The new iPhone is getting released tomorrow and it is generating quite a bit of buzz around the blogosphere. What has people talking far more than the faster speeds of the 3G networks are the opening up of it to 3rd party applications and location-based capabilities with it's built-in GPS. The downsides are shorter battery life and hidden costs. Overall, it looks like Apple has another winner on their hands.
Some of the more interesting applications available for the new iPhone include:
- Urbanspoon: "Shake the phone, and it randomly displays the name of a good restaurant nearby, using the iPhone’s G.P.S. and motion sensor."
- BookShelf: An eBook reader that can read Mobipocket, Plucker, and HTML, among other formats.
- Movies: A program that will give you movie showtimes based on GPS data of where you are and will even let you purchase movie tickets immediately online.
- Friend Book: Shake the phone and send contacts from one iPhone to another.
- Evernote: A note-taking program I've written about before that allows you to synch up notes between your PC, the Internet, your mobile phone, and more.
- Pandora: Stream live music over through your iPhone.
- iTunes Remote: Turns your iPhone into an incredible remote control for your iTunes software on your local network -- either Windows or OS X.
So many cool programs being released, the Apps Store may cost you more than your phone! But don't worry, there's also some good free software available too.
Lifehacker has a great round-up comparing the pros and cons of the new iPhone software vs. an unlocked phone.
I will wait and hear what the first purchasers have to say, but am expecting mostly glowing reviews. One of the things that makes me hesitant is the lack of a removable battery in conjunction with shorter battery life. If the software for this is as cool as I expect it to be, I could easily see myself constantly draining the batter on this thing. Let's hope Apple addresses this issue on the next version. (Allowing swappable batteries seems like the right approach.) Other things that still seem to be missing include cut and paste features and video recording capability. I'd also love to see Apple add an SD Card slot and possibly and infrared port as well. I also wish they'd make it more platform independent (not requiring any synchronization with a computer), similar to what Amazon has done with the Kindle. It would also be nice to see Apple make an interface (maybe a USB port?) to plug in additional peripherals such a as a keyboard, additional sensors, USB drives, digital cameras, etc. (It would be a deal-make for me if I could interface my AlphaSmart Neo into the iPhone somehow.)
Apple should also keep back-ups of all of your media online like what Amazon does with media files you purchase from them and the Kindle does with your books. Apple is behind the ball on this. (I've lost at least one video file and had to repurchase it through iTunes. If had purchased it on Amazon, I'd merely need to re-download it from my account. If my computer crashes with Amazon, I have nothing to worry about. With Apple, I have to repurchase my entire collection.)
Having said all of this, I am incredibly impressed with what Apple has done. If they keep making periodic upgrades and partnering with developers like this, they may be well on their way to dominating mobile computing into the foreseeable future. They could easily create a larger version of the iPhone to be used as an eBook reader/tablet PC (think of a slate running the same software with a screen twice as tall and twice as wide as the iPhone) or a small, laptop-like device that interfaces with the iPhone -- like what Palm tried to do with the Foleo. It seems like Apple is developing a scalable computing platform that is a pleasant alternative to traditional forms of computing and operating systems.
I see my attitude towards the iPhone starting to change, similarly to my changing attitude towards the Amazon Kindle. While I hope to see significant changes to the iPhone in future versions, what I'm reading about the iPhone 2.0 is almost pushing me over the tipping point to make want to buy one.
Unlike Megan McArdle, I'm not camping out at the Apple Store tonight. However, I do hope to get in to the Apple Store sometime next week after my Antitrust exam on Monday and see it in person. There should be quite a bit of feedback from purchasers by then too.