Apple WWDC 2009 and new iPhone thoughts

Geeks around the world have been excited lately. 

First there was the annual computer games and electronic entertainment conference called E3 last weekend.  And then yesterday, Apple held its annual developer conference called WWDC.

At these conferences, there are stands with the latest gadgets and software on demo.  But they also host major keynotes – presentations – by major computer companies, where they unveil their latest products and offerings.

I haven’t been to one of these geek meccas before, but from the video footage and live blogs, geeks will excitedly applaud, cheer and even boo announcements as they are made.

Weird?  Not really.  I was thinking of waking up at 1AM Perth time to follow the announcements live, but…  I was too tired 🙂

So what’s new for iPhone users in the near future?

—–

A new iPhone 3G S

The new iPhone 3G S is an updated version of the current iPhone 3G.

Improved performance
The new iPhone 3GS is faster.  It’s interesting because the video demo on the Apple site seems to place quite a bit of importance on this.  I wonder if it’s their way of saying, “We don’t need multitasking because it’s so fast to start a new application anyway”.  I know this argument doesn’t really cover background processing, but maybe push technology is meant to cover that problem.

The “S” is for speed.  I wonder if the existing iPhone should be called iPhone 3G S too, where “S” means slow instead!

New 3 megapixel camera
The new camera has a few more pixels.  Doesn’t really make me that excited, plus I’m quite happy with the photos from the iPhone so far.  But the autofocus and tap to focus are much welcomed.  I couldn’t find much details, but it seems that the camera will focus and do some sort of spot metering for the spot that you touch on the screen.  I guess focus lock is not an issue if you can click anywhere to focus, but it would be nice to have independent exposure controls, an exposure lock or separate exposure tap.

Built in video camera with editing
The video preview of this looks great!  I love how easy Apple have made it to edit videos once you’ve taken it. As a parent, this is invaluable.  One less gadget to bring to the local park.

Voice Control
Be able to phone people, change songs, etc. just by speaking to your phone!  Sounds great doesn’t it?  But from the video preview, it appears that you need to press/hold the single menu button on the iPhone to “activate” or “start” listening for voice commands. 

This sucks!!  I just want to be able to talk to the phone without touching it at all!!  Maybe supply some sort of “activation” word that you can use so that everyday conversations won’t make your iPhone do things out of the blue.   For example, if I’m driving and want to phone someone or change music tracks, I don’t want to go reaching for that button. 

But not having to “train” the iPhone (as far as I can tell) is good.  I wonder how similar the voice recognition technology is to Sony’s voice control in the latest SingStar games.

Digital Compass
About time!  This will tell you which way you are pointing your phone. There’s been a few times when I’ve driven to somewhere new using Google Maps, stopped to check the map, but then realised I didn’t know which way I was facing.  I’d love to see this combined with streetview! I’d hope that you should be able to spin around physically and the images in streetview should line up with what you see live.

Maybe they should have added some reference tilt capability too.  Imagine the applications in astronomy!!  You would then be able to aim your camera at a part of the sky, and an application would be able to tell you what stars or constellation you’re looking at.  Or alternately, show you arrows to help you move your iPhone so that it’s pointing to a particular planet that you’re looking for.

Better battery life
Can only be a good thing.

—–

A new iPhone OS 3.0 Software Update

This was announced a few months ago, but basically, Apple are about to release a new OS/firmware, that will be used on the new iPhone 3GS, but also existing iPhone’s can be updated too.

Cut, Copy and Paste
I know people on the web have been screaming for this, but to tell you the truth, I’ve never really needed it so far. 

MMS
Yay!  Send photos and videos using SMS.  About time!!!  Although, to tell you the truth, I’ve gotten away with emailing photos to my Wifey lately.

Spotlight Search
Adds the ability to search for anything on your phone.  Spotlight is the search technology/term on Apple Mac computers. 

I’m actually looking forward to this.  Just the other day, I was trying to remember where I’d seen something on my iPhone. 

Landscape keyboard
I’ve never really had the need for this.  But I know that others on the net have been craving this.

Voice Memos
There are third party applications that do this already, and I’ve never used them except for novelty purposes.

—–

If you already have an iPhone and don’t plan on upgrading soon, Gizmodo have made a clear chart that shows exactly what you can get with the new iPhone OS on your existing iPhone here – http://i.gizmodo.com/5283468/iphone-3gs-vs-iphone-3g-feature-chart-comparison

More info on the Apple WWDC 2009 at Wired’s live blog coverage – http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/06/liveblog-wwdc09/

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