Apple Reinvents the Phone

3 min read Networks & Network Services
Yes folks after months of rumour and speculation Apple have finally announced the iPhone and it was well worth the wait. The iPhone is set to revolutionise mobile handsets as we know them.
Although your favourite mobile industry magazine predicted the iPhone last year, no one could have predicted just how amazing it would be.

Sporting a 3.5 inch 320x480 screen, the handset is 115mm tall by 61mm wide, and only 11.6mm thick, making it the thinnest smartphone to date according to Steve Jobs, Apple CEO, and weighs only 135g.

The glossy black iPhone has only one button, the 'Home Key', which sits at the bottom of the screen, that's it... just one, because this phone is completely touch screen. Using a new techology developed by Apple called 'Multi-Touch' which prevents accidental input, all keying is done with fingers, yes 'fingers' plural. Fast typing is supported letting you use more than one stabbing digit, and navigation functions can be altered depending on whether one finger is on the screen or two. Photos can be manipulated, and zoomed in and out by bringing your fingertips together or apart, and web pages can be  read easily using the multi-touch technology.

Contacts can be scrolled through with just a glance of a moving finger, spinning through the list as if it were on a wheel, then calls can be made as easily as touching a name or number. A favorites list can be constructed for your most frequently made calls, and calls quickly merged together to create conference calls.

When it comes to voicemail, messages are listed on the phone in much the same way as emails, allowing the user to select which message they want to listen to at a glance, as opposed to the current industry standard which involves listening to every message until you get to the one you want.

The iPhone includes an SMS application with a predictive QWERTY soft keyboard that prevents and corrects mistakes, making it easier and more efficient to use than the small plastic keyboards on many smartphones. The application links messages and displays them in a chatroom format making it easier to keep track of text conversations.

Two versions will be available, one with 4gb of memory and another with 8gb, either option allowing users to store thousands of songs. The iPhone uses a similar interface for music to the iPod style we already know and love but with a few differences. Flipping the phone into landscape allows browsing of albums like you were in a record shop, with track lists available to view simply by touching the album artwork.

On other smartphones selecting landscape mode can be a laborious process, often involving the need to tap one, maybe even two buttons. Apple have done away with that, the handset has an 'accelerometer' motion sensor, and simply rotating the phone through ninety degrees causes the phone to switch viewing mode immediately showing the entire width of a video, web page or a photo in its proper landscape aspect ratio.

As well as the accelerometer, the iPhone boasts a proximity sensor which detects when you lift iPhone to your ear and immediately turns off the display to save power and prevent inadvertent touches until the handset is moved away.

An ambient light sensor automatically adjusts the display’s brightness to the appropriate level for the current ambient light, thereby enhancing the user experience and saving power at the same time.

Running Mac OSx the handset gives a near desktop experience, including rich HTML email, full-featured web browsing, and applications such as widgets, Safari, calendar, text messaging, Notes, and Address Book. iPhone is fully multi-tasking, so you can read a web page while downloading your email in the background.

Normal web surfing can be achieved on the handset with the Safari application that current Mac users will already be familiar with on their desktop or notebook machines. Pages can be rotated from landscape to portrait and back again, then zoomed in and out to make text easier to read. Emails can be sync'd with a desktop machine, and viewed using Apple Mail.

The iPhone also supports Widgets. As Mac users already know, widgets are mini-applications that run in the background and can be called into use instantly, giving important information at a glance or allowing quick access to sites such as Google.

With a phone so ahead of its time you'd expect it to have a full compliment of connectivity options, and it doesn't disappoint. The iPhone uses quad-band GSM, the global standard for wireless communications. It also supports  EDGE networks, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR, which links to Apple’s new, compact Bluetooth headset.

Apple are looking to ship the iPhone in America in June, and we can expect a European launch by the end of the year. We can't wait.