Charlie sorrel of wired news reports on nine different ways that you could pimp up your latest toy, the iPhone. I am sure there are many more, given the fact that people from all over the world are developing applications and products to work with iPhone.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
In one of my older articles, (iPhone and the business user) I had discussed the importance of iPhone's adoption by business users. Now, after a month since the iPhone launch, businesses are still skeptical about iPhone's prospects in business. Thats not all , some CIO's are even going to the extent of dismissing iPhone as a serious business phone. Cade metz of Channel register reports on a discussion with four CIOs from across the spectrum of business : Google, Hasbro, Levi strauss and McKeeson and comes up with a unanymous answer : "iPhone is not for business". That might be a little too early, I think.
I stumbled upon a interesting article from BBC news website about a taiwanese company, HTC. It launched its touch screen phone a month before iPhone was launched with surprisingly similar features (please do play the video in the BBC page). It is only natural to wonder if some of the features were copied from the iPhone or if the iPhone's features were copied from the HTC. Readers might remember my previous post about apple's touch phone prototypes that go back as early as 1984. So, I feel that we should assume that both these developments happened independently.
Whatever be the case, it does seem that touchscreen smart phones and intelligent user interfaces is the direction in which future phones will move in. As Victor hugo put it, "No army on the face of the world can withstand the strength of an idea whose time has come".
Monday, July 23, 2007
I had written previously about the concerns around the iPhone batteries. This is obviously one of the hottest debated topics in the Mac circles. Taking this debate to a streatch, contributors of the PC magazine (For lack of better things to do) have made a calculator to estimate accurately (?!) when your iphone batteries are likely to die out. Here it is:
Sunday, July 22, 2007
In United states and the rest of the world, people are crying foul over apple's decision to tie in with AT&T for the iPhone. Whether its the customers who do not want to switch over to AT&T because of their existing contractual obligations or it is the operators who want to contain the alarming churn rates, they say the same thing - "free the iphone". What most people are missing out here is the way apple chooses to position itself in the marketplace.
John Naisbitt, authour of Megatrends and Re-inventing the corporation, says, "With luxury goods, here is a paradox: Exclusivity is the name of the game, and if these goods become common and less costly, they lose their exclusivity - and their market," So, in essense, from a strategy point of view, it is in the best interest of apple to maintain the exclusivity.
On of the raging controversies surrounding the iphone's hardware design decisions is the iPhone's battery. As you are aware, iphone's batteries are soldered onto the main PCB and are not meant to be changed. Customers are going to be concerned because of this fact. For one, heavy phone users are not going to like this as they would not like to get stranded if the onboard batterry dies down and they cannot get back on to their phones by swapping a charged stand by battery. Second, this is possibly going to cause maintenance problems as well. If the battery needs replacement, chances are, you might need to replace the entire iphone as there is no way to seperate out the battery. We all know what a pain that would be - considering that we need to do backups from the iphone onto our PCs and from our PCs back to the new iphones.
Ofcourse, we need not be concerned about the problems as the phone itself is quite new and in all possibility, the battery should work fine for a year or so. After that? don't look at me. Apple has to provide an asnwer. It better be a good one since it has one whole year to think of one.
If you are a iPhone / iPod newbie, one of the first things that you would to get done is to sync your iPhone / ipod with your music collection. This article by Tazmanian (Previously mistakenly put as Chris pearson) explains the same in simple english. A highly recommended read for newbies and heavy users alike.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Has iPhone been unlocked? "Yes", this company claims. Taking this claim one step further, this company has posted the unlocked iPhone for sale in its website. The price, however, is unlisted and the site only has options for preordering it and is also willing to give price breaks for five orders or more. I wonder how many preorders it has recieved up to now. I am guessing thousands.
I cannot help but think that the whole thing is a marketing ploy to attract more visitors to its website. Whatever the case, the fact is that the listing is causing quite a few ripples across the world.
Joe Hudsco of MSNBC has posted a iphone feature wishlist. I hope he (we) gets it by christmas this year. I would also append the list with points from Tom Yager's list of iPhone flaws. I guess we might be a little too greedy here.
My guess is that Apple might provide some features as updates but is going to save most of it for the next version of iPhone. Apple, please prove me wrong!
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
When do you think the next version of iphone will be released? I am sure you will be surprised to know that it is going to be in September, hardly three months away from its first release. Though the news is still unsubstantiated, people from different sources are agreeing that iPhone 2.0 release is probably scheduled in september. The source of much of the speculation seems to come from a news article from Taiwan's Chinese-language Commercial Times magazine. It carried an article which said that Taiwan's Wintek had obtained the touch-screen panel orders for the second-gen iPhone. It is speculated that the second generation iphone will be priced between 249$ and 299$ and is probably meant for Non US markets.
