Apple iPhone

Apple introduces its first phone today.  It is a bit tough to tell from looking at Apple’s Web site, but it appears that this is yet another smartphone that is not a flip-phone.  In other words, if it brushes up against something in your pocket it will make or answer unwanted calls.  Basically all Japanese phones are flip-phones and it baffles me as to how American consumers are denied the simple interface of “open to make or answer a call; flip closed to hang up”.

Apple gives us an MP3 player, which other brands of smart phones have had for several years.  What I want is a phone that won’t make calls from inside my pocket.

 [The Web site is http://www.apple.com/iphone/ ; be forewarned that this is unviewable in MSIE on XP and it crashed Firefox on XP at first.]

39 Comments

  1. Milan

    January 9, 2007 @ 7:27 pm

    1

    It will be interesting to see if someone comes up with an elegant way to use the iPhone’s WiFi capability to make free VoIP calls. I am a bit surprised Apple didn’t put that functionality in themselves.

  2. Razvan Musaloiu-E.

    January 9, 2007 @ 7:32 pm

    2

    When iPod was introduced there were a lot of other similar products and still Apple somehow managed to do it better. Perhaps they’ll do it again with this iPhone. I think it’s a good thing for everyone that they are trying. :-)

  3. Bob

    January 9, 2007 @ 7:38 pm

    3

    There were some details you missed. It has a number of detectors to figure out its context. It has a light sensor which would help it figure out whether it’s in your pocket or not. It also has a proximity detector. And it has an accelerometer. Wouldn’t the simpler, better user interface be for it to sense when it’s next to your ear in the right orientation, and then it just answers the phone???

  4. boomzilla

    January 9, 2007 @ 7:41 pm

    4

    The graphic of the iPhone on the main Apple page shows that you need to “slide to unlock”. I assume this is to prevent accidental presses from making unwanted calls.

  5. philg

    January 9, 2007 @ 7:51 pm

    5

    Bob: Interesting. I guess I didn’t figure this out while their Web site was crashing my browsers. Maybe those sensors can be used intelligently. I forget which computer interface nerd said “it is sad that we live in a world where a toilet knows whether or not you’re standing in front of it, but a computer does not.”

  6. derek

    January 9, 2007 @ 8:03 pm

    6

    according to keynote stuff i’ve read, you have to slide your finger across the bottom to unlock it, so you probably won’t be able to easily trigger a call from your pocket.

    i think a bigger issue will be how scratch resistant it is when jangled around in pockets and purses. or dropped on tables. people take their phones to more places than they would an ipod. a flip model would seem to make more sense for protection and size… it’s the first generation, though.

  7. Ryan

    January 9, 2007 @ 8:47 pm

    7

    This was directly addressed in the Jobs keynote. The phone is “locked” until you swipe your finger across the screen. When in this state there is a big graphic directing you to swipe your finger to unlock. Don’t know how hard it is to re-lock.

    Can’t believe I followed the keynote so closely this year. May be catching the Apple disease.

    Photo of locked phone, with sliding instructions:

    http://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/2007/01/dsc_0182.jpg

  8. Jack Foster Mancilla

    January 9, 2007 @ 8:49 pm

    8

    Wait a minute folks. … This is not your old mans telephone. … It may take a little while for some people to get their minds around what this little thing is.

    As I look at the thing, I pretty much think that I will almost never take my powerbook computer with me to anything but an office where I will be for a full workday.

    This is the ultimate road warriors tool. … Phone/email/web/pim/RSSreader/videoPlayer/ … Yada-yada-yada. … and a bunch of other stuff. It is, after all, running Mac OS X.

  9. Pedro Vera

    January 9, 2007 @ 11:32 pm

    9

    I thought I was the only one seeing those crashes. I tried all day and could not get either Firefox 2 or IE7 to load apple.com in Windows 2003. Came home, loaded it in FF 2 in OS X 10.4.8 and no issues.

    I think what’s going to happen is the same as with the original iPod. In the first 3-6 months they will figure out everything they screwed up with the iPhone 1.0. This is why you always try to stay away from Apple hardware that is on revision 1.0.

    I was thinking about the delicate screen, I carried a 5GB iPod in my key pocket for months, at the end the back could barely reflect light. Hopefully people won’t be as careless, it would be shame.

