19 June 2008

iPhone 2.0 Apps Could Alter The Way We Engage

Dear Judy,

Since the Jobs-note last Monday (9th), a lot of media attention has been focussed on the App Store and the coming features of iPhone 2.0.

Sadly, orders of magnitude more media attention has been focussed on the 3G iPhone - the highly anticipated, but hugely underwhelming revelation that it is.

The iPhone's new little (big) brother does address some of the more than glaring ommissions that the original was left wanting. And in my view it does finally justify the hefty price tag. But even this has been reduced! To the shock of all!

I shall definitely be getting a 3G iPhone as soon as my existing contract expires (especially as my handset is slowly falling apart).

There are still some issues that I have with the iPhone. These are more correctable with firmware updates than hardware changes, and save for any major improvements in carrier networks' hardware I don't see that there's much need for adding to the tech specs of the 3G iPhone anytime soon.

In my opinion, most gadget 'freaks' want the best of all their gizmos in one - the Buddhist (as i like to call them): one-with-everything types. This was (and still is) true of me... to a point. I've come to realise that it's not always best. So I care little about the quality of the camera in the iPhone. It's sufficient to know that it has a camera.

Little touches are more annoying: like the lack of a light, which I always find no end of uses for, besides for taking photographs. Or a non-removable battery - what the hell? These are about the only physical changes that would make the iPhone my perfect gadget (besides any changes to improve battery life and reduce cost of manufacture whilst improving end-user experience).

The real focus of this post though is the facility that we as end users are all being equipped with: a touch-screen interface. Here MultiTouch isn't such a big deal. Arguably it does provide a few more natural ways to interact with the operating environment, but it still has its challenges.

However, just having an all-purpose piece of touch-screen kit on the open market (and at a good price) presents some potentially new and exciting ways for us to interact with our other gizmos.

Many are already exploring the possibilities of controlling other devices using the iPhone and iPod Touch. What I would really like to see are practical applications for the majority, not just experimental things that are restricted to specific enterprises. I'm talking about controlling household appliances from my iPhone/iPod Touch.

I realise that it would require that any device that you want to control with your super-phone would need to be connected to the IP network and configured accordingly. But if manufacturers of these devices can be persuaded to see the potential, there's all sorts of wonderful possibilities.

Aside of my finger-marked status symbol becoming a universal remote control, it could provide interfaces and readouts for numerous appliances.

The real beauty of it is that a touch screen is not limited by what it can display. There's no fixed set of commands. You don't have to provide overlays to provide the right input. It's all customisable and application-specific. It's intuitive and easy to learn.

The iPhone is the start of many similar devices making their way into our homes. If we can come up with some useful applications it may be the only one we will need!

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