The news item leaves several questions unanswered. Firstly, Will the next generation iphone be defeatured because of its substantially lower price? In case of a defeatured model, will it still be attractive enough to command a premium to make customers switch? Will it also be locked so that it can be used with only few networks? In case it is not locked and can be used as a normal GSM phone, does it not pose an oppurtunity for arbitrage in domestic market?
Tom Yager of infoworld test center has come up with extensive iPhone Pros and cons list after extensive testing.
I have formatted the list into Five sections to make it a little more organised.
- Visual Voicemail speeds through large voice mailbox, eases initial setup of greeting and PIN
- Substantial delay for new voice mail notification
- Extremely high-quality text
- Clever zoomed-in handling of HTML option lists
- Web apps cannot download, upload, or store data
- Web pages cannot be saved for offline viewing
- No Flash, Java, or native application support
- Yahoo "push" e-mail did not deliver immediately in tests
- Operation of interactive Web sites awkward
- No external mute button
- Slow rendering of zoomed HTML content
- No streaming audio/video support
- No full-screen view in browser; large button strip always present
- No edit-in-place in Settings; each line of text is a separate entry page
- No master inbox covering multiple mail accounts
- Chat substitute uses expensive SMS (Web alternatives available but don’t signal on incoming chat invite)
- Safari doesn't try to reformat Web page for convenient viewing (like Windows Mobile IE's one-column view)
- Incoming call smoothly fades out audio, fades back in after call ends
- Zoom, pan, and scroll gestures ease UI operation
- Text editor has BlackBerry-like shortcuts for contraction, plus near-miss dictionary
- Word, Excel, PDF document viewing built in (no editing); useful for file storage
- Cannot browse iPhone's folders by any means
- On-screen keyboard is large, opaque; obscures underlying interface
- No text select/copy/past
- No rich text editor
- Spelling errors are not flagged in text
- Cursor positioning inside editable text is difficult
- Vertical/horizontal scroll regions too narrow; trip underlying controls
- Feeling for home button can delete e-mail (trash button is bottom center of display)
- No file upload limits use of online document viewers
- No musical ring tones
- Fewer slideshow transition effects than video iPod
- Cannot download content for offline playback except through iTunes
- No Bonjour support for iTunes, Web sharing
- iPhone pairs with MacBook Pro Bluetooth, but offers no supported services
Hardware / Misc.Pros:
- Works with standard iPod charger, USB cord
- Buzzer motor powerful, silent
- Touchscreen imprecise; can't adjust for parallax (finger/screen offset)
- Proximity sensor did not answer calls in tests
- Extremely strong radio frequency interference
- Enclosed speaker is too weak for speakerphone and voice mail playback
- No VoIP support for Wi-Fi
- No A2DP (Bluetooth stereo) support
- Battery not user-replaceable
- Memory not swappable or expandable
- Quality of camera is comparatively poor; focus distance limited; no digital zoom; cannot capture video
- No voice-record capability; iPod add-on did not function
- No TV out
- Device does not operate in landscape mode in all applications
- Battery drains rapidly with Wi-Fi use; no transmit power setting
- Will not accept existing SIM card
- Not addressable as USB storage
- Phone audio quality subpar
- No over-the-air sync options
- No exposure control in camera, very slow shutter creates blurry images
- Headset jack not phone standard
- Two-year commitment required for activation
- No third-party software
Would anybody in thier right mind put thier iphone in a blender and get it reduced to dust?. Looks like somebody has. Check this one out.
It is amazing what people as marketing ideas. I am willing to bet that none of the company's other marketing ideas got so much attention as this one. This is what I call "oppurtunity obsession".
Monday, July 16, 2007
The iPhone AT&T tie up has upset quite a few people. For one, domestic users want it unlocked so that they can use it with other network carriers in the united states as they don't want to pay hefty fees for cancelling their existing contracts (It is estimated that users on average spend about 167$ to cancel their existing contracts to switch over to iPhone) Secondly, Other network operators are crying foul because they feel that the 5-year lock in period is unfair and they are initiating legal action to get the courts to rule on this issue. (Not surprising, considering that 50% of the iPhone buyers are switching over from other networks ). Adding to the heat are people from around the world who are irritated by the fact that they cannot get the iPhone (iPhone has only been released in US until now. Roll out plan around the globe is still very unclear.)
