. (I actually know a couple people who still type like that.) Or maybe one finger, if you hold the thing in one hand. Or is there some way to squeeze all your fingers onto the screen?
The Web browsing experience is incredible.
Ah! This is what I want!
You see the entire Web page on the iPhone’s screen. You double-tap any spot to zoom in. Or you use the two-fingered spread-apart gesture to “stretch” the image larger, or pinch your thumb and forefinger on the glass to zoom out again. The manipulation is seamless, smoothly animated—and useful. Using Google Maps to get you driving directions and maps, for example, is just light-years simpler and more powerful than on any other machine, thanks to this “rubber Web page” stretching technology.
If this thing is what it seems to be, I will happily leave the laptop at home and go about carrying next to nothing, stopping in cafés and restaurants, not giving a thought to whether there is WiFi.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

If this thing is what it seems to be, I will happily leave the laptop at home and go about carrying next to nothing, stopping in cafés and restaurants, not giving a thought to whether there is WiFi.

Which seems (to me at least) to be the whole point of this: miniaturization and simplification. Carry one object instead of three.

Add the cost of an i-Pod and a high-end cell phone together and i-phone pricing is well within range. Then consider that it could drastically cut down on perceived need to take that laptop with you and it becomes a veritable bargain, and a major convenience item.

Tibore said...

It's a pretty sweet phone, but iPoor, so iCan't.

tiggeril said...

I'm a Mac nut (getting a new MacBookPro soon! Well, refurbished, but it's new to me), and I have Cingular, so I'm pretty excited about this. I'm not even all that concerned about the cost of the phone, since that's about how much the RAZR cost when it first came out, and my brother and I picked up ours on a two-for-one deal a year or so later. I am a bit worried about the Cingular multimedia service rates for that, though. Their web-use rates are pretty high already, so I'm hoping iPhone users won't wind up paying through the nose twice over.

vbspurs said...

Uh... Wow!

Sorry, I just don't know what else to say after reading others' and my comments on the first thread.

My enthusiasm would be tempered with increasing joy if I thought I would be buying it one day soon.

And since I'm not, being the proud owner of a new Nokialicious mobile, set to last me at least 2 years, I can only sigh from afar.

Which Althousiana regular is thinking of buying it?

Raise your hand so I can lob spitballs at you.

Cheers,
Victoria

Anonymous said...

I've always managed to resist the siren call of the cult of Apple, but seeing these images -- and feature list! -- has made my resolve waver.

My only hope is the $600 price point. I can't imagine spending that much for a cell phone, no matter how fancy. I point to my 20 dollar .5 GB Mp3 player for proof. I will wait for the cheaper clones to come out in a year.

I will! *Sigh* Gonna be a long year.

dick said...

Funny thing is that what nobody I have read yet seems to say is the quality of the reception as a phone. That is the primary reason for its being, I assume, but I read all about all the other features but nobody seems to have used it to dial someone and talk to them.

Ricardo said...

Are they paying you to gush like this over the phone? Have they promised you a free phone? It reminds me of something they did on the Apprentice show a few seasons back, when they were hired to create "buzz" about a new product.

Geoff said...

Just some random thoughts:

1) How resilient is the screen? Can you throw it in your backpack/purse/briefcase and expect the screen to remain unscratched? Will my fingernails scratch it?

2) It seems to me that the likely market for this phone are a fraction of the people who already own iPods. Will the iPhone act as an upgrade of sorts from their iPod (they buy the iPhone instead of the next generation iPod)?

3) Will the phone make me a magnet for muggers (like the iPod)?

4) Finally, why not voice recognition for the dialing? Shouldn't I just be able to say "Dialing, 555, 5555" to actually call someone?

Or should I patent that last one?

Geoff said...

Just some random thoughts:

1) How resilient is the screen? Can you throw it in your backpack/purse/briefcase and expect the screen to remain unscratched? Will my fingernails scratch it?

2) It seems to me that the likely market for this phone are a fraction of the people who already own iPods. Will the iPhone act as an upgrade of sorts from their iPod (they buy the iPhone instead of the next generation iPod)?

3) Will the phone make me a magnet for muggers (like the iPod)?

4) Finally, why not voice recognition for the dialing? Shouldn't I just be able to say "Dialing, 555, 5555" to actually call someone?

Or should I patent that last one?

Art said...

According to Salon's review,

"Multi-touch seems to precisely read what your fingers mean when they touch the screen a certain way."

..it sounds as if the device contains embedded Segway technology.

