I knew there was a reason I was keeping my old Think Outside Stowaway Bluetooth keyboard from my Windows Mobile days. Windows Mobile and for that matter Blackberry and Palm had Bluetooth keyboard profiles in 2005. Apple has finally implemented the keyboard profile for both the iPad and now the iPhone.
The Apple keyboard profile is compatible with the Think Outside (acquired by iGo) StoweAway keyboard.
Here is a picture of my 5 row Bluetooth keyboard paired to my iPhone 4. The fn + key don't seem to work which makes sense but otherwise it is fully functional. There is also a smaller 4 row keyboard which is available on eBay northwards of $170. It has crossed my mind to sell it but I like the portability.
The month of June is such a great month for Apple iPhone users. We usually get access to the next hardware model and the latest major release of the iOS.
You have to give credit to Apple for plodding along on a regular basis delivering both hardware and software updates. Which other smartphone maker does that? I had been a long time Windows Phone user, tried Android and one of the most annoying aspects of owning a device using those OS' was the lack of regularity and delivery of updates to your specific device. Not that the iPhone is perfect (there is still room for much improvement, i.e. mail flags and Bluetooth AVCRP next/last track), but knowing that I will get regular updates and will not be forced to buy a new phone on a yearly basis (yes, the original iPhone is no longer supported) to receive those updates goes a long way to making me an Apple iPhone fan.
Since the days of gray scale LCD screens on PDAs, the stylus has been the invaluable tool which allowed you to precisely navigate the small screen. With killer applications like the venerable PhatWare Calligrapher, which converts hand writing to text, you can use the stylus to mimic the analog world of pen and paper. Along, with integration of cell phone technology, the hope of a converged hand held device for your mobile life was starting to become a reality. As cellular data and push email where implemented, the world was starting to be at one's stylus tip. Microsoft along with Palm were visionaries in understanding that the success of this new world was tied to the innovation of third party applications and there again the stylus played a key role in providing an easy way to access application functionality. Although, Research In Motion has proved, with its thumb keyboard, that not everyone was or is a stylus devotee. However without the stylus the BlackBerry never became an multi faceted application device. The Windows Mobile vendors adjusted quickly to that fact and offer the best of both worlds with physical keyboards and/or styli support.
Four years ago, Apple through a monkey wrench into the device design paradigm by introducing the iPhone, a device with no stylus or physical keyboard. Google Android has followed suit by providing a finger friendly OS which does not require a stylus but does allow for form factors with physical keyboards like the Motorola Droid. On the Windows Mobile front the HTC HD2 is the first device that I know of, that does not ship with a stylus. As we slowly move towards Windows Mobile 7, will the stylus become extinct? With the talk of capacitive styli (HTC HD2 stylus) for the new breed of touch sensitive screens, designers seem to be on the fence and if a majority of users are not clamoring for a stylus, over the next couple of years the stylus could become instinct.
What are your thoughts, do you use a stylus or do you prefer your finger?
My goal when traveling is to minimize what electronics I need to take with me to ensure some level of connectivity for voice and data. Since this trip was a vacation my computing requirements where email, basic multimedia entertainment (no HIDEF video playback required), basic photo editing (EXIF tag management), surfing, and flash media backup/storage. I also brought a Verizon HTC Ozone (thanks to the folks at Verizon Wireless for providing me the device and service) to test international roaming for an upcoming pocketnow.com article on how well you can travel with a Verizon Windows Mobile device.
Here is what I decided to pack:
Sony VAIO P 1.6GHZ Atom/128GB SSD. My experience was disappointing. For some reason the network drivers failed early on and I could only get connected in safe mode. I tried using a restore point but that did not work. I ended up just using it as my flash media backup and EXIF editor. I am now rebuilding it. I will be very happy to get the production Windows 7 drivers from Sony (hopefully they will release them on 10/22).
PowerBright XR100/12 mini power inverter. I have never been a big fan of power inverters, I would rather purchase the correct power supply for the job, but Sony does not seem to care about providing traveling power chargers for its notebooks so I was forced to purchase one. That said I actually used it more as a USB charger for my iPhone in a rental car (used Navigon) and on the United (EmPower plug required) flight back home. On our Lufthansa flight over to Europe we had 110V plugs (very nice touch).
iPhone 3GS 32MB
Jawbone BT headset. I never used it but it was good to have and small enough to carry just in case.
iPWR battery backup iPhone charger. This battery backup has been a life saver in the past but with email push turned off on this trip, I never used it but it is small enough to carry as insurance.
Sony HDR-CX12 HD Flash based video/still camera. I love this camera for the good quality 1920 HD video, the 10.2MP still pictures, the great 12x optical zoom and its diminutive weight in my hand.
And of course the Verizon Wireless HTC Ozone CDMA/GSM Worldphone.
The one item I did not bring and missed was my old D-Link Travel Hotspot device. Our hotel in Athens (AVA Hotel, by the way it was very nice) had wired internet and all my devices were WIFI only. Our remaining accommodations had WIFI.
