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March 17, 2009

Some thoughts on iPhone OS 3.0

I followed the live coverage of the iPhone OS 3.0 event earlier today by both GDGT and Gizmodo. Both sites did a great job, and it was only once that was there a glitch in reloading their Web sites. It happened to both simultaneously, so it might have been something on my end or my ISP. Otherwise, their coverage was about equal, except for some minor points I'll make.

The Gizmodo photographer did a great job photographing the slideshow. Usually, the screen of the smartphone on the slide is overexposed and burned out because the camera is trying to compensate for the overall dark background. The Giz photog was able to adapt to each slide which makes me think that he or she was using a spot meter--that's the way to go. Set your camera to EV +1.0, and place the spot meter on the phone screen, and you'll get legible text everytime.

GDGT did a better job of relating the content during the Q&A session at the end. While Giz stated that the answer to question about Flash support was that there were no Flash announcement. The GDGT guy, I assume it was Ryan Block, added that the speaker said that there was already suport for HTML5 with video tags, and h.264 encoding.

On the medical side, today's event was noteworthy for a 3.0 app produced by Johnson & Johnson for blood glucose monitoring that would allow the user to do a reading with their OneTouch monitor and then transfer this reading to the iPhone via Bluetooth, or the 30-pin dock connector. The user can then message a physician, or anyone else with this reading and/or their symptoms at the moment, as well as graph the trend of the readings. It's very interesting to note that during the Q&A, the Apple person said that Bluetooth can be unlocked on the iPod Touch but you'll have to spend $9.95 to buy the OS 3.0 upgrade.

Also, many new APIs are going to be unveiled that will allow developers to write apps for iPhone or iPod Touch accessories. One idea presented was the use of the sync cord to attach directly to a sphygmomanometer.

To me, this presentation was less about a phone and more about expanding a new platform for mobile computing via the iPhone, the iPod Touch or the speculated Apple Netbook with large touchscreen. I'm willing to wait for the latter. There was more announced today than what was expected, even if not everyone cares about stereo Bluetooth or voice memos that are editable and shareable. The cut, copy and paste function nows seems to be well worth the wait.Landscape mode is now available for all key apps, but I don't think that makes up for not having a hard keyboard. This is a major selling point for the Palm Pre. Someone asked about possible support for a Bluetooth HID (human input device) in the form of a separate keyboard. This is what I want, but they gave the generic "no announcement" response.

The presentation opened with which I thought has the least importance, but certainly has the most buzz these days: the App Store. They now will have an "in-app purchase" option which is where the developer can continually upgrade or add new levels to a game, and they ask for more money each time. This subscription-like service could also be used for magazines (which are rapidly disappearing in the tree-destroying format), or for ebooks (which are catching fire due to the Kindle 2). Rojas and Block have a nice discussion on their last Podcast about the App Store. I think it's Ryan who says that there are 25,000 apps available but only 6 good ones. The App Store hype needs a little deflation despite the fact that every other handheld manufacturer is coming up with their own. Blackberry app store? Is there a need?

Even the suits were represented today by the Oracle speaker who spoke about an enterprise database app to manage CRM. Let's see, business, gaming (P2P mulitiplay), e-mail, photography (no video, though), medical apps, location positioning (turn-by-turn GPS), you would think that is only platform that can do it all. We know what's coming from Palm which has many loyal followers, and Google's Android is in it's infancy.

Among them all I think the common thread and trend to watch is the handheld that stands alone, and is not expected to be sync'ed with a PC. Right now Apple is stuck with having to support iTunes which I'm falling out of love with with every prompt to upgrade it and the other craplets such as MobileMe.

The Kindle is the first device that exists untethered, although I like one based solely on Wi-Fi is workable, should be $100 less expensive, and is need for most other countries outside of the US who use GSM (unless they can put a sim card slot in it).

More change is coming. This thought might help soothe the owners of the first iPhone who won't be able to benefit from the hardware improvements in the new OS, such as A2DP and MMS. Consumers still have a chance in voicing their preferences for what they want in a handheld device. I don't think we've seen the end in convergence or divergence and specialization in the handheld market.


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