iPhone questions

iPhone The iPhone is one of those gadgets I’m awfully impressed by, and I certainly lust after, but I know full well that I do not need: I’m simply not out of the house enough to warrant owning a mobile phone of any sort at this point, and GSM coverage barely qualifies as marginal where we are. So I’m safe. But I’m still interested.

Two questions that came to mind yesterday while absorbing the information on this thing.

  1. It’s touchscreen — will fingerprints be an issue? Not as much as you might expect, apparently. Pogue: “Apple went through numerous iterations of the glass surface, trying to find one that’s not too slick or too rough, or that shows grease and fingerprints too much. You still get finger streaks, but they’re relatively subtle and a quick wipe on your sleeve takes care of them.”
  2. It runs a version of OS X — what about third-party applications? Too bad: user-installable applications won’t be allowed. That’s not as big a deal as you might think: no one in their right mind is going to run Word or Photoshop on this thing. But …

There are only so many things you might want to run on an iPhone — the apps that have been bandied about in comments around the web include VLC, a terminal, an RSS reader, an e-book reader, and Skype. Skype would raise alarms with the telco — and that’s probably exactly the sort of scenario they’d object to with an open platform. (Remember that few smartphones include WiFi for this reason.) VLC would be a little redundant: the workaround would be to convert the video to H.264 and sync via iTunes. A terminal would be handy for remote shell access, but too handy to get at the innards of the iPhone — but that’s something I expect to happen anyway: this thing will get hacked. E-books, and their multiple formats, are a problem that this thing won’t solve, but an RSS reader would be excellent, and something Apple should get on right away.

The interest in hacking and tricking out this thing is another issue that someone else can tackle. Someone will put Linux on it, for sure.

But here’s a thought: this thing has a full web browser, which means it can (presumably) run web apps. For example, once Google figures out Safari compatibility for its Doc and Spreadsheets, there’s your iPhone office suite. And any number of other online apps, including RSS readers. You may not be able to install apps, but I’m pretty sure you could code customized web apps for specific-to-iPhone purposes.