iPad – It’s Just A Big iPhone

The Larger Screen Matters

Ever since watching the first Harry Potter movie, I’ve been fascinated with the idea of having newspapers with video and continually updated content. I have always hoped that someday we would have the same experience, and the iPad is the first gadget to finally succeed in bringing us this reality. After using the iPad for a few months now, I think that it is still a luxury consumption device that could definitely fit between the laptop and phone markets. It really is just a larger iPhone, and with similar resolution to the new iPhone 4 Retina Display ™, but it’s amazing how having a larger form factor makes apps and games so much more enjoyable to use. While it is currently meant for consuming content, the addition of a bluetooth keyboard and more powerful apps will allow for creating content such as drawing, composing music, documents, presentations, and writing screenplays as just a few examples.

While it can replace the Amazon Kindle for most people, I still enjoy reading on the Kindle due to it being very light to hold, and it’s excellent for reading in bright sunlight. But, if you only want to buy or carry around a single reading device, then the iPad is definitely the device to have. It is a great replacement for reading books, magazines, newspapers, and cookbooks. It works very well as a PDF reader, especially with the new support in the Apple’s official e-reader app iBooks. It can also be used for playing games, watching movies, viewing photos, browsing the internet, looking at maps, and much more.

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It’s not a Phone! It’s not a Computer! It’s an iPad!

This has been discussed to death, but I have decided to weigh in a few thoughts. If you love to customize your PC, run Linux, or would give up your netbook only from your cold dead hands, then this post is not for you. If, on the other hand, you think that the iPad is actually a bit more than just a large coaster, feel free to continue reading.

The main thing to keep in mind is that the iPad hasn’t been released, has only had a limited hands-on time for a handful of people, there will be a version 2, and most of my thoughts could be somewhat translated to another appliance-like tablet device.

That Really Is The Name. No Joke.

There have already been hundreds of jokes and parodies about the name, some recent, a few in the past. Will we continue to mock it 6 months from now? Probably not, as either it will have failed as a product, or the name will fade into the background as almost every name does (think Microsoft, Bing, even Google for that matter). Sure this name may sound the most ridiculous right now, and there is merit to women being upset that it wasn’t thought out even a little. But over time it will just be the name and in six months it won’t matter anymore.

Hyper-Hyped Up Beyond Imagination

Is it even possible that Apple’s reveal could have lived up to most of the hype showering the internet? I don’t think so. It may have been short of many reasonable expectations, but the hype was definitely an impossible goal to be reached (especially since Jobs did claim the device to be magical). I think I can safely say that the version they showed off at the event was not magical, and really was just a larger iPhone. That said, I think Apple delivered a product very similar to the first iPod, something that initially is a letdown, but with lots of potential.

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iPhone Gains Speed and .mac Mobilizes

Apple announced the next version of the iPhone with the tag line “Twice as fast. Half the price.” The new unannounced, but heavily rumored features are 3G (HSDPA), GPS, and MobileMe. The rest of the story is the new 2.0 version of the firmware that includes Enterprise features, support for 3rd party applications, and worldwide support (ie: 70+ languages). Thanks to MacRumorsLive I was able to read the keynote information through live streaming.

Price (Purchase Page)
The price with AT&T 2-year contract is now $199 for 8GB and $299 for 16GB, which should allow for a much wider adoption. I would consider getting one if it were $100 cheaper for the 16GB. I really think with a 2-year agreement, Apple should take their losses on the purchase of the phone, knowing they’ll make it up due to their cut on the monthly fees in the required contract.

Features (Apple’s Feature Page)
To quickly run over the features they include: 3G, GPS, Bluetooth, App Store, Exchange support, push contacts, push calendar, push email, instant contact search, VPN, WPA2, MobileMe, email attachments, additional languages, better email management, scientific calculator, and more. All software updates will be available to current iPhone users.

3rd Party Apps (App Store Info)
This will be the killer feature for sure. The new application support will be a great improvement. I’d love to test out development if only I could afford a new Mac right now, or if they supported development on Win/Linux. People have already been putting apps by hacking the phone. The interesting thing Apple decided to do was create a Push notification service that will allow the iPhone to connect only to apple to get notifications for ANY application, and will relay the information from the 3rd party to the iPhone user. This will allow IM to feel like it’s running in the background, even though technically it is not. I believe this will be a great feature, and will as they claim keep stability and battery life in check.

MobileMe (MobileMe Info)
The last, but not least announcement was the upgrade to the service previously coined “Dot Mac”. This service allows you to sync Email, Calendar, Contacts, Photos, and more across computers, the iPhone, and the Internet. They give you 20GB of space now to store everything. Finally this is a service that is almost complete enough to merit the price of $99/year. Apple touts it as Exchange for the Rest of us.

There is much more to be found on Apple’s website, as well as many other sites. Check out TechMeme for the flood of information.

