Thursday, March 19, 2009

iPhone 3.0

So I just watched the entirety of the iPhone 3.0 sneak peak keynote presentation a few days ago and decided to get this geek's opinion out there with the rest.

I will get the biggies out of the way first. Push notification (finally), MMS(needed), voice memos(ok...), Cut/Copy/Paste AND Landscape keyboard in all the iPhones default apps(glorious!). Fantastic to see that Apple decided to give users these key features. Still waiting for video capture... I'll let it slide on this one Apple... A somewhat unfortunate sidestory is that those apps which simply give you landscape emails/txts and download MMS msgs for you will be worthless. Apple had to make this update though in order to make landscape email/txt work well(be truly integrated in the phone). This was the finale of the keynote, and for good reason. These features sell themselves, and people are cheering for them right when they hear they are coming.

It seems like most of the newest APIs are there to get big corporations who have resisted creating iPhone apps into the game. Most of the keynote felt like a pitch to these companies, trying to finally sway them to jump on the bandwagon.

Things like in-app purchase do not excite me at all. I am, in fact, very worried that this new feature will turn some would-be useful app into something that is not worth the money to use. I could not believe the first-person-shooter they demoed in which the player needed to pay a dollar to be able to use the rocket launcher. The thing that really urks me here for some reason is that, it seemed that the rocket launcher is not downloaded and installed but merely unlocked for use in the game. I am not a big fan of this. The idea that when I buy any app I will, possibly without any prior knowledge, be prompted that 'this app is not complete, would you like to give us multiple $0.99 payments to make it so?' just makes me so mad. One of the things I enjoy about paid apps on my iPhone is that there has NEVER been an update for these apps that requires me to pay again(I have never run into one, don't think they exist). But I guess that time is nearly over.

This takes the idea of micro-payments too far, imho. new level packs for games, magazine subscriptions, and ebooks all seem to be perfectly valid reasons to add in-app purchase. But the line between things which are worth another micro-payment and those which are not is fuzzy indeed, even in my own head. This is why I think that apple should have left this one out and continue to give huge corporations that demand it before making an app the middle finger. Perhaps the app market will balance things out in the long term as time goes on, as I'm sure apple has many well paid people which are foreseeing that as the outcome. There are many apps that can be made now because of this feature, but I think just about every currently existing app is better without it. I just hope that improper use of this feature by overly greedy people will hurt the app store's street cred overall.

The Apple evangelists also mentioned that iPhone is now capable of turn by turn directions via gps. They do not exactly tell how though. and they mention the further caveat that while the standard Google Maps' tiles and interface are now available through APIs, the map tiles for turn by turn are not included in the new version of the OS. I am interested to see exactly what Apple give developers in the end as far as a 'turn-by-turn SDK' goes. But overall I don't forsee myself scrambling to license my own map tiles any time soon, so for this I'm just gonna play consumer and wait for the app ^.^

Apple is also giving apps lower-level access to peripheral control and input. This is a nice feature that could generate a bunch of really cool devices that I am excited to see start rolling out. Being the independent developer that I am however, this doesn't start up any fantastical contemplation because it requires a company to produce a quality pair of device and app. All I can hope is that some iPhone peripherals begin to come out which provide their own APIs for homebrew app interaction. I'll cross my fingers on that because it is sure not be available much earlier than fall or winter.

Finally, I am psyched about bluetooth p2p connectivity using Bonjour. I don't know how to use Bonjour now but I will start to teach myself soon for this feature. This seems like a really easy, hella fast way to connect 2(or more...please apple) iPhones for some sick collaboration and multiplayer gaming.

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