On the services sides I signed up for the following before I left:
Boingo Mobile $7.95 per month. This was a total bust, never found a Boingo HotSpot I could use. I cancelled the service since with my Verizon FIOS WIFI feature (Verizon/Boingo relationship) and the iPhone's AT&T data plan I get plenty of WIFI coverage in the US. Bottom line check locations before leaving and look into iPass, I think they are more popular in Europe.
Skype Unlimited US/Canada landline/cell calling plan for $2.95 a month. It worked well (more on that later).
Verizon/Costco $30 international calling card. Worked well when we had access to a land line.
AT&T 50MB international data plan. I used the same iPhone strategy I posted about before and it worked well for me. I think this strategy along with Skype is a winner for getting around high roaming fees. I will update my post.
Verizon International plans (article on pocketnow.com coming soon).
The only connectivity service I purchased while on the trip was 250 minutes of Internet on our Regent cruise ship (more on that tomorrow).
Last week I was in the elevator when someone bemoaned having cracked their iPhone screen. I told them that Apple stores where now fixing screens, but they responded that they had tried Apple and had no luck. I decided to do some research and found that Apple does repair cracked screens for $199 but there are other solutions as well.
There is no doubt that cracked screens are a bummer since most of the time they can be avoided. Over the last 10 years of using a touch screen PDA and smartphones, I have cracked three screens. Both were on Windows Mobile devices (they were actually Pocket PCs at the time). I had them both repaired by PPC Techs and its predecessor company. They have always come through in a pinch and have done an excellent job repairing the device. They now also repair iPhones.
For the iPhone there are two other solutions; a do it yourself process documented by Jeff Carlson and taking your device to an Apple Store. If you are handy with small tools Jeff Carlson process looks pretty straight forward, but since the Apple store has a special tool to remove the screen from the device I would stick with them. The do it yourself process is obviously the cheapest but also the riskiest.
If you don't live near an Apple store I would recommend PPC Techs over the Apple ship in replacement program since you will end up with a refurbished unit rather than your device with a new screen.
Blogging from the iPhone listening to my music library using Bluetooth A2DP stereo streaming to my old Motorola DC800 home stereo adapter I reviewed back in 2006 on pocketnow.com. After re reading the review the problem with pairing the iPod (with BT adapter) was problematic at the time because you could not enter the required 0000 pairing code. That is not a problem with the iPhone and it works very well with the iPhone OS 3.0. Although AVCRP remote control does not impact this configuration, I would love to understand why Apple left out the functionality.
Another point: I was able to write a blog post and stream using Bluetooth back in 2006 on Windows Mobile. Sometimes it seems we have to take one step back to take two steps forward..
AT&T never promised delivery on the 19th, but said they would try; with the help of FedEx my iPhone 3G S arrived at 11:33am on the 19th . Thanks AT&T. Setting it up took a little time but the instructions are fairly straight forward.
Charge the iPhone (that took about 1 ½ hour)
Activate with iTunes (that took about 10 minutes). iTunes asks if you want to restore from a previous backup, I said yes. The restore was very quick and when completed the restore was lacking my applications and music. After some research I found a drop down window which displayed multiple backups from my 3G with the same name (another iTunes rant: why aren't the backup dates displayed?). Instead of trying to figure which backup was valid, I plugged my 3G back in, changed the device name (click on iPhone name in left bar to edit), manually forced a backup (the backup name is the iPhone name). Then I plugged my 3G S back in and did a restore using the backup I had just created (new iPhone name). This time the restore took a little more time but everything went back into place, even the location of the applications on the Home screen. Pretty cool (Hey Microsoft take note).
The instructions tell you to check voicemail, my Visual Voicemails where restored correctly. I never checked the real mailbox but everything seems fine.
The next step is to activate the phone itself online @ http://att.com/activation or by calling 855.895.1099. I activated online and was told to wait at least 15 minutes. My 3G S screen displayed a message that "Activation could take some time". After about 15 minutes I rebooted the unit and voila my iPhone 3G S was now active on the AT&T network. The iPhone 3G S came with an installed SIM so there was no swapping required. When I activated online the new SIM card was automatically registered (all I needed was my phone number).
This was the easiest Smartphone upgrade purchase and setup I have ever had. Kudos to Apple and AT&T since waiting in any kind of line is not my cup of tea. I drove by the Clarendon, VA Apple store yesterday and there was a line but nothing even close to the last 2 years. Clearly offering pre ordering to customers is the way to go…
My 3G INCIPIO silicon case (which I love), fits the 3G S perfectly. If there are new design cues on the 3G S, I can't see them.