Unexpected Results with iPhone Launch

I didn’t think the iPhone would do so well in the opening weekend, but I did expect them to sell most of their inventory. I guess they had more in stock than I thought, and people waiting in line seemed to be very pleased with their new $600 phone. A little too much for my taste, but after hearing and reading from real users of the phone I have to admit that I would love to have the money lying around, and be willing to switch carriers. Alas I do not.

The phone has many neat and cool features, Apple has managed to fit an amazing amount of technology into a sleek slim form factor, and the tests have shown that the iPhone lives up to many of the claims made earlier in the year. Also, as discussed at the WWDC the iPhone has no real 3rd party support, but instead relies on the Safari browser and quicktime to bring users all the good and bad of AJAX and web applications.

Some of the Cool Features
The photo experience is very good with the touch capabilities making it seemless and intuitive to use. Visual Voice Mail is a neat feature that allows you to treat voice mail just like you do email and play any individual message and manage them through an inbox. Using the Safari engine and having a great interface to navigate the internet experience is very good as well. The touch screen itself is an amazing feature, and will continue to invade other areas of our lives as the technology progresses, it allows both innovative UI like the pinch and slide, but also allows such things as the keyboard to change over time with software updates. The last cool feature I’ll mention is google maps, even though no GPS is built in, having a map available anywhere is a great feature in my opinion. Maybe in the next generation of the iPhone we’ll get a real mapping experience with GPS.

Real World Tests
According to CNET’s German the iPhone has a very good battery life, with talk time around 8 hours, and video and music playback times around 7 and 24 hours, respectively. This is very good in my opinion, and is close to the limit with the current technology, only efficient utilization can extend it much further until new technology arives. The WIFI device drains the battery, so beware of using it for surfing all day long without a power source near by. I’m sure an extra battery accessory will be available shortly.

Also people are raving about the photo experience on the iPhone, especially showing off the photos. The intuitive nature of the experience is what makes it actually fun to show people photos on your phone. The camera is okay, but not great. It’s only 2 Megapixels, and there is no optical zoom, or flash (not that phone flashes work), but it does take decent photos in daylight, and you can always bring along your hefty camera for any real photography work, as I’m sure no one is using their smart phone yet for any real photography.


Steve Jobs introduced the SDK for the iPhone at the WWDC Keynote. He said that it is the web standards, bleh to that! No native 3rd party support from Apple, but instead all of the technology used to create web applications can be immediately used with the iPhone.

Even though this makes it much easier for people to develop for the iPhone, at least if they’re currently in the web space, it doesn’t allow for any creative, and ingenious uses of the full technological capabilities of the phone. I support the use of AJAX and web standards, and even think this is a strategic move, but I’m not sure that such a capable media device is benefited by limiting technology.

Currently, you have to use Quicktimefor any video content you want to share with iPhone users; except for Youtube, which is converting their videos to use the H.264 standard that natively plays in Quicktime. No Flash, Java, Silverlight, AIR, or any other media and rich application technologies are currently incorporated into the iPhone and probably won’t be for a while, if ever.

All this said, web applications are powerful and even without these other technologies the iPhone will indeed have a decent if not excellent application experience, especially since anyone can put up a website in a few days or weeks and have a fully capable application that works on the iPhone and on any browser. Once you start to see the apps that are coming out on lists like Rev2.org’s Top 25 Web Apps or iphoneapplicationlist.com you realize that Apple’s move wasn’t such a terrible idea or strategy. It makes sense to want to have people be able to make and use the apps as quickly as possible.

There are a few drawbacks to the iPhone currently. The price is high, but comparable. You can only use this with AT&T for now, at least in the US and this will likely be true for a year or two until people make Apple break their contract with AT&T. Hackers have already claimed that they have made an iPhone unlocked and didn’t need to activate it through iTunes.

The display is great, but be careful as it is made of glass and can break easily from a hip height drop [link]. Another thing that’s tough to use is the keyboard, as it provides no tactile feedback. It would have been great if they used a little vibrating device to have each keypress give a slight haptic feedback to the user. No real 3rd party applications will be allowed for now, unless partnered with like YouTube. Finally no GPS is a downfall, but would have hampered battery life as well as the size and weight of the device.

As a final thought I believe that the iPhone is an amazing and even revolutionary device, with some shortcomings that will hopefully be resolved in the near future through firmware updates or hacks. If you already have an iPod, and use iTunes regularly than this phone will definitely be a great device for you. If you are a hard core Apple fanboy, or a disciple of Steve Jobs, then I you already have one of these and you shouldn’t have read this post.

I will, however, stay away until the following generations before I’d purchase this phone, and I’ll probably never switch to AT&T so hopefully there will be a way to get an unlocked version eventually.

Will it blend
WDDC Keynote
A look at the iPhone @ WWDC enclosed in glass
Funny Conan Spoof
Macbreak Weekly on the iPhone
Revision3’s Systm Cracking the iPhone
The Apple Phone Show Podcast