The iPhone 3G: Think Different…

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The new iPhone 3G has receive many rave reviews since its launch…

And rightly so.

It continues the elegant design cues of it’s predecessor, doubles the media memory to 16GB, adds higher speed network connectivity with 3G support, and packs in a GPS chip to location-enable all kinds of new applications.

But the hardware isn’t what makes the new iPhone 3G so special…

Bringing “touch computing” to the phone handset market was the revolutionary aspect of the original iPhone. To do that, Apple needed to invent an entirely new hardware platform. But with that core innovation now in place, the real heart of the iPhone family has become the software. The same way it is with the Mac.

And the new 2.0 software is clearly the heart of the iPhone 3G.

For this release, the new hardware just comes along for the ride…

Apple chose not to make the 2.0 software a “3G Exclusive” – it is available for the original iPhone as well. Not only that, but its available for free! And that is the beauty of committing to the iPhone. It isn’t static like most phones. It evolves and improves. Everyone that invested in the original iPhone over a year ago received a new phone last Friday.

They downloaded it off of iTunes…

With the 2.0 software architecture built from the ground up for professional applications, the new iPhone platform fulfills the promise of a true mobile computing platform (something never accomplished with Microsoft’s UltraMobile PC initiative). The integrated application store is a touch of genius, making the process of buying, installing, and updating software on the device as easy as buying a song on iTunes. And that simplicity – a hallmark of Apple products – will make the iPhone THE mobile computing device to develop for.

And as the Windows franchise has proven, applications are everything…

The iPhone is off to a strong start in this regard. There were over 500 applications available at the launch, and many of them are quite impressive. Given that the development SDK has only been available for a few months, I expect to see a lot more arrive between now and the end of the year.

I believe there is an interesting parallel between current iPhone application development and game development on a new console. While there are a few creative early releases, the initial crop of titles tend to be basic ports of existing programs, and they aren’t particularly optimized or efficient. But as developers gain experience, they are able to do more with less, and push the platforms to do some extraordinary things no one would have expected. This has lets consoles like the Sony PS/2 remain viable platforms even after the release of the newer PS/3. And I expect to see the same trend happen with the development of iPhone Apps.

So what has my experience with the new iPhone 3G been like?…

It has been largely positive, but with some frustrations. There are few external differences between the new and old handsets, and everything that I loved about the original iPhone is still true. The two major internal differences, GPS and 3G, are both great additions but at a noticeable cost in battery life. I find myself turning the 3G off on the phone to conserve the battery, switching it on only when I need it. I would love an option added to have it automatically switch on/off when going in and out of Safari.

While the 2.0 update has many usability enhancements, I have found it to be a bit unresponsive at times – something that never happened with the original software. I can touch icons or swipe across the screen and have a pause before seeing a response. On a device without physical keys, when the only response you get is visual, feedback needs to be immediate. I am putting this down to the first cut of a major software release – I’m confident that this will be fixed in the next software refresh.

I love the integration with Exchange – getting dynamic updates to my calendar are a major boost to my productivity. Unfortunately, this release of the software doesn’t provide a way for me to schedule an event on the iPhone and invite other people to it. If I am traveling and want to meet with my design team the next day to discuss a client suggestion, there is no way to schedule it via the calendar – I still need to send emails to everyone. There is also no way I have found to create email groups (eg – “Design Team”), forcing me to add people individually.

Having applications on the iPhone is fantastic. I use “ToDo” as a quick task list, news applications like “Mobile News” and “NY Times”, “ShoZu” and “Twittelator” for postings, “Facebook” for networking, “AIM” for IM’ing, and “Bloomberg” for tracking the markets.

And, of course, “iPint” for showing off the power of motion sensing interfaces…


http://www.carling.com/ipint_details.html

I don’t want anyone reading this review to think that I am down on the new iPhone 3G – far from it. As a hardware platform, it’s a measured evolution from the original iPhone, but as a software platform, it is a true revolution. I am confident that every issue I discussed in this review – even battery life – will be improved in future releases of the software. And I also expect some incredible new functionality to appear along the way as well.

That’s the beauty of Apple’s software based approach.

In many ways, the original iPhone was a proof of concept, showing that a touch based interface could go mainstream and redefine expectations for a product category like mobile phones. The 2.0 software extends this original vision to mobile computing, and represents the first true release of the iPhone as a platform. If you think about it, the iPhone is no more “just a phone” than iTunes is “just music” – they are both much more than their names imply.

I continue to be a big fan of the iPhone. The 3G release is no exception. Every aspect of it reflects a thoughtful design approach not found in many consumer products today. It is simple, elegant and powerful – far and away the best smart phone on the market.

And “smart phone” is just a small part of everything that it does.

iPhone 3G represents a totally different way of thinking about the mobile world…

The Quest For iPhone 3G…

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There’s something special about having new technology the day it comes out…

I spent a big chunk of last Friday waiting on a couple of lines to get my hands on the newly launched iPhone 3G.

Based on my previous unsuccessful experience of trying to get the original iPhone from an AT&T store when it launched a year ago, I decided the Apple Store was the only way to go. Being in New York, I had the luxury of three choices, and decided to head to the newest (and least known) Apple Store over on 14th Street and Ninth Avenue – in the heart of the old meat packing district.

I wanted to document the experience for this blog, so I took a video camera along to record what it’s like being part of a line at an Apple launch event. This short video captures the highlights:

The new iPhone is great, but does have a few quirks and shortcomings that I’ll tell you about in a follow-up review. (Overall, it’s still the best “Smartphone” you can buy.)

Feel free to share.

Enjoy!…

Walt Mossberg's iPhone 3G Review…

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It’s no secret I’m a big fan of the current iPhone…

I made the switch to iPhone a year ago after being a longterm Blackberry user, and haven’t looked back at all. Well it’s almost time for the next iteration of the iPhone – the iPhone 3G – will go on sale this Friday at 8am.

If you’re a current iPhone owner, the big question is:

Do I need the new hardware, or is the free 2.0 software upgrade enough?…

Gadget geek that I am, I plan on upgrading my iPhone Friday morning when it comes out, and I’ll let you know what I think after I try it out.

Until then, take a look at what Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal has to say:

This should be interesting…