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Apple IPhone not my Perfect Handheld

01/10/07 | by Joseph A. di Paolantonio [mail] | Categories: Mobile

Over a year-and-an-half ago, I wrote about what I would want in a perfect handheld - really the perfect converged mobile computing & communications experience. The Apple iPhone doesn't meet the qualifications that I gave there. But it would seem that the iPhone is intended to compete more with the Motorola V3i & SLVR than any PalmOS or Windows Mobile smart phone. That's a shame. Though the multi-touch UI might prove to be the next best thing.

While I did some research last night and this morning, to match what I heard at MacWorld with what facts I could find, I should wait until the device finally comes out in June 2007 on Cingular in the USA, before actually deciding. From what I know right now, however, I doubt that I'll be a customer for the iPhone.

Now if someone would come out with a device using the next generation PalmOS, Access Linux Platform [ALP] with 3G+, 802.11a/n, Bluetooth 2.0+EDR with A2DP & AVRCP, WiMax, GPS and maybe even UWB. And given ALP's compatibility layer for older PalmOS applications and it's Linux kernel, everything else I want, and chances are that you want, are already covered. Yes, 802.11a/n as n is already backward compatible to g which is backward compatible to b, so adding "a" covers it all.

Of course, the other part of this equation is to get rid of proprietary digital lock-in, by combining all the various DRM schemes into one consumer friendly idea, and have all web services and desktop applications conform to the appropriate open APIs and file formats. Ah, utopia!

I've taken my June 2005 list of perfect handheld functions and updated it.

  • Open Source OS but I would take MacOSX, if it was really the full OS
  • Lot's of third-party apps
  • Multiple input methods including [soft] QWERTY keyboard, handwriting recognition, taps and multi-touch gestures, and voice [commands and dialing]
  • wired & wireless synchronization of ALL my digital life: contacts, calendar, audio/video/photo/eBook media, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, databases... all files, all the time
  • wireless PAN, LAN, MAN & WAN and GPS, and keep IR too - whatever the latest protocols, such as those listed above for today, with expandability and upgradeable for tomorrow
  • convenient Voice and Data, and SMS, MMS, IM, chat, VoIP, and web & video conferencing
  • advanced graphics rendering for data visualization, games, and more
  • Storage and more storage, hard drives, solid state disks, and maybe more than one compact flash memory slots, like SD and CFII
  • Full IMAP & POP3 email compatibility with all servers that meet those protocols and with the ability to send, receive and handle all attachment & MIME types
  • Complete web, wap & location services
  • feed syndication reader
  • cookies & javascript enabled, with security management
  • Full encryption handling for SSL, VPNs, etc.

The Apple iPhone doesn't do it. The ModBook comes closer, but isn't realy want I'm looking for either. Open up the iPhone, let it really take advantage of MacOSX including application installation and inkwell, and I would might be a customer.

Update: I had to add one other thing, because I'm really confused by this. I should do what I said above and wait until the Apple iPhone is released, but... Here's what Apple says about OSX on the iPhone:

All the power and sophistication of the world’s most advanced operating system — OS X — is now available on a small, handheld device that gives you access to true desktop-class applications and software, including rich HTML email, full-featured web browsing, and applications such as widgets, Safari, calendar, text messaging, Notes, and Address Book. iPhone is fully multi-tasking, so you can read a web page while downloading your email in the background. This software completely redefines what you can do with a mobile phone.end quotation
-- Apple - iPhone - High Technology - OSX

The original Palm and even the Newton gave us much of that over a decade ago and added email, the web, and javascript [widgets are javascript] with the PalmV with Omnisky modem in '99. They were revolutionary devices. If the Apple iPhone lives up to that first sentence, it would be interesting, evolutionary, and maybe verging on breakthrough: "All the power and sophistication of the world’s most advanced operating system... access to true desktop-class applications and software...".

I guess that my 4GB PalmOS Lifedrive with WiFi and Bluetooth [AudioGateway adds A2DP & AVRCP - love those third-party apps], in conjunction with my old Bluetooth GSM/EDGE phone [total cost for both $349] is still the best solution for me.

Update: Marc LaFountain has a well-written post rebutting or expounding the "concerns" that have been raised about the Apple iPhone. For the most part, I agree with him. As I say in my post "Apple Future is iTunes not Computer", I don't think that Apple intends their iPhone to be converging business and personal lives nor to converge computing and communications, but to converge entertainment and communications. In this, and in Apple's use of the multi-touch interface, I think that Apple will be very successful. One point in which I disagree with Marc is that there is no real reason not to allow third-party applications on the iPhone. Apple already has a well-established developer program. Apple could have released developer specs at MacWorld, and between now [the announcement] and June [the release] could easily have worked with the third-party developer partners to generate a list of MacOSX applications that would work on the iPhone OSX.

It will be very interesting to see what applications are finally on the iPhone when it is released in June, 2007, and how the hardware evolves over time. For my own part, I would need ways to receive, view, access, edit and transmit documents, spreadsheets, presentations, images, PDF formatted files, eBooks and outlines - just as I have now with my Lifedrive [4GB] paired over Bluetooth to my phone [as stated, total cost $349]. For now, WiFi might be able to make up for the lack of 3G wiki(HSDPA) data speeds. I already am a Cingular customer... Well, with all that, maybe, just maybe... Maybe not.

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