    What I see interesting is that OS X is that they got it to run in that kind of device without really stripping it down. It reminds me of QNX. I would rather have the iPhone with phone and real computer features and just forget the iPod functionality. For example, make it so it is my OS X home folder, and I can sync it at home, carry it to work and have my mobile home folder mounted in my work mac. This was going to be a feature of an earlier version of OS X but was then dropped with no explanation.

  10. car

    January 10, 2007 @ 2:29 am

    10

    Those experiencing the WinXP IE7/FF2 crash might want to try updating their installed version of QuickTime. Updating to QT 7.1.3 (from 7.0 somethingerother) seems to have fixed the problem here.

  11. Mark

    January 10, 2007 @ 2:56 am

    11

    There’s a patent also on Google Patents that explains the interface more. You can’t just do something by accidentally “touching” the screen. On the other hand, you do have to touch it (in the right way, sliding a switch) before you can call.

  12. Mark

    January 10, 2007 @ 3:07 am

    12

    “how scratch resistant it is” — The way I look at it, who cares? It’s a tool to be used, and used up, and then eventually replaced. I’m not a museum curator saving the thing for posterity. Let it get scratched.

  13. Stuart

    January 10, 2007 @ 3:58 am

    13

    Anyone who had really deal with phones for yourself or friends knows that ANYTHING can happen in a pocket. The number of times i have had to lock the external buttons on flip phones is amazing. ( volume changes/ ring style changes etc )
    The slide should have been hardware ( with some real unique activation .. how about that Apple . Slide will be done by, say, keys in a … pocket. how about fingerprint recognition :-) ) rather than the screen being ON in a pocket or holster/sleeve.
    I want this to be great but i dont think it has been in hard usage enough to make that claim. Maybe version 3.0 will be the one.

  14. Franz

    January 10, 2007 @ 7:14 am

  15. Ravi Nagpal

    January 10, 2007 @ 8:56 am

    15

    Philip,
    If you are currently using a GSM provider, try the Qtek 8500/ imate SmartFlip. (HTC Startrek variants) (this is available unlocked). Or the Cingular locked and branded version known as the Cingular 8125. This is a wm5 smartphone with most features of a smartphone (no qwerty keyboard or wifi). And it is a flip phone to boot, not much bigger than the uber popular razr.

  16. Eric

    January 10, 2007 @ 9:05 am

    16

    The big question: Is there any way to write software for the iPhone? According to MacInTouch, Apple representatives are saying the iPhone is a “closed platform”. Is there a loophole for Dashboard Widgets?

    Frankly, if the iPhone is an open platform, it will be revolutionary. But if it’s closed, I’m having trouble seeing how it’s worth $499 (with a two-year Cingular contract) to anybody but dedicated road-warriors. I mean, wouldn’t it be more useful if you could load some decent third-party To-Do software, or some custom corporate apps?

  17. Boozedog

    January 10, 2007 @ 11:00 am

    17

    I wonder if you can hook a keyboard and monitor up to it … if so, we might be close to this: http://philip.greenspun.com/business/mobile-phone-as-home-computer

  18. Matt

    January 10, 2007 @ 11:34 am

    18

    Flips might dominate the Asian market – but that’s because they’re big commuters and video is in higher demand. Europeans have less of a commuter culture so chocolate bars dominate the European market. You press a 2-button sequence to lock them and press it again to unlock. The old text Nokia’s were the best UIs I’ve ever seen on a phone. They have by far the greatest market share in Europe. All these graphics complicate the usability (and slow down the OS).

  19. Dave T.

    January 10, 2007 @ 1:42 pm

    19

    FWIW, the site opened fine on IE7 on Windows XP for me…

    Looks like a pretty interesting new take on an established solution.

    Dave T

  20. David Wihl

    January 10, 2007 @ 2:32 pm

    20

    I think Eric has got it best. Even if it is running OS X, if third parties can’t add software to it, it will be a marginal player. I’ve never understood Apple’s reasoning for allowing all sorts of iPod hardware add-ons but no Independent Software Vendors to add cool new features and functions at a pace far faster than Apple or other large companies. In terms of real functionality, it’s not much more than many touch screen Smart Phones today, especially those based on Windows Mobile. I agree that the stylus should be replaced by fingers only. Personally, I like “little plastic keyboards” as it overall provides more screen real estate and allows tactical feedback when touch typing. Maybe someone will make a Bluetooth keyboard. AFAIK, there is no USB port.

