TECH TALK: Apple iPhone: Features

As Apple prepares to release its iPhone with AT&T later this week in the US, the expectations are that the mobile industry is set to be changed. The expectations surrounding the release of the iPhone have been sky high ever since Steve Jobs made the announcement earlier in the year, even though it has widely anticipated that Apple would launch a mobile phone. (Engadget covered the January announcement of the iPhone.)

So, what is it about the iPhone that, despite its $500 price and locked down status, makes it such a desirable device? Let’s start with the features, as outlined on Apple’s iPhone page. iPhone is a revolutionary new mobile phone that allows you to make a call by simply tapping a name or number in your address book, a favorites list, or a call log. It also automatically syncs all your contacts from a PC, Mac, or Internet service. And it lets you select and listen to voicemail messages in whatever order you want just like email.

Wikipedia has more: The iPhone’s functions include those of a camera phone, a multimedia player, mobile phone, and Internet services like e-mail, text messaging, web browsing, Visual Voicemail and wireless connectivity. iPhone input is accomplished via touchscreen with virtual keyboard and buttons. The iPhone is a quad-band GSM phone, though Jobs mentioned in his keynote that Apple has a “plan to make 3G phones” in the future. Apple has filed more than 200 patents related to the technology behind the iPhone…The iPhone will be available from the Apple Store and from AT&T Mobility, formerly Cingular Wireless, with a price of US$499 for the 4 GB model and US$599 for the 8 GB model, based on a two-year service contract. Apple intends to make the phone available in Europe in Q4 2007 and in Asia in 2008.

One of the first things that strikes you about the iPhone is that there is no keyboard. Wikipedia writes:

The 3.5 inch (8.9 cm) liquid crystal display (320480 px at 160 ppi) HVGA touch screen topped with optical-quality glass is specifically created for use with a finger, or multiple fingers for multi-touch sensing. No stylus is needed, nor can one be used, as the touch screen requires bare skin to operate.

For text input, the device implements a virtual keyboard on the touchscreen. It has automatic spell checking, predictive word capabilities, and a dynamic dictionary that learns new words. Notably, the predictive word capabilities have been integrated with the dynamic virtual keyboard so that users will not have to be extremely accurate when typing i.e. touching the edges of the desired letter or nearby letters on the keyboard will be predictively corrected when possible. Additionally, an optional landscape mode for text entry with the virtual keyboard has been mentioned by Apple executives as a possibility for iPhone, but Apple has not yet come to a final decision as to its inclusion in the shipping version of iPhone. A possible advantage of landscape text entry would be the availability of larger keys to ease text entry, especially for individuals with larger fingers.

Tomorrow: Features (continued)

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.