Tag Archives | Smartphones

Apple's Stance on iPhone App Language is Silly. I Swear!

iPhone Censored[UPDATE: While I was working on this post, Apple decided to approve the Tweetie update in question after all, as I suspected it would. Good news. But I think the post remains relevant.]

[WARNING: Actually, I don’t swear in this post, but there are 150+ examples of one particular bad word in it. A very, very bad word. Mostly with asterisks, but three uncensored instances at the very end. Cover your little ones’ eyes; keep this post out of U.S. states with laws against public cursing. Thank you.]

This is just embarrassing. A new version of Tweetie, the most popular Twitter client for the iPhone–and probably the best-regarded one, too–has apparently been rejected from Apple’s App Store on the grounds that its trends feature, which can display popular Twitter hash tags, showed a hash tag that happened to be the F-word at the time that the app was in for review at Apple.  Never mind that the trends feature isn’t new to Tweetie, and that other iPhone Twitter clients have it. Or that every Twitter client may display dirty words if they show up in Tweets. Or that there’s no imaginable obscenity that the phone’s Safari browser isn’t capable of displaying if you know where to go, or happen upon examples accidentally.

Continue Reading →


Up For Auction: The Prehistory of the iPhone

Candlestick PhoneThis we know: Apple likes to release products which, in terms of general polish (if not features and reliability) feel as close to perfect as possible. This we can assume: It only gets there after making plenty of imperfect prototypes. And here’s what seems to be a rare glance of the process at work: German site iFun.de is reporting on an eBay auction for two iPhone prototypes from 2006, the year before the phone was announced–one running a primitive version of the iPhone OS.

I’m not expert enough to declare the auction legit rather than an enjoyable hoax, and the seller doesn’t explain the provenance of the phones. But judging from his feedback, he seems to be a solid eBay citizen, and the notion of getting a peek at a piece of Apple software that’s nowhere near ready for public consumption is fascinating. It lacks all of the final product’s visual splendor and contains some entertaining in-jokes (it claims it’s a Newton MessagePad 3000), but is supposedly in good enough shape to make calls and surf the Web.

iPhone Auction

Here’s a video on YouTube of the proto-OS in action:

As I write, the auction is in progress and bidding stands at $940. I suspect that Apple may ask eBay to pull the auction–it did so just a couple of weeks ago when an early iPod prototype went up for auction–but if the sale concludes successfully, someone will have himself or herself quite a conversation piece.

I still wonder, though: How would these rarities get out on the open market? You’d think that if any company on earth would keep careful tabs on its prototypes and get them back from whoever it entrusted them with, it would be Steve Jobs’ company….


The $99 iPhone Arrives. For Certain Folks, Anyhow. And Only Until Saturday.

bestbuylogoEvery time I buy anything at Best Buy, the cashier asks if I’m a Reward Zone member. And every time, I say no. (If I added any more cards to my wallet, it would burst.) But here’s a benefit of Reward Zone that, for some folks, is pretty compelling: Members can save up to $100 on an iPhone until next Saturday. There are a number of limitations–most notably that you need to belong already, so you can’t join to get the discount–but if you’re a Reward Zone Silver member, buy the 8GB iPhone, and sign up for a new AT&T 2-year contract, you can get the seemingly mythical $99 iPhone.

Considering that discounts of any sort on iPhones are hard to come by, that’s impressive–even considering that my advice for most would-be iPhone buyers right now is “Wait until June or so if possible–there’s a good chance that Apple will release a meaningfully better model by then…”


Mobile World Congress: What If the iPhone Didn’t Exist?

DonutI had a good time at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, but as big and bustling as the show was, it did feel a little like a donut: It was defined by a large hole at its center. That hole would be Apple, the one significant phone manufacturer who–as is its wont–chose not to show up.

Look at the major new phones introduced at the event, and you see iPhone inspiration almost everywhere, from hardware design to interface color schemes. Nokia and Microsoft both introduced apps stores that echo Apple’s app store. After I submerged myself in all this for a few days, I began to wonder: Just what would Mobile World Congress–and the smartphone biz in general–be like Steve Jobs and Apple had examined the cell phone market a few years ago and, after careful consideration, decided to keep out of it?

A few thoughts about that scenario after the jump.

Continue Reading →


Finally, Another Android Phone

Technologizer @ Mobile World CongressPart of the big news from day one at Mobile World Congress was that there was no big news involving Google’s Android mobile operating system: None of the scads of phones that made their debut ran it. On day two…Android news! Maybe not earth-shattering Android news, but significant enough: HTC, the company that made the first Android phone, T-Mobile’s G1, launched its second one, the Magic.

The Magic looks like a slimmer, sexier cousin of the G1: The latter phone tucks a slide-out physical keyboard under its touchscreen, but the Magic is all-touch. Jesus Diaz of Gizmodo tried one today and was mostly impressed, although he had his issues with the Magic’s on-screen keyboard.

HTC Magic

The Magic, like most new phones at Mobile World Congress, will arrive in Europe first, sometime this spring: Vodafone will sell it in the UK, Spain, Germany, and France, and it’ll also be available in Italy. No word on availability in the U.S., although you’d think T-Mobile might want to add it to the lineup.