    The proximity sensor could make things worse when it is your pocket – it may assume that it is against your face and then turn on the phone!

    Typically Apple – well presented, elegant UI, but not something truly new and innovative.

  21. Mark Dalton

    January 10, 2007 @ 11:14 pm

    21

    Phil,
    I have “used up” several flip phones over time simply by opening and closing them so often.
    A Motorola rep told me that the “flip” in flip-phones was the weakest of all their links.
    I also wonder how many of these phones Apple truly expects to sell at a rather hefty $500 price tag.
    It’s gonna be hard to unseat Blackberry.

  22. Trevis Rothwell

    January 11, 2007 @ 1:00 am

    22

    I expect that Apple will sell quite a few of them. They’ve already proven that many people are perfectly willing to spend a few hundred dollars on an iPod… my guess is that many of those same people will be happy to spend $500 on an iPhone.

    This might ultimately be Apple’s biggest blow yet to Microsoft… multitudes of people buying up an OS X-running device that does not (ostensibly) replace their Windows PC, so there’s no fear of losing Windows apps to OS X. Slowly, they come to like the iPhone. Maybe Apple even works it out so that they can plug it up to a monitor and keyboard, a la PhilG’s plan for a phone as home computer.

    This humble telephone may be a key player in future widespread Mac use.

  23. Mark

    January 11, 2007 @ 1:42 am

    23

    “it’s actually no smartphone”: Their definition of “smartphone” is theirs. Most people in the mobile industry and most laymen define smartphone as phone+PDA. The geeks at Ars and Wikipedia are not the Academie Francaise, with control over the orthodoxy of the language. Descriptive linguistics says the majority rules in determining word meanings.

  24. Lanny Chambers

    January 11, 2007 @ 3:09 am

    24

    Ah, the rational analysis of engineers. Don’t be surprised if Apple sells zillions of these things to non-geeks, simply because the iPhone is mouth-wateringly cool. The gotta-have-it factor is over the top, you know the marketing will be spot on-target, and plenty of folks have $500 to spend on toys. I seem to recall similar arguments against the iPod…

  25. Simon Kemp

    January 11, 2007 @ 6:50 am

    25

    It looks very pretty and has a nice big screen but it doesn’t seem to be able to do anything my Nokia N80 can’t do. In addition, the N80 is 3G and, running on symbian, has a whole host of third party software to play with.

  26. Nikato Muirhead

    January 11, 2007 @ 11:01 am

    26

    should be easy to hook up yo tv, using existing ipod av docks or cables. adding bluetooth keyboard is no problem either.

  27. Mark

    January 11, 2007 @ 2:43 pm

    27

    The problem is, most people willing to shell out $499 for a cellphone already have a good one: Blackberry

  28. Ellis

    January 11, 2007 @ 3:37 pm

    28

    Here’s the iPhone quip of the day fromJohn NAck’s blog, http://blogs.adobe.com/jnack/

    “From Victor Allen at Juxt Interactive: “I’m going to wait for the iPhone Shuffle. You just clip it to your ear and call people at random.” Hah!”

  29. Jim Howard

    January 11, 2007 @ 6:56 pm

    29

    I think the IPhone is a big step forward over existing smart phones. I will be astounded if it has any problems being well behaved riding in your pocket, given the sensor suite and advanced touch interface that it has.

    Steve’s demo of how to put people one hold, conference call, and quickly access your contact list showed significant advantages over other smart phones. The high resolution screen may make real web browsing more doable.

    To me the two big questions are :

    1) Will the IPhone screen be scratched into uselessness under normal use?

    2) Will a lot users miss having third party apps?

  30. Ed Mund

    January 11, 2007 @ 9:33 pm

    30

    There’s two kind of people in the world, flip-likers and candy-bar likes (aka flip haters). To me, flip always means extra motion opening and closing. I’ve always used Nokia candy bar style (currently a very nice 6682). I keep the keypad mostly locked. I can still answer an incoming call with a key press and only need to quick keypresses to unlock.

    Flips always feel bulkier to me (Razr etc notwithstanding). I work with a number of people who feel the same…so realize there two kinds of people out there.

