Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Review Apple iPhone

The new iPhone arrived last week, so it is time to look at the new features and of course discuss some first applications.
To say something about the physical design of the device is probably rather personal, but I really liked the shape and feel of the first generation. The new curves have already been introduced with the second generation, but I never really grew to like it. It is all right if you are holding the iPhone in your hand, but if you are using it on flat surface it is rather annoying. Say it lies beside your computer keyboard on the desk, as mine usually does and you want to have a quick look at something. What you do is you press the home button to light up the screen and ...

Image by UrbanTick

The new power plug is amazing. That lovely little knob is exactly what it should be. What I am not sure is, if this till works with the older models. My first generation iPhone still had the little transformer with the plug, any experiences?
The material seems very sensitive to scratches. First thing I did is put on a screen shield. The back I left uncovered so far and the result of only six days is a fairly scratched back. Compared to the metal back the plastic is not very tuff.

A first thing to note is the keyboard, it is very responsive and now available in landscape. This makes typing texts easier and together with the new cut and past feature you have a full up text editing functionality, it even works for images and web content. Who needs more, all the word crap? You feel free and light with such a simple method of typing.
The other important feature is the navigation and the maps. To now have GPS, Maps and the Compass in the phone is very exiting. It works all right and Google maps do a good job. Even very basic navigation from A to B is possible, to getter with on screen instructions. The instructions are not location based and steps have to be switched manually, but nevertheless it is built in. The TomTom navigation was announced earlier this year at the WWDC, see earlier post and will definitely make a big difference. But this will be a paid app. The street view feature full screen is just incredible. Even if you work with the technology in the web and computer daily this is exciting!

Image by UrbanTIck - screenshot street view

Image by UrbanTIck - some of my iPhone screens

A quick look at some London focused applications for the iPhone. Of course we all are only waiting for the augmented reality tube direction application that is developed by acrossair. They are waiting for approval through Apple and for them to make it available in the iTunes store. Should be soon they say.

But in the mean time, there are some basic applications for tube use. There is a lot of free stuff out there so before you pay have a look in the free section and this is exactly what I do for now. Although the apps are usually on £ 0.50 to about £ 2.00, not much. Some research on app usage has shown that additional apps downloaded from the app store are used one for a couple of days, regardless whether free or paid for.
So back to the tube applications for London. I am looking at both, for travel and navigation, but even for journey optimization, TubeExits, if you are not a frequent commuter. It basically tells you to board which carriage in order to be in a good position at arrival.
Most appealing tube map comes with iTrans Tube. It is free and features a tube map that can be navigated, zoomed and a click on the station will bring up information about train times from this particular station. General tube line information is also available from Tube Status or Tube Info. Tube Info lets you access every single station on the line concerned, where as Tube Status only lists information about closures or maintenance. The TubeMap application combines all the above features, but is not very appealing graphically.
So to conclude there are a number of “get around London” applications for free available for the iPhone. I am sure there are more out there and if I come across some additional ones I will ad them. They suit commuters and visitors alike and are a must for everyone in the London area.

Of course for the work related to the blog here, the GPS and tracking applications are the most interesting bit. I have been testing some of them too and will review them later this week. For now I think everytrail still is in the top league. I am using it since the beginning of the year and it works well.

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