iPhone Ringtones: Where did they go?

26 06 2007

The newest iPhone video came out today, and it shows an iPhone being synced using the iTunes application.

Something is missing, there is no “Ringtones” tab to be seen in the video, something we did glimpse in the January keynote video.

Uh-oh. Can you easily set up any tune you own as a ringtone? Will you have to stick with the set of ringtones that come with the phone, as seen in the guided tour video? Will you have to buy special ringtones from the iTunes store?

We need to know!

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Fifty possible iPhone features: What we know and don’t know about them

20 06 2007

It’s one week before the iPhone arrives. Here is a list of fifty of typical smart phone and iPod features, and what we know and don’t know about them when it comes to the iPhone. It’s going to be fun finding out what’s in this thing!

Accessory Car Charger

Accessory Car FM Transmitter

We know that most accessories that plug into an iPod docking connector should also work with the iPhone. So as long as the accessory physically fits, there is a good chance it will work.

Alarm Clock

Time Zones

We know there is a clock icon on the home screen, but we have never seen it. It seems likely that the clock will have at least one Alarm. We also know there is a Calendar icon, but we have not seen that application, either. It seems obvious that the calendar will include appointments with alarms. Will the clock show multiple time zones? Will the phone adjust itself to whatever time zone you are in? This seems likely, as the cellular system can adjust the phone to local time.

Bluetooth Phone Headset

Bluetooth Stereo headset

We know that the phone has Bluetooth + EDR. As an iPod, it seems likely that stereo Bluetooth will be supported. We know Apple will be offering at least two in-ear Bluetooth headsets that are monaural. We don’t know if Apple plans to sell any stereo Bluetooth headphones.

Bluetooth ModemBluetooth is supported, but will you be able to tether your laptop using Bluetooth such that your laptop can connect through it to the internet? We don’t know. I suspect this capability will not be included in the first model.

Battery Life

Apple has given us claims for battery life. These are maximums, but it looks to me that in the real world, the battery life will not be a major point of complaint. If you are like me, you’ll be using your iPhone constantly. WiFi, audio, and video use a lot of battery, and there never will be enough.

Calculator

We know there is a calculator icon on the home screen, but we have never seen the application. Will it be a simple four banger? Will it have advanced math and programming features? Will it be a graphing calculator? We don’t know.

Camera FlashCamera Low Light PerformanceThe camera has no flash. We don’t know what kind of performance it will have in low light. My guess is the camera will perform about as well as the iSight cameras on Apple laptop computers. That’s fairly good for a fixed focus camera without a flash.

Camera Autofocus

Camera Image Stabilization

Camera Macro Focus

Camera Video

Camera Zoom

We don’t know about any of these features. Will there be video, can 

Connect to international carriers

Connect to other US carriers

The phone uses the GSM standard, and it has all four possible frequencies. AT&T only uses two of the four. Since the other two exist, it only follows that the phone is International and should work outside the USA. But can you put in a SIM card from another company and have it work? We do not know. I suspect not on this model, not unhacked out of the box.

Dialing by Voice

Can you do voice dialing? There has been no hint of this feature anywhere.

Document Viewer

We know there is a Notes icon on the home screen, but we have not seen the application. Is it utterly simple, like Stickies or the notes function on the iPod? It is straightforward with a bit of simple formatting like TextEdit? Will it open or edit Word, RTF, spreadsheets? I suspect it will be able to display PDF files, at least.  The fact that this application exists implies that there is a document system of some kind. Are there folders where we can save our notes? Can we download or transfer files and see listings of our documents? We do not know.

EMail Periodic Check

EMail Push

EMail to groups

We know we have EMail and that it supports POP and IMAP. It seems likely that you will be able to set it to periodically check for new mail. What about push mail, which notifies you instantly when mail is sent? We know Yahoo is going to give us free push mail on the iPhone. But what about other systems? We do not know the extent of what we can connect to with the Mail system. Can we collect contacts into groups and EMail to a group?

Firmware Updates

We do know that the software in the phone will be updated from time to time. It seems clear that updates will be obtained on your home computer via the Internet, and then will be synced into your phone through iTunes. Thus, it will work exactly like iPod updates. I suspect we will see rather frequent updates, and that they will add very significant new features.

Flight Mode

Most phones have a flight mode, which turns off the cellular radio, while still allowing use of other functions such as playing music. It seems obvious that there will be some kind of flight mode on the iPhone – there are many non-phone functions that could be used.

ProfilesAre there profiles? Profiles typically change a collection of settings, such as silent mode, flight mode, wallpaper and other stylings, ring tones, and so on. We do not know if there is any type of profile system in the phone.