The phone’s announcement eliminates the possibility of an Androidless Mobile World Congress, but I think the lack of much tangible advancement for the platform is still one of the show’s major stories. Multiple manufacturers have talked about unveiling Android handsets, but only HTC has managed to pull it off. The whole notion behind the OS is that it’s open and customizable and therefore well-suited to powering a variety of types of devices. We know what HTC thinks an Android phone should look like, and the Magic looks to be precisely what you’d guess a no-keyboard HTC Android model would be. I’m hoping we’ll hear from other quarters soon…


Mobile World Congress: Resolution Revolution

Technologizer @ Mobile World CongressI didn’t mention Toshiba’s TG01 in my roundup of Mobile World Congress phone debuts, since Toshiba avoided the rush by announcing the phone a few days early. I got a little hands-on time at Toshiba’s booth today, and while it turned out the prototypes on hand weren’t really ready for prime time–touch input was achingly slow when it worked at all–the phone’s screen resolution made a major impression.

The TG01 is one of several new phones at the show to sport a 480-by-800 display–others include LG’s Arena and HTC’s Touch Diamond2 and Touch Pro2–which gives it 2.5 times more pixels than the iPhone’s 320-by-480 screen. Toshiba also says it incorporated technology from its Regza flat-screen TVs into the TG01’s screen, and while I don’t know if that’s hype or mundane fact, the results are impressive.

What will more pixels bring to phones? Prettier interfaces, for one thing, since it’ll let typography look crisper at the same font size, for instance. And high-res phones will be able to fit more of a Web page or document on screen at once (although at some point it’ll be debatable if that’s a benefit–if text is too teeny-tiny it’ll cause eyestrain).

I’m not sure if any of the high-res handsets at MWC fully take advantage of the potential of the extra pixels–the iPhone has a slicker interface than the TG01 despite its resolution handicap. But I’m looking forward to what the technology will permit in future phones, and I’m wondering how long it’ll be until there’s an iPhone that matches it. Resolution is one of several ways in which the new phones at the show are leaping past Apple’s phone from a hardware standpoint–while continuing to lag it on the software front. More on that in a future post.

Oh, and when I do get a high-resolution phone it most likely won’t be the TG01: Toshiba doesn’t sell handsets in the U.S., and has no plans to bring this one stateside.

Toshiba TG01


Mobile World Congress: One Day, Sixteen New Phones

cheatsheetPhones. More phones. Phones that look a lot like iPhones, except for the ones that don’t. Phones that may never show up in the good old US of A. Phones that are full of style, and ones that seem to be devoid of discernible personality. That, in short, was my Monday at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where I spent the entire day bopping from press conference to press conference, learning about new handsets from most of the major manufacturers (as well as laptop titan Acer, which announced today that it’s getting into the phone biz).

I wrote about some of the day’s debutantes as I encountered them, but missed others. And while the show is teeming with journalists who are cranking out a surging sea of stories on all the announcements, I’m not sure if anyone’s trying to put as much as possible in one place.

So here’s a stab at a convenient, concise guide to nearly every new phone I encountered as of Monday evening (I left off a couple of far-off models which Acer mentioned only fleetingly and cryptically). Most of these phones have been announced only in GSM models, except for the two HTCs. Nobody revealed anything about American carriers today, although in some cases you might be able to make educated guesses.

The fact that a spec isn’t mentioned doesn’t indicate a phone doesn’t have it–in some cases, the manufacturers provided something less than full information, and I’m not trying to provide all the ones they did mention (all these phones have basic stuff like Bluetooth, and I stopped short of listing info like their dimensions and the media formats they support). If you know more about any of these models than I do, please speak up.

And one last note: Yes, I know that it’s increasingly tough to judge phones by their hardware specs. In the post-iPhone era, it’s the software that gives a handset much of its functionality and character. I didn’t get to touch most of these phones at all today, and certainly didn’t spend enough time with any of them to come to conclusions about the quality of their interfaces. But even today, specs and other basic facts mean something–and after the jump, I’ll give you plenty of ’em to chew on…

Continue Reading →


LG’s S-Class User Interface Enters the Arena

Arena TeaserAfter LG did its phone watch demo, it focused most of its Mobile World Congress press conference on its new Arena phone–especially its interface, which LG calls S-Class. It looks reasonably slick, and features innovative 3D navigation, with a rotating cube you can touch to…oh, let’s not pretend. The most striking thing about S-Class is the degree to which it mimics the iPhone, down to the rows of icons (some almost identical to iPhone icons) on a black backdrop. There are some places where LG may have introduced certain improvements to Apple’s idea–S-Class goes into landscape mode when you rotate the phone, and you can swipe one row of icons at a time to bring more into view–but it deals very heavily in the sincerest form of flattery.

S-Class is an interface rather than an OS: LG also announced the GM730, which runs Windows Mobile 6.1 but has the S-Class look and feel.

Hardwarewise, the Arena has a generous 800-by-480 pixels of real estate, both 8GB of fixed memory and the ability to take up to 32GB of MicroSD memory, and an FM radio, among other features. It ships in March in Europe (for US$600, presumably unsubsidized), and will show up in the U.S. eventually. Fuzzy photos I took at the press event after the jump.

Continue Reading →


Video Conferencing on Your Wrist, LG Style

I’m at the LG Mobile press conference at Mobile World Congress, where an LG exec just made the first public video call from one of the company’s watch phones (or is that phone watches?). Who’s that on the display? It’s a tad fuzzy in this image, so I understand if you guess Dick Tracy…but it’s really none other than Mr. Steve Ballmer.

LG Watch