  31. Sam LIpoff

    January 11, 2007 @ 11:14 pm

    31

    This seems to be an interesting but very risky move from Apple — selling a product in a market segment that does not currently exist. It is not a smartphone in the sense that the Blackberry, Treo, Q, or Blackjack are simply because it does not have a thumboard. No corporate customer (or consumer) for whom e-mail comes first could switch to the iPhone from any of these thumboard devices. A thumboard is an absolute, non-negotiable necessity for serious e-mail usage. An on-screen keyboard is no substitute. So, they are trying to hit a high end fashion phone market that has not really worked before. The Nokia 7280 or Nokia 8800 are both $500+ phones that really did not see much success in any geographic market. Maybe the iPhone will win over consumers with better marketing and more media features, but I think that it is still, at best, a niche product, and will likely be handicapped by Apple’s proprietary proclivities.

  32. patrick giagnocavo

    January 12, 2007 @ 2:22 am

    32

    Just a warning to those considering a Q or other “smart” phone that runs Windows.

    The UI is horrible, and worse, the phone will not suspend applications you open that are not in the foreground … so if you start a game, take a call, then put it in your pocket, the game continues to run and drain your battery faster, with no visual indication that this is going on!

    Of course, taking a bad thing and making it worse, there is a “Task Manager” under the settings panel that lets you kill off apps you no longer want running.

  33. Dave T.

    January 12, 2007 @ 9:24 am

    33

    Patrick:

    On Windows Mobile you can see the running programs–and kill them off if desired–by going to Start -> Settings -> System tab -> Memory -> Running Programs tab.

    Or, a quicker way (at least on a Treo 700w–not sure if it works the same on other phones), hold down the Option button (the one on the bottom left with the big dot on it) and press OK.

    Dave T

  34. James

    January 12, 2007 @ 2:04 pm

    34

    It looks lovely, and I’m sure it will have some very nice software on board, but the lack of a ‘tiny plastic keyboard’ is a deal killer for anyone who sends more than the occasional email. It was horrible watching Steve tap out single words on that virtual keyboard.

    Lack of third party software is also a blow, although Apple may get around that with third party widgets.

    It’ll also be interesting if they get to use the iPhone name, after this Cisco trademark issue.

    -James.

  35. SuperMike

    January 14, 2007 @ 1:48 am

    35

    ‘Apparently, the apple website needs you to upgrade to the latest version of quicktime (or itunes) it is pretty bizarre that they’d put it out there like that. My systems all dumped it immediately on load (both firefox and IE7), also. I don’t know why they didn’t make it a flip phone. A funny conversation I had with one of the human interface people I work with: My mom’s looking for a cell phone, a whole bunch of people I know (including the H.I. person in question) have motorola razors; I told her that I reccommended a razor to my mom, and she said something like “a flip phone? don’t older people like the candy-bar kind of phone more?” I was a little astonished.
    One observation someone made was that you have to be careful about what kind of material your pockets are made of if you don’t want your ipod to get scratched, and they pointed out that they hoped the iphone is better.

  36. apple iphone

    January 14, 2007 @ 7:52 am

    36

    I think it was a excellent move for apple to come out with the apple iPhone. The iPhone has most features consumers have been wanting to have. I also think the price will not deter people from buying the apple iPhone. I even think they will sell more then the 10 million apple iPhones they expect to sell within the year.

  37. Ghengis

    January 18, 2007 @ 8:40 pm

    37

    It may be that soon people will be buying the cheapest, most stripped-down phone possible.
    I see the “dude walking around talking into his bluetooth headset” phenomon reaching a critical mass, and this: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070118/ap_on_hi_te/tech_test_bluetooth_watch
    is a watch that incorporates a caller-id type display. How far are we from the point where we wear a bunch of bluetooth enabled jewelry and carry a ruggedized transmitter brick in our pocket? Maybe they can put a chording keyboard into a cross pen for text messaging.

  38. iPhone Reviewer

    July 5, 2007 @ 6:38 pm

    38

    I tried to research what are the problems with iPhona and there are quite a few of them exists. For example, after 5 days of working with the screen started to go blank and reset option did not help, so the only option was to return iPhone to Apple for a replacement.

    I would strongly suggest to back up all the data to your computer and since it’s not hard to do via iPhone docking station, should not be a problem if your iPhone stop working.

  39. Jesscor

    August 21, 2007 @ 10:58 am

    39

    So in essence, Apple have spent most of their time concentrating on the “smart” part, and forgotten about the phone?

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