On one end, there is pressure on apple itself to make iPhone open to other networks. However, given the nature of deal with AT&T, apple is unlikely to do this. Besides, it makes make more economic sense for apple and AT&T to have it this way in order to extract maximum value from the customer.
Knowing that apple is not going to relent to any amount of pressure, Free press has initiated an online petition campaign addressed to the congress and FCC requesting to "free" the iPhone. My guess is that, this not going to go anywhere.
There is also a growing number of individual programmers and communities who are pooling in efforts to unlock the apple iPhone. Elizabeth Montalbano of IDG News Service, Singapore, reports on a UK based firm who is at the verge of unlocking the iPhone. If the company is successful in doing this, it would be interesting what the legal ramifications would be. As some readers may be aware, since November 27th 2006, the U.S. patent office has made it clear that cellphone unlocking is legal in US. However, restrictions remain in EU. Since the firm is a UK firm, it is unclear how the courts will rule, should a dispute arise.
Unlocking of the iPhone is also important from a totally totally viewpoint. For years, apple has been proclaiming superiority over windows and its many versions in security and robustness against virus attacks. If somebody doe succeed in successful in unlocking the iPhone, it would expose the vulnerability of the OSX.
One of the off-side of being an early adopter is that you have to deal with the bugs that come up with new software / new device. 'Why can't they come up with something that is without bugs?' You ask. You see, the problem is, however smart the design team is, it cannot possibly test a device or software for every possible eventuality. Compound this with the fact that the most sophisticated software is also the one that is most susceptible to failure as it has to interact with so many different elements. Devices are bound to have imperfections and iPhone is no exception.
A team of engineers at applehound fiddling around with the iPhone have released a list of 68 bugs . In case you purchased an apple iPhone, you don't need to feel like you purchased a lemon. Chances are, in course of your normal usage, you will never encounter any of these errors. Another good thing about this is that the bugs are all software related. This means that these bugs can be fixed by a simple firmware / software update through the Internet. It would have been much more difficult to resolve if it had been related to hardware.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
There can be no question about iphone's success with the consumers- the mass market. The evidence is out there everywhere. The real test of iphone's success, however, will be the adoption rate of business users. This segment of the market is important keeping in mind that they are the ones who will patronize the entire iphone ecosystem (the software add ons, accessories, and the lot). Strengthening of the iphone ecosystem is critical to success of future products that are going to be developed by Apple. More products can be developed using the same platform sharing many of the same features.
Studies of adoption rate of iphones in business cummunity is, therefore, of interest to many. On this note, Elina Malykhina of information week wrote an interesting article about signs of adoption on the iphone in the business cummunity. Though the article discussed issues faced by business people like inability to install third party software, it remained optimistic about iphone's prospects with the business community.
In a follow up article, William Gardner of information week reported on a usability survey conducted on iphone by Chicago-based usability consultancy User Centric, Inc. The major highlights of the usability survey are listed below:
Major strengths of the iPhone's user interface
- Participants found the Visual Voicemail feature to be intuitive and useful.
- Participants compared text entry using their iPhone and their previous phones (which used multi-tap for text entry). Overall, participants found that text entry was much easier on the touchscreen soft-keyboard of the iPhone compared to standard multi-tap text entry.
- Most participants used the landscape (horizontal) view while searching for a website (The New York Times.) The horizontal soft keyboard was definitely preferred over the vertical keyboard orientation.
- Selecting and playing a song using both the vertical and horizontal views was easy for participants. Participants also commented that the 'Cover Flow' navigation feature was a very engaging feature.
- Making an outgoing call with the iPhone was easy for all participants.
Participants also found that receiving a phone call on an iPhone while listening to music was seamless. They found the interruption of the music and transition to a call to be very smooth.
- Saving a number as a contact and recalling that contact for a phone call was straightforward.
- Answering a phone call while in SMS mode was also straightforward. Participants found it helpful to be taken immediately to their message after the call had concluded.
- Most participants found it easy to take a picture and email it from the iPhone.
Primary difficulties with the iPhone interface
- Participants uniformly found text entry SMS and email to be difficult. They were frustrated by the forced use the vertical keyboard and the lack of visibility for editing the middle of a word or sentence.
- Many participants found Google Maps difficult to use on the iPhone. They experienced issues with the fine-motor control required to pan accurately in different dimensions in Google Maps and predictably zoom in and out. It was unclear to participants how much they needed to adjust the size of their "pinch" gesture to zoom in and out with the control that they wanted.
