Tagged iphone

A true cell phone / landline hybrid?

While last week saw the much-promoted and heavily-anticipated arrival of the iPhone, another significant advancement in wireless telephone service slipped almost under the radar. German-based telecommunications giant T-Mobile announced the addition of a new feature known as HotSpot @Home, which allows subscribers to use their cell phones over their home wireless network, with unlimited calling, for about $10 a month. For anyone who’s had problems with weak service in their house, or who wants the ability to use their cell number as their primary number, this service has been a long time coming. I personally don’t have a land line at home, but sometimes my cell phone won’t ring in certain parts of the house, and of course, mucho daytime minutes can cost mucho dollars, so cell phones have historically tended to make good land line substitutes only if you could call after 9pm. If only I had T-Mobile service as far north as I am, but no such luck.

As far as the technology goes, ZDNet’s review found a lot to like about the service, and just a few criticisms, chief among them that the service only works with two phones right now.

The bottom line: Despite a few problems when transitioning between cellular airwaves and wireless networks, the T-Mobile HotSpot @Home service is a great idea. You can save money, get better reception, and possibly even get rid of your existing landline. However, we would wait until the service supports more phones.

T-MobileAnother interesting note about the service: since T-Mobile’s approach to wireless has been targeted at family plans in the U.S., you can also purchase the @Home plan for up to 5 phones for only $20 a month, meaning each member of the family can have a private line with unlimited minutes, a feature that will surely have parents rushing to the store in droves.

t-mobile, tmobile, cell phone, cellphone, wi-fi, wifi, iphone, hotspot, hot spot

My BlackBerry is better than your iPhone

Our resident Apple toady made a passing remark this morning to me after seeing a colleague’s new iPhone, something like this: “Hey, his iPhone’s better than your BlackBerry.” Now, my BlackBerry is about three years old, nowhere near top-of-the-line, yet that horribly biased statement got me thinking. After all, it’s undeniable that the iPhone’s Mac OS X-based environment is slicker and prettier than the BlackBerry’s rather austere JAVA environment. But the point of a smartphone is, for lack of a better word, to be smart, and the BlackBerry still does a better job.

It boils down to one thing above all else, beyond the minor problems like no expansion slots and no one-touch phone dialing (the other half of ‘smartphone’): no 3rd-party apps. Apple, as has always been their hallmark, wants to keep everything in-house, so we get a phone that shows Youtube, but not Flash-based content on the bundled Safari browser. And, we get a phone that can do barely a tenth of what my JAVA-based phone can. Here’s what my BlackBerry can do right now that the iPhone will never be able to do:

  1. S/FTP access
  2. Remote Desktop access
  3. VNC access
  4. SSH
  5. Opera Mini browser
  6. SharkModem tethered modem software

The list goes on, but the point is that RIM made a good decision to go with a technology that was demonstrating itself both universal and capable of being deployed on handheld devices. All of the apps I’ve mentioned are 3rd-party, and I’m not counting gadgets like Gmail which may be on both phones. Apple decided to keep everything tightly under wraps, and now they’ve delivered a phone that’s glitzy and slick, but also inherently limited in scope. And that’s why the BlackBerry line is still better.

blackberry, iphone, apple, itunes

Things the iPhone can’t do

The iPhoneGizmodo has released a short bullet-point list of the features the iPhone doesn’t have. These are not just annoyances, like the fact that you can’t really dial a number without bringing up a virtual keypad; they’re full-blown problems that should remind everyone that, when it comes to copyright protection, only Apple sees themselves as more invulnerable than Microsoft. I’ll explain in a minute. First off, here’s the list:

• Songs as Ringtones
• Games
• Any flash support
• Instant Messaging
• Picture messages (MMS)
• Video recording
• Voice recognition or voice dialing
• Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Streaming (A2DP)
• One-size-fits-all headset jack (May have to buy an adapter for certain headphones)

Stuff we already knew it didn’t have
• 3G (EV-DO/HSDPA)
• GPS
• A real keyboard
• Removable battery
• Expandable Storage
• Direct iTunes Music Store Access (Over Wi-Fi or EDGE)

Let’s recap. Clearly, Apple went for the multimedia experience here, and a keyboard and buttons would’ve just gotten in the way. Now, why doesn’t the battery come out? Didn’t Apple learn from its previous iPod debacle that preventing customer access to easy replacement for a part that is known and expected to wear out is a terrible business tactic? And on a similar note, it’s great to have 4 or 8 gb of storage built in, but what if I want to save some mp3s on a miniSD card on my computer, then put it in the iPhone to play? Never mind that, actually. iTunes’ “you don’t really own the song you just bought” mentality will surely wipe any musical bit or byte right off any external card or device. It gets better, too. Since you only bought your iTunes mp3 to listen to on mp3 players, you can hear it on your iPhone, but not as a ringtone. Why? Because then they can’t sell you a 30-second excerpt of the same song for another $2 fee.

Furthermore, it’s clear that the phone itself isn’t the leap forward in technology that Apple claims it will be. The recent ad campaign which features Youtube on the iPhone cleverly masks the fact that the phone doesn’t have Flash support, meaning it couldn’t play Youtube videos through its mini Safari browser, only through the proprietary app. Other multimedia content, in other words, is out of reach, making the Youtube offering just a semi-useless carrot to entice the teen crowd. Also, Mossberg’s review of the typing says that, while the iPhone did a good job of guessing what he’d typed (it can’t be possible to push the right ‘virtual’ key on a tiny touchscreen keyboard all the time), it wasn’t as smart as the Blackberry’s word recognition.

Finally, of course, the thing only runs on AT&T’s recently acquired EDGE network, which certainly won’t help me where I live, and probably will only work (and slowly) for people in major metropolitan areas. Plus, the iPhone’s $499 (for the 4gb) or $599 (for the 8gb) price tag is deceptive when compared to other phones, since there’s no way to get a discount on the iPhone with a new service contract. In other words, a BlackJack, which lists at $199, but is free with most contracts, is actually a full $500 cheaper than the iPhone, not merely $300. Just another way for Apple to suck more of its annual tithe out of its devout following of trendies.

apple, iphone, features, flash support, youtube, at&t, edge, cingular, expandable storage, mp3 ringtone