ZDNet: Hands on with Apple’s iPhone: ‘elegant, ravishing, simple, sleek; impeccable & intuitive UI’

“During a meeting with Apple’s vice president of iPod products Greg Joswiak, I finally got to play briefly with one of the highly anticipated iPhones,” Jeremy Roche reports for ZDNet Australia.

Roche reports, “The iPhone is one of the most elegant and ravishing phones I’ve seen so far, due largely to its simple, sleek design and impeccable, intuitive user interface. While fashion phone fans used to teensy handsets might disagree, the iPhone doesn’t feel too unwieldy and at just under 12mm thick, it is certainly pocketable.”

Roche reports, “Although the iPhone runs a version of Mac OS X “optimised for the handheld experience”, Joswiak explains it’s not an open platform and any updates to applications or software will come through Apple. This closed model, although secure, means you can’t install additional custom or third-party apps — does this mean it isn’t defined as a smartphone? It’s a model that Joswiak says will continue in the foreseeable future.”

Roche reports, “While the room we were in was dimly lit and conducive to making displays look vibrant, the screen didn’t fail to impress. It is bright, colourful and seems like a very high resolution for its size. To get an idea of how to type messages on a buttonless phone, I ducked into SMS… Using two thumbs to type a quick couple of words, the touch-sensitive QWERTY worked well — my accuracy might have been better if I had longer than 3 minutes with the phone. However, I think the virtual keys and the lack of a tactile click feeling won’t be everyone’s preferred way of text entry.”

“Orientation changes as expected when the iPhone is tipped on its side, allowing you to see Web sites, videos, maps and photos in landscape mode. Multi-touch is a fantastic feature for zooming in and out and panning. Apple isn’t mentioning how much system memory is onboard, but we didn’t notice much of a lag between menus or applications — mind you we didn’t push the iPhone’s multi-tasking abilities to the extreme,” Roche reports.

Roche reports, “We were unable to demo the synching process with iTunes, and are disappointed that Wi-Fi can’t be used for synching or for direct communication with other iPhones… Joswiak claimed an advantage of the wired connection is that it’s faster and that it charges the device at the same time… Addressing the iPhone’s lack of 3G connectivity at a time when HSDPA services are flourishing internationally and the impact of future WiMAX technology, Joswiak said that Apple ‘made some choices that make sense today.'”

Full article here.
3G is coming to future iPhones. Steve Jobs said so himself during his keynote presentation. iPhone is a US-only release at first: June for the US, Q4 for Europe, and 2008 for Asia. Expect to see different iPhones just like you see different iPods and different Macs for various needs at a range of price points. As for Wi-Fi, that’s a software decision for Apple to make. The Wi-Fi can be used to do whatever Apple wants in the future; the main thing is that it’s in there. Remember how early this is: there are parts of the iPhone that are not being shown, that are still being worked on for iPhone’s June release.

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Top 10 things to love and top 10 things to hate about the Apple iPhone – January 10, 2007
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Hands-on with Apple’s iPhone – January 10, 2007
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25 Comments

  1. The interface we see here in the iPod..i think is the future of not only Cellphone interface ( that one is obvious) but it’s also the future of UI in computing…this will be when Tablet computing really takes off. Wouldn’t surprise me at all if the next iMac has a detacheble screen with the apple patented touch interface…i think it would be pretty cool…and i bet you they have working prototypes in Cupertino as i type this

  2. it doesnt really surprise me that the iPhone is locked down to Apple-only software. It’s their brand new baby and they dont want to hear of any “software crashes” because someone’s programmed their shareware badly. Having said that tho, I would really appreciate having some way of installing financial software on it so I can track my budget before making a big purchase, or something.

    Aside from a GPS software that will allow you to use it as a sat-nav unit, what other software do you guys think would benefit from being installed on the iPhone?

  3. On the subject of custom development, can I just throw the following into the mix…

    If the iPhone Safari is truly a fully-featured Web browser, than it must surely have the same Java and Javascript functionality as Mac Safari.

    It therefore follows that iPhone must have a recognisable Java Virtual Machine. So I would imagine that so-called SOA or Web 2.0 apps will be supported from the get-go.

    My guess is that iPhone’s first few iterations will be locked down for the following reasons…

    a) Apple’s lead partner at Cingular obviously has a sensitivity about something coming onto their network that has a possibility of causing network disruption. Quite how this reflects in Cingular’s relationship with other – normally extensible – “smartphone” manufacturers (whether Palm, Windows or Symbian) is a question that someone else needs to answer.

    b) There is a lot of overhead in creating a developer program with an SDK and accompanying certification, and there is very little point until the first 10 million phones are in the hands of real customers. That’s around June 2008 if anyone would care to hazard a guess.

    c) At some point, a network operator who is more determined about satisfying the needs of the business community will come into Apple’s orbit, most likely in Europe or Asia where cellular networks are more advanced than those in the USA; that manufacturer may well be willing to subsidise a subsequent generation of iPhone more aggressively and be more relaxed about an ‘open’ platform. Where is Clent Richardson (Apple’s former VP for Developer Relations)? He left to get into the cellular industry in the UK. What’s he up to now?

    d) I have no axe to grind about Cingular (I live in Europe), but their CEO’s performance on Tuesday was a demonstration of what happens when ‘old’ telephony (even the supposedly-modern cellular element) collides with ‘new’ computing. The guy was reading off idiot cards ferchrissake.

    e) Let Apple get some more horsepower into the phone. More RAM would be my first step. 16GB in January 2008 seems like a good start and pretty realistic.

  4. I agree with locking the system down, for now. Maybe in the future, Apple can find a way to heavily control the deployment of third party apps, like only allowing widgets or something. It’s a consumer device, you don’t want to open it up to everyone. I bet Apple will allow widgets to be installed thru Apple’s widget website (or Cingular), which means Apple would review and test any third-party widgets first and then put them up for download on their site, like they have done with Google and Yahoo so far.

    I currently have a WM5 Smartphone (HTC StrTrk) and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to do a full system restore due to third party apps messing up the phone or distorting the user experience. Thankfully, the Missing Sync for OS X is a wonderful application, so everytime I have to restore my WM5 phone, I have all my important information on my Mac. I am at the point where I just keep my phone stock, no third-party apps or anything just so that it stays somewhat reliable.

    Everyone (well at least Windows users) expect computers to be buggy and unreliable, this mode of thinking was established by Microsoft ever since Windows became mainstream with Windows 95. But with consumer devices such as the iPod or cell phones, people expect them to work flawlessly. Most people just want a cell phone that has a good UI, works great as a phone and has some extras on the side (like a media player and internet). Only the hardcore geeks want a device that they can hack up and install a bunch off add-ons.

    Can you imagine how much of the flop the iPod would have been if it was somehow unlocked to allow third-party crap installed?

  5. A software update can enable iPhone-to-PC wifi connections or iPhone-to-iPhone connections any time apple feels like releasing such an update. I agree with MDN’s take. The key thing is that the wifi is there…now it’s up to Apple’s software team and independent hackers to figure out where to go with it.

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