GPS

There does not seem to be a GPS chip in the phone. This does not necessarily mean the phone doesn’t know where it is. All modern phones, in conjunction with the carriers, have a way of locating the phone, at least within a few hundred feet. It is possible that the phone might know what town it is in, for example. While not good for turn by turn street directions, this could still be useful in locating nearby places of interest. No such feature has been announced, however.

iPod Games

iPod Graphic Equalizer

iPod On the go playlists

iPods have these features, so why not the iPhone? Game software is specific to the CPU chip, so the games that work on iPods may not work on an iPhone. I suspect iPod features such as graphic equalizers, speeded-up speech, and on the go playlists may appear on the iPhone. There have been no announcements.

iPod Portrait Video

We have seen photos, Internet pages, and record album covers change their orientation and appear in both portrait and landscape modes. But we have only seen video in landscape mode. It appears you will not be able to see video in portrait mode. On a related note, we have only seen demonstrators change from portrait to landscape mode by rotating the phone counter clockwise. Can you also rotate it clockwise? Does it adapt or do you get an upside down image? Also, does the phone have to be vertical when you rotate it? Will it sense rotation if it is laying flat on a table? We do not know.

Keyboard Predictive Text

Keyboard Dictionary Customization

We know that the keyboard uses a dictionary to make corrections as you type on the flat screen. But can you add your own words to the dictionary? We do not know. I suspect so, otherwise it will be difficult to type unusual words.

Keyboard in Landscape Mode

We have not seen the keyboard come up in landscape mode. What if a web page is being displayed in landscape mode, and you tap on a text field? Does the screen force itself to portrait mode as the keyboard appears? We do not know.

Record Phone Calls

Record Voice Memos

Obviously the phone has a microphone. Can you use it to record phone calls? Can you record voice notes? If the camera records video, does it also record sound? We do not know.

Ringtones

Ringtones Per Contact

Ringtones Per Group

We do not know much about ringtones. We have heard two different ones in demonstrations. Can you add your own? Can you use any of the tunes you have loaded into the iPod section of the phone for a ringtone? I suspect you can. Can you associate different rintones with different callers or groups of callers? We have seen that in iTunes itself, on the iPhone sync screen, there is a Ringtones tab. We have not seen the contents of this tab.

Safari Cookies

Safari Flash

Safari Java

Safari Javascript

The Safari browser is known not to support Java or Flash. It seems obvious you can’t have a browser without Javascript, and cookies will also be necessary. What kind of limitations are there? Can you limit the kind of cookies you accept? We do not know.

Safari Tabs

The Safari browser on the phone is known to support up to eight pages at once. These can be flipped thought like tabs.

Screen saver

The phone has wallpaper, and you can use any of your photos. But is there a screen saver? Can animated wallpaper or screen savers be used? We do not know.

To Do List

We have not seen any To Do list functionality. However, we know that Leopard has To Do items in iCal and in Mail, and we know the phone has both calendar and mail applications. So it seems very likely that there will be some kind of To Do function.

Vibrate

The phone does seem to have a vibrate function.

VOIP

VPN

Though these functions do seem to be possible with the phone hardware, no functionality of this type is announced, and it will be up to Apple to allow such functions in the future if they wish.

WiFi N mode

The WiFi seems to support b and g modes only, not the faster n mode. This makes some sense since the n mode generally likes to use multiple antennas to implement its high speed links.

 





Apple’s iPhone Web 2.0 AJAX Mumbo-Jumbo

12 06 2007

OK, Steve Jobs told developers they had a way to add applications to the iPhone. He said Apple wants to “expand the capabilities of iPhone by letting developers write great apps for it and yet keep the iPhone reliable and secure.” The “sweet solution” for this will be to use the full Safari engine inside the iPhone to write “amazing Web 2.0 and AJAX apps that look exactly, and behave exactly like apps on the iPhone. And these apps can integrate perfectly with iPhone services – they can make a call. They can send an EMail. They can lookup a location on Google maps.” As Web apps, you don’t have to distribute them to individual iPhones, just put them on the Web. And they can run securely, without compromising security on the phone itself. 

As an example, Scott Forrestal showed a corporate address book Web application. Using Safari, he went to a Web page. He typed into a Web page’s search field and it brought up a Web page with a list of names that looked a lot like the list in the phone’s native address book. He scrolled them up and down, tapped on one and a Web page came up with the person’s address information, and this Web page looked a lot like a native Address book page. He then showed that if he tapped a phone number on that Web page, he could initiate a call. If he tapped an EMail address, he could bring up an iPhone mail message pre-addressed ready for typing. And if he tapped a street address, it brought up the iPhone’s Google Maps facility showing that address.It was nice. And nice things can be done.

