2009
03.21

So Apple finally decided to, two years after the iPhone’s initial release, come out with a few features that smartphones elsewhere have had for years. In their new 3.0 software will be such amazing features as:

  • Search (Palm circa late ’90s was awesome)
  • Copy and paste (from the people who brought you Ctrl-X, -C and -V…anything daring to call itself a computer has had this since the dawn of time)
  • MMS (granted, the iPhone MMS app has contact and location attachment, but 99% of phone have had this feature for six years or so, albeit with the main not-have being smartphones)
  • Reading and composing e-mails in landscape, and having a landscape keyboard standard in all Apple apps (really, was it that hard?)
  • A2DP Stereo Bluetooth (wireless headphone support, something every $50-with-a-contract phone, and 99.9% of smartphones, have supported since the iPhone came out)

There are some features of the iPhone that are the wave of the future, to be sure, and Apple’s leadsership brought in an era of truly usable smartphones and truly high-end feature phones. I’m also happy to see these rather glaring omissions added to the docket of iPhone features. However I’m still left scratching my head at how Apple leaves out obvious features on their products, putting them in only after a revision or two that may just be in software.

This also distances the iPhone from the iPod touch, which is a good thing for the iPhone…but I’m still not paying $70 + texts + tax per month for an iPhone plan, even if it means I won’t have MMS and A2DP due to my model being the older one. Speaking of which, if you want to pay $400 over contract price, you can now get an iPhone 3G contract free, albeit only if you’re already an AT&T subscriber. You can then unlock the iPhone and use it on T-Mobile with non-3G service, but what fun is that when you just erased the price difference between your plan and AT&T’s by paying through the nose for your handset?

Then again, if the iPhone 3G had a CDMA version for that price…I’d probably still get a Palm Pre :p.

For deelopers, there are some nifty features, albeit ones that, in some cases, have beena round other platforms for ages…then again, Apple is very picky about how its app developers make its platform look, so you coul dmake the argument that some features are poorly implemented on other platforms:

  • In-application purchases (so you can actually get a single “reader” program, then buy books for it; all other platforms have no problem with this, and my jailbroken iPhone has an excellent reader app where you could download books and have them right ther eto read)
  • Push notifications (so you can actually use stuff like IM on your phone…background processes have been hard to handle on low-powered devices like phones, but taking this long for Apple to get an alternative out must be annoying for devs)
  • Accessory access, via dock connector and Bluetooth (good deal, though it was in Apple’s interest to get the dock work out sooner, since they make a cut of all accessory purchases…wonder if this means you could use your iPhone as an offload for digital cameras…you know, real ones)
  • Peer to peer wireless connectivity over Bluetooth (Nintendo DS has WiFi, Palm products have had infrared forever, and have done very well with it, and Pocket PCs have had infrared as well…plus newer Palms and Pocket PCs have had Bluetooth)
  • Maps access (this also includs turn-by-turn navigation, albeit with your own maps…funny how Apple didn’t like that before due to battery concerns…but normal maps can be Google’s, which is nice for many applications)
  • iPod Library Access (alternate music players? Probably not, but it’s nice to be able to play music on an iPod touch + phone)

Maybe I’m being a bit cynical, but many features that Apple will soon implement on the iPhone simply bring things that everyone else has had for years to the table, so buying the device isn’t such a dilemna. Unless of course you actually want to use the phone with a plan, and don’t want to pay $100 per month for base serice that, I hear, doesn’t work in big cities due to network overlod (SXSW, anyone?). This is a problem, since you can only get the iPhone on that one carrier, who apparently can’t grasp that their subscirbers would actually use the network.

If you have an iPhone, rejoice. If you have an iphone 3G, rejoice some more. You may still be called a tool, but at least the geeky kids won’t make fun of you much longer for having a phone you can’t copy and paste with…that you paid $200 plus a thirty-dollar data plan for.

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