Today Apple finally released details about their new iPhone. There have been rumors and speculation about how Apple could bring it's iPod design skills to the mobile phone world for years now. Lots of web sites have posted predictions, feature wish lists, insider information and supposed leaks, including this one.
Does the iPhone live up to the hype? We'll take a look at it by going down the list of our 10 predictions about the Apple iPhone.
1. Simple controls. - Apple has struck a blow against the proliferation of buttons by creating a phone with only a few buttons and a large touchscreen. This is a welcome change from smartphones and PDA-phones which have a whole QUERTY keyboard. The keyboard is nice the 5 percent of the time I'm taking notes to texting, but 95 percent of the time they just make it harder to hit the button I do want.
2. Consistent controls - This is a little bit harder to judge without having an iPhone in hand to play with, but from the demos and the fact that the iPhone runs OSX it seems likely you won't have to learn totally different ways to navigate your voicemail, songs, and photos any more. At the very least Apple has solved the mystery of the Green â€œdialâ€? button and the OK button.
3. Innovative controls with obvious affordances - The iPhone's control scheme definitely falls into the innovative category, but is it's use obvious? Although I missed my guess about hanging up the phone, some of the features are automated responses to actions people are already very used to performing. The touch screen turns off when you put it close to your face, and the display shifts to landscape when you turn it. The learnability and obviousness of the individual applications which use the touch screen are a little harder to judge just yet (especially for old codgers), but it is nice to see the use of large, simple icons like the Palm or Blackberry rather that a Windows-style Start Menu, which just plain sucks on small devices.
4. Streamlined interaction design. - Apple has chosen to put Phone, Mail, Web and iPod icons along the bottom of the screen for ease of access. Presumably they expect other features, like the Calendar and Maps, to be used less often and so they are represented by icons filling the top of the screen. Assuming they are right about which tasks are most commonly used, this is a smart move. Calling and iPod functionality are obviously the biggies and are located appropriately at the corners in compliance with Fitt's Law. Will email and web browsing be as important? Millions of blackberry users say yes to the former, and built-in wifi make the latter possible.
5. No more disgusting face grease on your screen. - Unless the touchscreen is coated with some miracle material, maybe not. But wait - it looks like the solution comes in the form of the included hands-free headphones and optional bluetooth headset. I'm still a little surprised that the horror of gobs of face grease all over his beautiful device didn't push Steve Jobs over the edge. Apparently he can console himself with the thought that most people will use the headphones to listen to music and all the cool kids have headsets.
6. No more lock in - Not so fast. The iPhone is a Cingular exclusive, at least in the U.S., at least for now. It works on GSM, which is a widely used standard, and I am pretty amazed that Cingular is allowing a device with built-in wifi, but I will take this one as a failed prediction.
7. It will look really, really nice - This is, of course, completely subjective, but I have a feeling a lot of people will be lusting over iPhones when they hit stores this summer.
8. Integrated voicemail, chat, SMS and email - Hit the nail on the head with this one. This is the first device I've seen which takes the obvious step of allowing you to manage your voicemail the same way you do email. No more listening to 4 messages to get to the one you actually want to delete.
9. No camera - I was completely wrong on this one. The iPhone has a 2 megapixel camera built-in. I still think cameras on phones are really only used by drunk people and people with new phones. Maybe I have to add a new category, people who will soon be famous on YouTube.
10. Connectivity - The iPhone has bluetooth, Wifi, and EDGE meaning lots of potential for connectivity. Since it runs OSX, I'm guess that means the sky's the limit on how you connect and transfer files around. This is a very smart move â€“ get your customers used to using the Internet often enough with Wifi, and they'll start wanting to use it all the time with EDGE (and an expensive data plan).
So that's that - our record was 8 out of ten. Not bad for a site with no insider information.
What did we miss? Let us know in the comments below.