POST: iPhone Beta Ends- World Rejoices!
June 9th 2008 will long be remembered as a turning point in mobile computing. It is the day that, for all intents and purposes, the iPhone came out of its year-long beta period.
"Year long beta period?" you might ask… "Hasn’t the iPhone already been a runaway success? Hasn’t it already changed the face of hand-held computing forever? Beta?!?! The iPhone already owns a huge percent of the mobile marketing. You call THAT a Beta?"
Yes, We Do!
Sure, when the iPhone first made its way into consumer’s hands back in July of 2007, it wowed many. It also, however, angered many. And for good reason.
The first generation iPhone was beautiful. It was, on many levels, a work of art. However, it was also controversial.
The hardware was revolutionary. It was thin and relatively light, yet had up to 8 gigbytes of storage. (During the year that jumped to 16GB.) It was simple. The iPhone had only three hardware buttons in total. Instead of a physical keyboard it depended on a revolutionary touchscreen interface for most data entry. Many swore the virtual keyboard would never work for data input and while many have changed their minds, others continue to consider it a deal breaker.
While its battery life was as good or better than any other smartphone on the market, it came, to a large extent, as the result of the iPhone’s lack of a 3G radio. When away from the availability of WiFi, Edge data speeds were all that was possible. Moreover, its lack of a user replaceable battery was an issue in and of itself.
The software side of the iPhone was similarly problematic.
It was a closed system that relied on syncing the device with iTunes for most data entry and updating. This also meant that over-the-air syncing was not possible. Support for MS Exchange was nowhere to be found. And while many of us moved from Outlook to Gmail in order to get an iPhone, others, especially those in a corporate environment, could, or would, not.
And Edge wasn’t the only problem with the iPhone’s radios. The Bluetooth radio was crippled, offering only hands free wireless. Stereo bluetooth was out. As was the use of a bluetooth keyboard.
And it was locked. Yes, in the United States it was sim-locked to AT&T’s service, but that wasn’t the real issue. The real issue was that, unlike Windows Mobile, Palm and Symbian devices, the only programs allowed on the iPhone were those included in the firmware by Apple. This resulted in a lack of MMS, IM, a camera that did more than snap pictures and much more. And it ticked people off!
A game of cat and mouse between Apple and a variety of "rogue" (read- super creative!) developers began. The developers found ways to unlock both the sim card and the software lock. And software for "jailbroken" iPhones began to flow. And while some were excellent, few were from any of the major players in the mobile software develpment world.
And with each firmware update a new round of the game was played. The new firmware broke the jailbreak. The developers found new ways to re-jailbreak. And so it went.
What the developers and the iPhone users who jailbroke were saying was this:
"We like the concept. The hardware, while limited, is remarkable. The software, while limited, is great. But it is TOO limited and while we can’t do anything about the hardware, WE CAN AND WE WILL do something about the software."
The Jailbreakers understood that the Beta Period for the iPhone wasn’t about finding bugs, it was about under utilizing the iPhone’s potential for the initial period while Apple figured out what worked and what did not.
A remarkable article on the development iPhone by Wired magazine reinforces this fact. It explains that Apple’s initial goal was to develop a tablet PC. That project was shelved, or more accurately redirected. It eventually yielded the iPhone. The iPhone is very much the tablet PC from Apple. Or at least, we hope, the first tablet PC from Apple. It is a portable computing platform. It has all the ability of many computers and, in fact, it is more powerful than the computers available just a few years ago. It features full web browsing, it features a strong processor; constant connectivity between Wifi; Bluetooth; and cellular data. But the hardware and software limitations meant that it fell far short.
Yes, the original iPhone was remarkable. But it was, in fact, a beta. A successful Beta but a beta nonetheless. It was a phenomenally well received trial run.
The release of Firmware Version 2.0 and Hardware Version 2.0 usher in a new era in mobile computing platform.
The excitement in the buildup to WWDC was a clear indication that we are entering a new era. Usually WWDC is a small conference for developers. Not in 2008. 2008 is different. The new hardware and firmware of the iPhone are poised to turn it into a true palm-sized computer. And computers need software. Never before have developers been so excited about programming for a specific platform as they are with the iPhone.
June 9, 2008 means NEW HARDWARE, NEW FIRMWARE and 3RD PARTY APPLICATIONS VIA THE ITUNES APP STORE!!!
We are about to be flooded by iPhone applications. iPhone and iPod Touch lovers have been clamoring for additional software for almost a year. Developers have, too. And they are ready to meet the demand. And that’s the problem. There won’t be dozens of programs released in the next year– there will be hundreds or even thousands. There will be so many applications released that sorting through them to determine which are best will be a challenge.
That’s where www.whatsoniphone.com comes in
Our goal is to sift through many of the applications being released and provide easy to read reviews that come from the perspective of fellow iPhone users. We don’t want to provide you with technical jargon. We want to tell you-
Does it do what it says?
It is easy to use?
Is it stable?
Does it make good use of the iPhone’s interface?
And perhaps most importantly- Is it a good value?
We want to help you make the best decision as to which applications you want to download and buy.
But we are more than that.
We want WhatsOniPhone to be a community resource. We are as much about the user as we are about the applications. We want to find the best of the best in the sea of iPhone/iPod Touch applications.
That’s our mission here at www.WhatsOniPhone.com:
-to keep you up to date on the latest and greatest iPhone apps.
-to review newly released apps so that you can decide if they might be worth your time and money.
-to become the place where the iPhone community can share their experiences, their recommendations, their tips and their tricks
Who are we?
We are Mac and iPhone evangelists. More than that, we were all relatively recent converts to Apple and the Mac platform.
Dimitri is an entrepreneur. After 15 years of being a PC based world, he discovered his love of macs in 2005, and stood in line for his iPhone the day it came out.
Dan is a more recent Mac convert, had no intention of EVER buying an iPhone. That ended when he stopped by an AT&T wireless store on the way home from work one day in August of 2007 and actually held one. It was one of the quickest sales in AT&T history! He purchased his first Mac shortly after that.
Ron, a Mac, PC, and Unix programmer, is a new iPhone convert.
And Jamie, well.. Jamie continues to kick and scream as she moves deeper into the iPhone and Mac world, reluctantly.
We all love our iPhones and use them in our personal and professional lives and we want to help you do the same.
We hope that you will come and be part of it. When you use an application come and rate it. Share your insights and thoughts. Tell us which applications are best (or worst) and, perhaps, even join us in writing reviews.
June 9th is the day that the iPhone came out of Beta.
June 9th is also the day www.WhatsOniPhone.com was born.
We invite you to join us.