iOS and the iPhone 4

As I’m sure everyone knows by now, Apple finally announced the new iPhone yesterday. There are much better sources than here for all the details so, just for grins, I’ll point you at Gizmodo’s summary.

Some of the more interesting points:

  • The processor has been bumped up to be the same as the one in the iPad. That’s good, because it will help with sluggish web page loading, but also because the display has been increased in resolution to the point where it needs the horsepower just to paint it.
  • Speaking of the display, the resolution is now 960×640 which gives it >300 dpi resolution. To keep that in perspective, that’s better than a cheap laser printer. I’m not sure how they have pulled off changing the dpi without effecting the way applications look, but the claim is they’ve got it to work. Let’s hope it’s not the “2x” mode from the iPad. 😉
  • Really for me, the best new feature is an improved camera. I actually use the camera on my 3GS, but it’s absolutely terrible in low light conditions. The new one is supposed to be better resolution, better low light behavior, and it has an LED flash. I guess we’ll see. Any of the example pictures I’ve seen so far still seem to have a fair amount of noise in them.
  • They’ve also added another camera on the front of the display, for doing video conferencing. There’s an app called “Facetime” (ugh.) to support iPhone-to-iPhone calling, but for the life of me I can’t figure out why they didn’t just put iChat on it. If I could video conference with Deb on her Mac, I could actually imagine using it. Also, currently at least, it only supports calling over wifi. boo.

The device will, of course, be running the new version of the iPhone OS, which has been renamed “iOS”. I suspect this was in keeping with the rumours of the new Apple TV box, which is purported to be running this OS. They probably have dreams of running it on other devices that don’t look anything like phones.

The good news about iOS 4 is that will be a free upgrade for any iPhone/iPod that can run it, and should be available June 21. The bad news is that won’t be available for the iPad until “this fall”.

MacBook Air

So the Macworld keynote has come and gone, and I must say, there wasn’t really anything that thrilled me. A new NAS? I guess. But they’re awfully late to the table, and it’s not cheap. Movie rentals? Not in Canada. An upgrade to get mail on the Touch? Great! But wait, you want to charge for it, even though it’s going to be free on all new ones sold? Come on!

And then there’s the MacBook Air. Am I the only person who thinks this is way too expensive? It’s got only an 80Gig HD, no optical drive, no wired ethernet, only one USB port, no Firewire and a significantly slower processor than the other Apple laptops. I guess it’s nice that it comes with 2Gig of memory, but you’ll notice that they had to put 2Gig in at the factory, since there’s no way to upgrade it.

Compare it to a black MacBook… Same size screen and the same graphics chip. The MB is cheaper, but it has less memory, so let’s say we upgrade the memory to 2Gig and throw in the 250Gig HD — we still only come up to the price of the MBA. And the MB does have an optical drive, a firewire port, a second USB port and a 2.0GHz processor (vs. 1.6GHz on the MBA).

I’m sorry, but making it thin around the edges and backlighting the keyboard is not enough compensation for those limitations. Essentially, no one should buy the MacBook Air.

Update: OMFG, it doesn’t even have a user replaceable battery! WTF?

The iPod Touch is not an iPod.

I keep reading posts where I’m told that it’s ok for the iPod Touch to be missing many of the applications from the iPhone, because it really is just a digital music player.

To my mind, the thing that clearly puts the lie to that theory is the inclusion of the Safari web browser. As a music player, they could have included (with the built-in wifi) just the dedicated iTunes Store client, which would have brought them up to par with the Zune. Once they stepped over the line and included a full desktop grade web browsing client, they have clearly made something else. In fact, The iPod Touch is the first, true portable computer of the next generation. *

I’m not exaggerating here.

Apple has done what they almost always do: Looked at a hard problem, and found a thoughtful, elegant, effective solution. In this case, it was turning the wild west that is current web design into something that works on a small, keyboardless, information appliance. For the first time ever, I’m not tempted to look for my laptop to follow a link I heard on the radio — the iPod works just as well, and I’ve got it in my pocket.

In truth, I almost never plug headphones into my iPod. I’ll admit to watching on it while waiting to pick up a pizza, but in general I just use it as a conduit to the web.

So, it’s in that context, that I find it so painful that they didn’t include many of the absolutely obvious apps from the iPhone:

  • e-mail client
  • note taker **
  • google maps

And don’t get me started on the disabling of the ability to enter new calendar events.

Let’s be perfectly clear about this: This was not an attempt to keep the Touch true to its primary function; it was a transparent play to differentiate it from the iPhone and thereby maintain the iPhone’s value proposition.

Personally, I’m disappointed.

* Yes, the iPhone fits that category too.
** I’m reduced to using the notes field of a contact named “A A”. (ugh!)