But how much of an iPhone app was that, really? The three Web pages involved seemed to be standard Web pages formatted to look like fields, lists, and information you would see on the iPhone’s native apps. And tapping specialized fields was something already shown in the January keynote as something you could do in any Web page. So what was special about this Web application that made it an iPhone application? Nothing I could see in that demo.

What I didn’t see was a way to write that Address book entry they looked up into the iPhone’s address book. Or a way to download the office layout image he bought up into the Phone. I suspect there isn’t a way to get any of that info directly into the phone, or to get any of the phone’s info directly out of the phone, because the point of this sandbox is to maintain the phone’s security.

You can make nice Web pages that do very nice things and we will see lots of useful Web apps, but to run them you have to host them apps on the Web, and users have to have access to the Web. This is not iPhone Software Development. Steve Jobs said “No SDK needed” and none is supplied either.We can still hope that in the near future there will indeed be a way to make stand alone applications that run on the iPhone. I was predicting in this WWDC we would see Steve tell us that the OS X DashCode application (which makes OS X widgets) would make Widgets that run on the iPhone, and that maybe next January we would see an iPhone SDK running in XCode. I’m still predicting that path will be followed. But when?





Why you shouldn’t worry about iPhone’s keyboard

8 06 2007

There seems to be a flurry of worry about the iPhone keyboard. People want the tactile feedback of real keys, it’s said. You can’t tell if your finger is in the middle of a key… You can’t touch type on it…

Phooey. These are not big problems on a phone keyboard. The only legitimate complaint about it will be that you can’t touch type on it. But how many people actually type on a phone keyboard without looking? A lot of people can type on a small keyboard quickly with two thumbs, and this should work just as well on the iPhone as on a phone with a lot of tiny physical keys.

What about the argument that you can’t tell if you finger is in the middle of the key? Well, Apple says they addressed this by using special software that makes corrections based on a dictionary and which keys are nearby to the ones you touch. They also address this by popping up the letters in large type above your finger as you type.

There has also been comments about how easy the phone, and typing on it, will be with just one hand. All the demos so far show the user holding it in one hand, while typing and pressing onscreen buttons with a finger on the other hand. Thi is simply for photographic clarity. It is going to be just as easy to press buttons with your thumb while holding the device in your palm curled in the other four fingers as it is on any other phone.

We are going to see people typing away on the iPhone just as fast as others do on their Blackberrys. Problems typing on the touch screen is simply a red herring issue.





Apple WWDC keynote: Here’s what Steve will announce

8 06 2007

First, he’ll talk about the iPhone. He’ll show a production model. He’ll talk about the tinyBluetooth headset bundled in the package. He will show the iPhone dock in the package that lets you plug in the phone and charge the earpiece. He will mention the iPhone dock connector is compatible with almost all current iPhone accessories that plug in to an iPod, especially the interfaces in many current automobiles. He will announce new iPhone interfaces in some cars that integrate both music and phone functions into the automobile. He will talk about the new stereo bluetooth headphones that are available and how great they sound playing music. He will mention iPhone’s software update system which happens through iTunes syncing. He will show functions he didn’t cover, including the calendar and notepad apps. The notepad is essentially the Mac Preview app and opens PDF, Word, Pages, and Keynote files. He will show new apps including Apple Remote Access and the GPS turn by turn directions tied into Google Maps. He will show printing to Bluetooth printers and over WiFi to printers on local networks. He will say DashCode widgets will run on the iPhone, allowing anyone to write simple iPhone apps. Oh, one more thing – he will sell iPhones to anyone at WWDC who wants one out in the hall right after the speech. WWDC attendees will be the first iPhone customers, two weeks before anyone else can get them.

Then he will talk about .Mac, which hasn’t been updated in a while. He will show full integration with the iPhone. He will show that .Mac will push EMail to the iPhone. He will show iPhone syncing directly with .Mac’s calendar, address book, and bookmarks. Oh, one more thing, a free year of .Mac comes with your iPhone.

Forty minutes in, he moves to Leopard. He will say everyone gets a full beta copy in their attendee goodie bag. A week later, it will be available for developers to download at ADC. It does not run on the G4. It will use a new default disk format called ZFS. Older formats will of course be supported, but you want to migrate your system disk over, as well as disks you want to use for Time Machine backups. This is for a few reasons. One, backups and Time Machine will be simple, fast and smooth, as ZFS makes snapshots of every change you make to your files as it goes. You will be able to set up very fine grain backups if you wish, not just being able to go back to a particular day, but even to a particular save. Another reason to switch involves Spotlight. Spotlight will be much faster and searches will be more detailed. Spotlight will be integrated into Time Machine and into more apps.