- Participants were often frustrated with their Web browsing experience and hoped that this would improve dramatically with an upgrade in network capability. The lack of Flash and Java capabilities during Web browsing was considered a detriment to basic Web use.
- Finally, participants were surprised (and somewhat annoyed) to discover that horizontal text entry was available only in in the Safari browser.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Sure, Iphone is one of the coolest devices around. What makes it so cool? what does iphone burn down to, really?
I have spent several years working on reverse engineering machine tools. However complicated it is, a machine or a gadget usually always burns down to a few simple features that can be reconstructed equally well by alternate means. Let me try an attempt at breaking down what an iphone really is:
An iphone is an interesting combination of:
- Touch screen.
- Intelligent user interface.
- Visual voice mail.
- A music player.
- A tabbed web browser
- An interesting and intelligent keyboard interface and
- A Suite of sensors that faciliate intelligent use.
If you think about it, all these elements exist individually. What Apple has really done is to put together all these interesting features into one single device. (Ofcourse, that is a little disparaging of Apple, considering that nobody has ever done it before.)
Microsoft has been working on an interesting project called "the surface". The surface is basically a interesting user interface. Does it measure upto iphone? Not only that it does - it goes two or three generations ahead. I encourage readers to check it out. However, there are no plans as of new to use those features in mobile phones. However, if history is any indicator, we can expect some elements of the surface UI to be incorporated into windows mobile devices.
What about the rest of the features? I hear you ask. Looks like a few experts out there have been reading your minds. see the interesting links below.
Cara Garretson of NetworkWorld reports in PC world about a peculiar scam related to iphones. Apparently, when a user searches to buy iphones, the user is misdirected to a phony itunes store like website. The website records the users financial information. The article tells us that there are presently about 7500 affected computers affected by this bug. There are no remodies or cures specified in the article. Looks like apple, AT&T aren't the only ones who are making money out of this iphone buzz. Quite ingenious hoax, I must say.
Time to turn on the internet explorer's phising filters on, I suppose.
Edward C.Baig of USA today reports on a very interesting survey about apple iphone. A few points that jump out of the article.
- 40% of the people who bought iphone were first time apple customers.
- 35% of the people who bought an iphone payed 167$ or above to break thier existing contracts to switch over.
- On an average the iphone customer will be paying 35$ extra each month over thier previous subscription plans.
- The reasons that many people did not buy the iphone was because of it price. The average willing ness to pay looks to be around 180 $ (Why are we not surprised?).
So who is complaining? Except for the other network operators who lost thier customers, Looks like almost nobody is:
- 90% of the customers are either extremely happy or very happy about thier iphone. purchases.
We all like win-win-win don't we?
Given the closed eco system that surrounds apple iphone, iphone owners are dying to find out ways and means to get the best of thier iphone by some means or the other. Here are some links that might be helpful for such users:
Friday, July 13, 2007
At some level, I like wikipedia better than google when searching on a popular topic. Chances are, you will find more comprehensive info without having to go through many different search results. (No, Wikipedia is not paying me to say this.)
I was interested to find out what wikipedia had to say on iphone. (Note my use of singluar. With wikiepdia, I can never be sure whether I should use singluar or plural as any article could have been entirely authoured by a single person or many different contributors. New grammer rules need to be written, I guess.) It did have quite a lot to say. However, unfortunately, the article has been locked for editing because of vandalism. (I could not help but wonder who)
Every tech magazine around the world which is worth its salt has carried a review of the iphone in some form or the other. However, why read all these when you need only one or two comprehensive ones?
- The NY times review (For the technologically challenged people like me)
- The CNET magazine review (For advanced users who are bordering on geekiness but not quite there yet)
- The PC magazine review (For the insatiable geeks)
There are several philosophical reasons for the existence of this blog (besides making money using google adsense. hee.. hee...). You see, In the last few days Mankind and Womenkind have embarked on a new quest for knowledge. There is something rather peculiar about this quest that makes it rather unique in the history of mankind. Suddenly, people from all over the world and from all walks of life seem to have caught up with a frenzy. A frenzy that fringes on madness. The unsatiable thirst for knowledge for everything iphone. Is there no hope for redemption?
Fear not dear friends... God, who is all knowing and ever present, was well aware that such a situation would arise and would threaten mankind's useful pursuits. One score and six years ago, he created a man who could save this world from the path of sure distruction. The man , my friends, is me and my answer to mankinds quest is this blog. (okay, okay.. I know this is a little too much but what the heck?)