My impression so far; the 3G S is faster but it is not like night and day. As I speculated before this is clearly an evolutionary design and if you are happy with your 3G there is probably no need to upgrade, but if you have a 2G then this is the device you want…Still I do love the autofocus on the camera and the compass is a nice feature. I have not tried the video or the voice control yet…
The saga of bringing SlingPlayer to the iPhone has been a real soap opera, but the release of the application even though crippled by the lack of 3G functionality is still a milestone. Sling Media confirmed it was building a SlingPlayer for the iPhone last March, a year later they submitted the application to Apple. Since then it seems that AT&T, Apple and Sling Media have been in a tussle over whether to allow the Sling Player to stream over the 3G network. AT&T even modified its Terms of Service to block Sling Player type applications to use its network, and then rescinded the change. Last week they reinstated the ban on with this language: "Applications like this, which redirect a TV signal to a personal computer, are specifically prohibited under our terms of service". They equate the iPhone to a personal computer.
With the release of SlingPlayer, according to engadget, last night AT&T felt compelled to issue a statement on the subject (I could not find the official statement), but engadget published this:
"Slingbox, which would use large amounts of wireless network capacity, could create congestion and potentially prevent other customers from using the network. The application does not run on our 3G wireless network. Applications like this, which redirect a TV signal to a personal computer, are specifically prohibited under our terms of service. We consider smartphones like the iPhone to be personal computers in that they have the same hardware and software attributes as PCs.
That said, we don't restrict users from going to a Web site that lets them view videos. But what our terms and conditions prohibit is the transferring, or slinging, of a TV signal to their personal computer or smartphone.
The Slingbox application for the iPhone runs on WiFi. That's good news for AT&T's iPhone 3G customers, who get free WiFi access at our 20,000 owned and operated hot spots in the U.S., including Starbucks, McDonalds, Barnes & Noble, hotels, and airports. AT&T is the industry leader in WiFi."
It almost sounds like AT&T is apologizing for the inability of its network to handle the potential load. You could view this as a brave move on their part, essentially admitting to capacity weaknesses in their network and it the end saving them from more network performance issues which have plagued them since the release of the iPhone. Maybe Verizon should promote the fact that their Terms of Service does not block this functionality; under their Permitted Uses section they state that "(iv) uploading, downloading and streaming of audio, video and games;" is permitted.
As everyone in the blogosphere is pointing it out, there is no mention that the 3G functionality is available on the version of SlingPlayer for Windows Mobile and Blackberry devices, although I think the Terms of Service also covers those devices, so I guess I can longer use my Windows Mobile SlingPlayer on their 3G network.
Although the SlingPlayer for iPhone lack 3G connectivity, it is priced at $29.99 in the App Store the same price as for other mobile platform with 3G support. I went ahead and purchased it and I have to say that the user interface is pretty cool. Hopefully with their planned network upgrades, AT&T will allow 3G functionally sometime in the near future.
Apple sold 3.8 million iPhones last quarter in 81 countries; 1.6 million of those were activated on the AT&T wireless network. Approximately 640,000 of those were new AT&T customers. Those are great numbers but not as impressive as the total combined iPhone/Touch count of 37 millions. In March Apple announced that they had reached the 30 million mark at the end of December 2008, which means they sold 3.2 million Touch in the first quarter and through March 30, 2009 have sold 20.8 million iPhones and 16.2 million Touch.
Even though the Touch is not a phone, it is a email/internet capable mobile computing device. If you include the Touch in a Windows Mobile/Blackberry comparison, the iPhone OS platform leaves Windows Mobile in the dust and it is fast on the heels of the Blackberry. As Apple has dominated the mobile Music Player world, it looks like they are on track to dominate the mobile email/internet mobile computing device marketplace.
With comments from Verizon and AT&T lately, it is also clear that sooner or later a bidding war may erupt for exclusivity once the current contract with AT&T is up, Verizon has their 4th generation LTE network is running, and Apple delivers an LTE capable device. I would love to see an iPhone LTE device available on both networks. This would let AT&T go head to head with Verizon on network coverage and performance, but I am afraid Apple won't be able to refuse the cash incentives.
Gartner just released their 2008 Smartphone sales estimate this week. On a device manufacturer basis Apple came in 3rd place behind Nokia and Research In Motion (RIM). On an Operating System basis, Apple's OS X came in 4th behind Microsoft's Windows Mobile. Nokia's Symbian was 1st and RIM's Blackberry OS was 2nd.
The interesting number in Gartner's report is the growth between 2007 and 2008 worldwide market share:
The Symbian 2007 market share was 63.5 %, and 2008 was 52.4%; a decrease of 11.1 points, a 17% loss.
The Blackberry OS 2007 market share was 9.6% and 2008 was 16.6%; an increase of 7 points, a 73% increase.
The Windows Mobile OS 2007 market share was 12% and 2008 was 11.8%; a decrease of .2 points, a 2% loss.
The OS X 2007 market share was 2.7% and 2008 was 8.2%; an increase of 5.5 points, a 204% increase.
My take on these numbers is that the real race is between the Blackberry OS and OS X, while Symbian and Windows Mobile have the most to lose. The questions for 2009 will be whether Apple can break the Blackberry corporate hold with their 3.0 release (March 17th SDK announcement), is Microsoft's slide real or just a blip, and will Palm make a miraculous comeback with the Pre.
As with any statistics you can view the numbers in many different ways and come up with your own conclusions.