This could raise drunk dialing to a whole new level. Hook up with a person for an affair you'll regret in the morning and post compromising photos of yourself to your website...in few inebriated strokes of the screen.

Hey said...

Hopefully iterations 2, 3, and 4 will be much better, since this is looking about as good as iPod v1, aka BAD but with an innovative interface that leads to great things.

The major problems are that it doesn't have a removable battery, as opposed to most cellphones but like all iPods; it's 2/2.5G, so very slow for wireless data; they talk about a long-term exclusive deal with Cingular/AT&T Wireless; it appears to have issues with typing, since there is no tactile response; it's of the same design and build that produces the scratched and smudged mp3 players, which is even more horrendous for an all screen multi-fundtion device; the camera seems underpowered (SE has had a 3.2 megapixel cameraphone/musicplayer... out since the summer that is high-speed).

I love the innovations with this, and hope to see the ideas spread, but it won't be moving 10M units as fast as Steve predicted (by 2008, when it's released to the US Q2-3 07 and Q4 for the rest of the world?). Phones that are announced 6 months ahead of time have a long track record of disappointing furiously, and a single carrier lock-in for more than 3 months usually leads to very bad things. Finally, WiFi eats batteries for breakfast, and that will be the only way to get good response out of the device (reading basic webpages on my EDGE BlackBerry is regarded by the ACLU as cruel and unusual punishment).

The phone itself is beautiful, especially the screen. I love the approach to the interface, and it is great to see Apple force a carrier to come on side for new ways of doing things (the visual voicemail technology has been around for a long time, but not adopted widely even by companies for their internal wireline voicemail, never mind at wireless carriers) which will hopefully by leveraged by other manufacturers to reduce carrier control over phones, features, and interfaces. Carrier control (and attempts to make money off of all sorts of "features") has been a major cause of slow innovation in some aspects of cell phones. Certain carriers are notorious for "crippling" the phones they sell to protect their internal pricing plans or high cost media "services".

Daryl Herbert said...

Hmmm... it uses OS X. Does that mean programs you load on the phone could play sound? Does that mean you could load a program other than iTunes to play music? So you could play OGG and WMA files? I doubt The Steve wants people buying iPhones and not using iTunes--would He allow it?

As far as tactile feedback is concerned: wait for haptics to come out. That's where the screen underneath can change how it "feels" (by raising or lowering some part of it). You will be able to feel the keys, and feel the key go down when you press it. That's a ways off into the future, but it will certainly be part of high-end screen-only interface devices... eventually.

Dave said...

Design is important.

Too few companies realize that and produce crap. Jobs is a genius.

Dave said...

Design is important.

Too few companies realize that and produce crap. Jobs is a genius. genius.

Anonymous said...

Me for one, Victoria. (He says while ducking behind the red settee.)

Maybe. Says a lot, perhaps as I've never bought anything made by Apple for myself because of their monopolist mentality.

Ann Althouse said...

Dick: Pogue writes " the sound quality was loud and clear."

Liam Colvin said...

1. No way to switch batteries if you deplete it.
2. Battery can deplete in as little as 2 hours.
3. Most reviewers are looking at web connection via WiFi. The device only supports EDGE speeds via packet cellular service.
4. EDGE is generally limited to less than 100 Kb/sec vs. 11 Mb/sec for WiFi. This will radically impact perceived browsing performance.
5. Extremely limited software addons. Apple is notorious for this.
6. No corporate email system support. Pop3 and Imap4 only. No Exchange or Notes support.
7. I've been using Smartphones and Blackberrys for years. Trust me, you'll miss those keyboards and hard keys.

Summation:
Over priced, slow, limited email support, softkeys only, and Apple proprietary technology. This is a fashion slave iPod follow-on that happens to make phone calls.

Hatcher said...

Call me conservative. Call me a Luddite. Call me a jerk... whatever.

I absolutely see no need to try to wrap all of life's conveniences into a single gadget so miniaturized that you need to zoom in to see what you're doing or to type with one or two fingers.

I carry a 3-oz. phone. It has a camera which I rarely use and web functions which I never use.

I also carry a 2.2-lb. sub-laptop (Panasonic R5) that has a keyboard big enough for my average-large fingers to touch-type at around 60 wpm. (Slower than on a full-size keyboard, but hey, some sacrifice is okay, I guess.)

I can put my video viewing pleasures on hold for an hour or two if I happen to be out of pocket when something breaks. I don't need to squint at a 3- or 4-inch screen.

