10 July 2007

The Redemption of the iPhone

With all the hype about the iPhone, I have to say that I have been more than skeptical. I have never been a fan of Apple's tendency toward an overly proprietary platform or the way that they strong-armed the use of particular applications (Safari for the iPhone's browser and iTunes for managing your iPod's music). While there are many arguments to be had about Microsoft's practices of strong-arming its users, Microsoft users remain jaded about the limitations and evils behind their choice of operating system where Apple users seem to be a bit more loyalist.

All this aside, I have developed a bit of respect for the iPod as I see its potential as a platform for on-the-fly transit information (such as that available through Google Transit). This is not something entirely new as Google mobile has made such applications available for web-enabled phones and PDAs for quite a while. The unique spin that the iPhone provides however is Apple's potential to make web-enabled phones an everyday device. Until the advent of the iPod, portable MP3 players were somewhat of a luxury item reserved largely for techies or those with excess funds. The iPhone stands to make accessing realtime information the standard and will probably push content providers to produce more information catered specifically for the format.

Headway has a pretty interesting summary of accessing transit information on the iPhone. I anxiously await further development in this arena and I also like that such mobile computing formats eliminate the need for devices that utilize more energy (i.e. laptops and desktops). I won't be purchasing an iPhone within the near future and will probably hold out to see if the rumors of the iPhone Nano pan out to be true (and hope that it branches out beyond ATT).

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