There is a completely rewritten Finder. It is much faster and much more efficient. It is more extensive in the way it displays and allows you to see and manipulate file metadata. It gives much better and faster access to Spotlight. Spotlight itself finds faster, is much more consistent in its interface, allows you to do much more detailed searches, yet is simpler to use. It is a very efficient app and file launcher, more like Quicksilver.

There is a new default User Interface look. Aqua is still available in the Appearance preference pane. The new look uses the unifies window look, colors tend toward smooth gray and blue gray. The look is flatter, more subdued. The look is similar to that in the current iTunes. Scroll bars are rounder, thumbs are blue gray. The look is made to fall farther into the background than Aqua, and be more neutral in color, to let window content be the focus.

Leopard fully integrates Multi-Touch into the system. Steve announces a new line of Multi-Touch displays available now. The new displays have a gray aluminum look, are thin, use LCD backlighting, and all have Multi-Touch ability. The displays can be oriented vertically, or placed flat on a table or at a low angle like an easel or tablet.

Leopard can be completely controlled by MultiTouch. Fingers can work as a mouse, tapping and dragging on the surface of the screen. Thus at this point, Macs can be controlled by a keyboard, mouse, voice, or touch, alone or in combination, and peripherals like the new touch displays will take advantage of that.

One more thing. One “remote screen” display model will be wireless and portable, around 10″ diagonal and 12mm thick, run on WiFi and uses Apple Remote Access to put a Mac’s screen on its own screen. This portable tablet is a display, not a computer, but works as a second screen to any Mac on a network. It can control all Mac functions remotely via Multi-Touch. It is available now.

There are a lot of predictions here, let’s see what comes true!





iPhone’s data throughput – Just you wait!

7 06 2007

The iPhone uses EDGE for its cellular data transmission. What’s up with that? AT&T already has a faster method called HSDPA, and that deployed in many areas, so why in the world didn’t Apple use it? Here are some answers.

Apple says EDGE is a good method, and of course the iPhone includes WiFi connectivity that is very fast, and WiFi is available in many places and there are more hotspots all the time. In fact, a lot of people already have WiFi in their homes, their friends homes, and theor schools.

Something we haven’t heard as of this writing are the actual speeds we can expect from the iPhone using any of these connections. We may get some surprises.

WiFi comes in several flavors. “B” can theoretically go up to 11Mbps, “G” up to 54Mbps, and N up to 200Mbps or more. Those speeds are never actually reached, however, and throughput depends on things like distance and the type of antennas used. The point is, it’s much faster than any cellular data transmission method deployed in the USA today.

EDGE can be theoretically as fast as 470Kbps. In reality, EDGE under AT&T in the real world yields perhaps 40Kbps. This is on a par with dialup speed, and that’s not saying much.

However, AT&T is said to be enhancing its EDGE service in time for the iPhone launch. We may be seeing throughput of 80Kbps on the iPhone im most places. That’s getting better! The iPhone might not be quite a pokey as everyone expects.

But what about HSPDA? It’s already out there on AT&T’s air. I believe AT&T is running it at 1.8Mbps. Now we are getting somewhere! It’s ten times faster than EDGE, so why isn’t this technology in the iPhone?

I think there are two reasons. One is that current chips that implement this in mobile phones are relative power hogs. The iPhone is already sniffing for WiFi and Bluetooth signals in addition to running a hefty CPU, a big chunk of memory, and a large bright display. It’s battery must already be stressed.

Here’s the thing. The iPhone version 2 is going to be a killer! Much lower power chips for HSDPA are already in the works. And AT&T is said to be cranking up their deployment of HSDPA to the maximum specified throughput of 14.4Mbps. That’s Ethernet speed! Imagine this kind of Internet connectivity on a phone. It is going to blow the doors off other US carriers, for example Verizon’s EVDO runs at 2.4Mbps.

I think this is a major reason Apple went with AT&T. Looking ahead, they saw AT&T is going to deploy, and fairly quickly, a very fast 3G data service. They also knew appropriate chips will be available that will let a near-future version of iPhone take full advantage of this system without killing the batteries. Steve Jobs said in his January keynote that 3G would be coming, and I believe this is what is planned.

So. I think the first iPhone will run EDGE twice as fast as people are thinking. And when a 3G iPhone does come, the over the air data throughput is going to knock people’s socks off! Let’s see what happens!

(I hope I have all these numbers right, if not, please leave a comment.)