Like all Macworld expos, Apple used their keynote forum to highlight several new products.
This is an “amazing looking device”:http://www.apple.com/iphone/. A full OSX system in a mini device, smaller than my treo, excellent screen (160 dpi), 4 or 8gb of flash for content, and a very new interface. The interface is going to be one of the most impressive features of this new phone (and future devices). For mac users, the basic apps that were displayed were very familiar, and amazingly crisp compared to competing phones. For those of us with other forms of _Smart Phones_, we can see the difference immediately. Around the office there are several Treo’s, Blackberry, Q’s, Blackjacks, and other windows based devices. None of them come close to what we saw in the demo.
Of the obstacles I see in this device, the biggest from what we know is that only Cingular carries it. I’m currently with Cingular and have not been impressed. If they have the least dropped calls as they claim, I’d hate to be on another network, problem is, I’ve been with others and they’ve always been better.
The second problem I see is no advertised Exchange/groupware sync at first. Now being a full OSX system, it seems like that should be possible, but for corporate adoption, they need to have that working fast. Maybe it will come through a solution such as Goodlink (which I have to use on my Treo), or maybe Apple will provide it knowing it’s needed. Otherwise the basic integration with Yahoo and Google is cool for an individual, but won’t meet the needs of the corporate user who is more likely to pay for this type of phone. Let’s face it, $600 for a phone is big money.
The real question I care about now is when do we get a standalone high-capacity iPod with all the features from the phone.
This is the device I was most excited about, and yet now I’m almost the least excited about. I really wanted a well built media device that would allow me to sync all my digital media, and display it on my tv. In essence, that’s what the AppleTV does, but not totally. Apple tries to make you use iTunes to do everything, and limit how many boxes you sync or stream from.
In terms of interfacing, this is ideal for my wife, and the average user. The UI is superb for her. For me however, it kinda stinks. Like many of the readers of my blog I want to have more control, and more specifically, freedom to put the media *I* want on the box. Most of my video is in DivX format, not downloaded from the iTunes store. Much of it sits on a Linux box, not a Mac. At first glance the AppleTV won’t support the majority of my needs. But on the other hand since it’s a OSX box, you can bet that very shortly after release we’ll know of a way to put the DivX codecs on it, and remote mount other drives. But that means I’m not buying on right away, and maybe getting one of the other devices available.
One other issue of note to extreme geeks, the AppleTV can do 720p HDTV, great! But it can’t do 1080p, so be warned if you care about that. My guess is for the price they are using an Xscale type Intel processor similar to what one would expect to be in the iPhone.
h2. Office 2008
Not announced in the keynote, but of note is the upgrade to Microsoft Office, which will come out the end of the year. This should actually be a native app, and run much better on the Intel boxes. I wonder what this will do to the iWork release? There have been leaked screenshots of its new features, I wonder if this will change anything.
The airport base station was upgraded to 802.11n . The new Macbook Pro’s like mine have this built in, and will be quite helpful if you are streaming media. Now if they’ll update the airport express, which is worth the price tag. The regular airport is just too expensive IMHO, with plenty of good competition.
What wasn’t mentioned, but I hope comes up this week is a release date for the new os version. I really thought that would be part of the Keynote, since it is so important. Is it close enough that they will leak out a date during the expo? Or are they saving it for a later conference (meaning it’s farther off than expected)?