Iphone is certainly 'convergence', but it's convergence without utility.

Any anyway, Apple lost me at "Lisa"

Ann Althouse said...

Ricardo said..."Are they paying you to gush like this over the phone? Have they promised you a free phone? It reminds me of something they did on the Apprentice show a few seasons back, when they were hired to create "buzz" about a new product."

I would disclose any information like that. If I'm writing about something and there's some kind of freebie or paid ad involved, I would say so. I don't think there is anything wrong with accepting a review copy of something, though I have rejected offers of things that were conditioned on a promise to review. Well, it was something I didn't especially want. (A beanbag chair.) If Apple offered me the iPhone on condition that I write about it, I'd say yes. And I'd disclose.

The fact is, I just love Apple. I've been using Apple products since 1985, and I'm a big devotee. You should factor that in. This product is the sort of thing that I knew I needed, but resisted buying until Apple made one!

SteveR said...

You might have to wait until Cisco offers you an iPhone, since they own the name.

Cedarford said...

Sounds like an instant status symbol.

Should sell well, despite the faults the technogeeks properly illustrate. All flaws mean little to those with the money that see the attractiveness of design, function, usefulness, likely envy of others - and simply want one.

It also serves as another step forward in the "enhancement" of the single human being....now moving into an era of the old scifi "cybernetics" sans implants for now...able to sent out and retrieve all info they want from a very small "addition" onto their persons, able to record events, and entertain themselves in the process.

The ramifications are coming fast.Most societal functions that once depended on aggregating people together can now occur disaggregated as disbursed people.

The cell phone and computer's impact can be illustrated in many ways, but my eyes were really opened by conflict.

Our military saw this coming and has talked for years about "An Army of One" with each person able to grasp the nature of the battlefield...but it was the Islamic radicals that 1st put it into practice. In Iraq, our troops are often made into hamburger by insurgents they cannot see disbursed in crowds and buildings that can scout enemy Americans, set up ambushes, set off IEDs from miles away based on text message from an 8-year old lookout, then hit "conference" and have a swarm of fighters spread out in different locations simultaneously move to a single point of attack until a "disperse command" is given by another lookout 9 km away listening to martyr tapes on his i-pod, spotting forces moving in.

The French riot police 2 years ago learned the whole strategy of disbursing a riot by disbursing the crown is now history. Cell phones, text messages, GPS rally points were all used to network against the cops and move faster than the cops.

The i-phone. Maps, GPS, ability to instantly retrieve the latest instructions from Jihadi cell leaders, to trigger bombs, watch the latest beheading. Hopefully get a video or pictures from an infidel slaughter that can be beamed to millions of other Jihadis globally within minutes of the attack..All while listening to religious sermons and able to call home to see what's for dinner once the infidel is killed.

Every Jihadi will want an i-phone. Every Jihadi without one will hope Apple and knock-offs lower the price.

Anonymous said...

SteveR - Cisco Sues Apple Over Use of IPhone Name

That didn't take long...

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Liam! A great run-down of the shortcomings. Looks like I probably won't have to hide from Victoria's spitballs after all ;-)

Revenant said...

Design is important. Too few companies realize that and produce crap. Jobs is a genius. genius.

Well, the "form over function" vs "function over form" debate has been raging for thousands of years. Apple has definitely staked out a dominant position among those who value the former, which is a testament to Job's genius as a marketer.

But personally, I'm a "function over form" guy. I bought an MP3 player for half the cost of an iPod that doesn't have all the DRM crap associated with it. It isn't as pretty, but... um... I bought it to listen to it, not stare at it.

in_the_middle said...

Liam: Have you tried the phone? Nuff said.

I don't think anyone can really babble one way or another until the thing comes out. One thing is for sure, though: Apple gets and deserves every bit of buzz because it's products have proven to be successful due to the fact they wait to look at all the problems of something, then solve them.

A company that can come in after years of Treo, Moto, Crackberry mishaps and ugly form factors and blow their buzz out of the water? yeah, poo-poo all you want, people, it's a fact: Design DOES warrant attention.

As for people crying about DRM and that somehow Apple should allow you to load all your own software onto it, I don't recall this functionality being available in ANY other smart phone and pretty much not ANY other computer OS.

You don't like the OS, you don't buy. It's that simple. You don't cry about being limited because it doesn't fit every need you suppose you'll want. IT's like complaining about chocolate because it's not vanilla enough for you.

Again: Version 1 product. Won't be perfect. But it will likely change the industry. And everyone, even the scoffers who post here about how proud they are to own brick MP3 players, will benefit.

vbspurs said...

Looks like I probably won't have to hide from Victoria's spitballs after all ;-)

iLoog. ;)

Cheers,
Victoria

michael a litscher said...

Hatcher: Iphone is certainly 'convergence', but it's convergence without utility.

Depends on how much of a nerd you are.

I like to ride my bicycle and listen to my iPod nano during the trip. I also take along a cell phone, just in case. I usually stop for coffee, have a cigarette, and I catch up on the day's news using the built-in browser on my Treo at speeds eclipsed by dial-up modems.

So for me:
1) Playing music during my bicycle rides
2) Allowing me to surf and email off of the coffee shop's free wifi
3) Providing cellular voice and data service
4) Built on a UNIX operating system, thus giving me access to UNIX tools such as ssh, vnc, ftp, and sftp

And all in a package small enough to strap to my arm, or fit in my pocket?

Maybe it's be too much to ask, but if I could get Apache, PHP, and MySQL running on the damned thing, I'd have a server in my pocket. That should give any geek a fat pipe.

Liam Colvin said...

in_the_middle: No, I have not used the phone. I have used a large number of mobile phones, PDA's, Pocket PC's, etc. I have used soft key text entry systems (quite a few) and have owned tablet PC's as well. I also beta test mobile phones.

I am familiar with what they have done on the iPhone, and am quite impressed with the industrial design (very nice) as I am of all Apple products recently.

It's still a toy, however. It is clearly a 1.0 device as you point out, and may very well mutate in future versions to something that is more useful than this.

This is something of a hail Mary from Jobs, who's first stab (the horrible ROKER phone)was a tacit failure. Apple is so far behind the ball on this technology that it puzzles me.

Mobile devices have been one of Apples real failings. The Newton, the ROKER, no tablet computer, and now the iPhone. All technologies that should have been well within Apple's design grasp, andy yet all they've been able to succesfully market is a glorfied series of MP3 player.

I keep waiting for Apple to actually come out with something original.

Abraham said...

Shouldn't I just be able to say Dialing, 555, 5555

I've been able to do that on my Motorola phone for quite some time, except the command is "Call", not "Dialing," and I can say either a name or a phone number. So I think your patent application will be rejected.

Hey said...

in_the_middle: Crackberry mishaps? Seriously, if I can turn a mishap into a $25B company, I'll endeavour to produce mishap after mishap.

RIMM got where they are by amazing UI, form factor, ergonomics, software, and incredible innovation. They came up with the thumb-board concept to get near real-keyboard speeds out of a mobile device's input method.

There's a difference between elegance and beauty. RIMM has kept a laser focus on elegance while trying to improve on the beauty and expand into consumer markets that aren't as text heavy. Apple has always been about beauty, but not always elegant. They've got their hits and misses, and for a long time they completely ignored utility (hence their 2% share of PCs).

iPhone is beautiful, and combines a number of things in new ways. I doubt it's elegance, especially for serious text input at lawyer/banker/consultant levels, and it's utility in v1 is sorely lacking.

Let's not disparage the competition, especially those that have been working on very different problems for very different customers. I'd especially discourage these ad hominems when you know and understand so little about the subject at hand.

Revenant said...

I don't get Jobs' claim that it is difficult to make calls from a normal cellphone. I haven't even bothered setting any any of my speed-dial or voice-dial numbers because it takes me all of a second and a half to hit the menu button, first letter of the person's name, and pick it from the menu. I can do the whole thing with one hand using my thumb.

That's hard? I expend more effort putting on my shoes in the morning. That doesn't make me wish I had an iShoe.

Revenant said...

As for people crying about DRM and that somehow Apple should allow you to load all your own software onto it, I don't recall this functionality being available in ANY other smart phone and pretty much not ANY other computer OS.

If you "don't recall" that functionality being available on other smartphones then you're simply ignorant of the market. The Treo and pretty much everything that uses Windows Mobile lets you use your own applications. And, of course, most Mp3 players let you use your own files instead of renting the music from Apple.

I'm simply skeptical of relying on Apple for everything, since the company has been a miserable failure at everything outside of multimedia applications.

Daryl Herbert said...

So my two big concerns (availability of 3rd-party apps and battery life) turn out to be well-founded.

For simple things like web browsing, phone calls, calendaring, listening to music, etc., lack of 3rd-party apps should not be a problem.

What we really need is a standardized recharging interface for mobile devices, so you can go into a Starbucks and plug in whatever gizmo you have.