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Apple new iPhone 3GS hardware and software roundup
Article by Mike Barrett, June 12 2009

pocketgpsworld.comWell it has been a couple of days since Apple announced the iPhone 3GS, the dust has settled and reality bites again.

From the GPS standpoint the big thing is the introduction of Turn-By-Turn navigation applications. Already TomTom and Navigon have announced apps and there are many more SatNav companies prepared to deploy.

So what did we really get out of all the rumours that were circulating prior to the WWDC keynote?

On the hardware/firmware side there is:
  • More memory - 16Gb and 32Gb models
  • Faster processor - 600MHz (from 412Mhz)
  • More RAM - 256Mb (from 128Mb)
  • Faster graphics chip
  • Faster wireless - up to 7.2Mbps where available
  • Better Camera - 3Mp autofocus camera
  • Video recording
  • Improved finger resistant screen
  • Improved battery and power consumption
  • Tethering - use the iPhone as a modem
  • MMS messaging
  • Magnetic Compass
  • Integration with Nike+ shoes


So whilst there were no earth shattering new announcements, the hardware improvements do go a long way to make the iPhone a better device. I actually expect that the lesser touted features of faster processor and more RAM will make the iPhone a better device. My 3G iPhone has lots of memory issues running the more demanding applications because of the 128Mb limit. The other big improvement is the battery and power consumption allowing you more use of the iPhone without having to worry about saving your battery.

Whilst tethering and MMS are features that many users have been requesting they do come at a cost. In the US the sole provider AT&T currently do not support it though they say they will late summer, same with MMS. In the UK both MMS and Tethering will be available but will be chargeable extras.

One of the best things about the new models is that they are exactly the same size as the iPhone 3G. Why is that important? Well it means that all the accessories for the 3G will fit and work with the 3GS. This compatibility is something that many people find frustrating when updating phones. Well done Apple.

The price points for the iPhone come in at:
Apple iPhone USAUS: 24 mth 8Gb iPhone 3G $99, 16Gb iPhone 3GS $199, 32Gb iPhone 3GS $299
Apple iPhone UKUK: 12 mth 8Gb iPhone 3G 97, 16Gb iPhone 3GS 184, 32Gb iPhone 3GS 274
Apple iPhone UKUK: 24 mth 8Gb iPhone 3G 0, 16Gb iPhone 3GS 87, 32Gb iPhone 3GS 175

This makes the UK and US pricing pretty similar, but you do need to bear in mind that you are tying yourself into a 2 year contract.

Overall this is a good upgrade to what has become the iConic leader in SmartPhones, With the iPhone 3G holding the position at the bottom of the range it looks like Apple have decided that there is still good life in the product yet. For those of use who were early adopters the introduction of newer devices is a bit of a problem.

iPhone OS3.0 softwareThe iPhone OS 3.0 software
So having looked at the hardware for the new iPhones it is time to look at the software. For quite a while now the new iPhone OS 3.0 software has been in Beta and despite NDAs pretty much everything leaked about the functionality that would be included.

A couple of things that didn't leak (or were not paid any attention) were items like Video, Voice Control, Access to Accessories, Voice memos, and the Nike+ interface.

For me the main features of the new OS3.0 software are:
  • Copy and Paste
  • Security
  • Faster OS
  • Video capture and editing
  • Access to accessories
  • More bluetooth protocols
  • Personal Area Networking
  • In App Purchase
  • Push Notifications
  • Access to Maps in the application
  • Access to the iPod Library
  • Streaming Video
  • Compass support


Copy and Paste.
This was a well known feature of OS3.0, but for me it was a crucial part of the User Interface that was missing. The number of times I wish that copy, cut and paste were available just cannot be counted.

Security.
With mobile devices security is always a potential issue. I have only ever lost one phone and that was in the early days when all they contained was a small selection of my phone numbers. Now my iPhone carries my life... Although there is not too much in the way of sensitive data on my iphone it is good to know that I can wipe it remotely. Another good security feature of the new software is the ability to locate the iphone using Mobile Me. It is permission based, but would allow anyone with access to your Mobile Me account to see where you (and your phone) is. This is obviously quite useful if you have left it somewhere or lost it. You can send an alert to the iPhone from Mobile Me which will provide an audible alert irrespective of the mute settings of the ringer.

Faster OS.
Well it goes without saying that a faster OS will make even the existing iPhone 3G faster. I am always a little cynical about speed increase claims as they are often measured in the best light for the system. Time will tell how big a bonus this is.

Video Capture and Editing.
The Video Camera was a much rumoured feature of the new iPhone, but not only have we got a new camera there is also the software to control and edit the video footage. This seems to take it's design and user interface from the new video features from the OS's big brother Snow Leopard. This allows the user to trim a video clip then share it via a number of different channels.

Access to Accessories.
Well TomTom showed us what can be done with this. They have developed a cradle for the iPhone to mount on the car windscreen that has an external GPS, speaker and microphone. They have used the accessory interface to develop a full navigation system. Obviously this feature opens a whole new world of possibilities to hardware and software developers.

More Bluetooth Protocols.
In OS2.x we only had the Bluetooth headset protocol, now we also have A2DP for streaming audio and also PAN for creating networks.

Personal Area Networking
Apple have introduced peer to peer networking in OS3.0 this was mainly designed for multi user gaming, but could potentially be used for all sorts of novel applications such as sharing of contacts and data or even localised targeted advertising.

In App Purchase.
One of the issues with the way the app store was set up is that it allows for a single purchase with free lifetime updates. This does not suit a lot of business models so Apple have now integrated a payment process within the application. This was proposed for buying additional levels for a game, but could equally be used for purchasing maps or data or any other services for the application.

Push Notifications.
With push notifications your iPhone can receive network events and respond to them. This could be new email, new SMS, or much more likely for non Apple apps notifications for new service messages such as IM clients. These can be stacked up in an application queue and the user can be alerted to the arrival by an audible alert or a 'badge' on the application icon.

Access to Maps in the application.
The Maps application is a great feature of the iPhone, but until now you had to close your application and open the Map App to use it, or use Google Maps over the Internet in a browser window in your app. OS3.0 provides a mechanism to embed a map in your application complete with custom information.

Access to the iPod Library.
This feature allows applications to control the music player in the iPhone. The example shown was in a game setting the car stereo to play some of your own favorite songs during the gameplay.

Streaming Video.
Up to now we have had video in the form of YouTube or video in the iPod Library. With OS3.0 we now have access to streaming video over http (web protocols) all well and good, but we do not have the capability to view Flash Movies on the iPhone yet.

Compass Support.
Adding the magnetometer into the iPhone means that now there is an electronic compass that can be accessed via the location services. This means that applications that use live maps are much more reliable and that it is now feasible to produce a heads up view of your map. This is mainly because the direction information available with GPS becomes unreliable at low speeds such as when you are walking. Often you will see your location spinning round, but this has been overcome with the compass support.

Conclusions
Well there are a lot of changes in the hardware and software, but whether they justify you forgoing the rest of your contract and getting a new iPhone 3GS are a bit debatable. Upgrading to the iPhone OS 3.0 is a no-brainer, it is a FREE upgrade and offers a lot of extra features.

From the GPS standpoint the big thing is the introduction of Turn-By-Turn navigation applications. Already TomTom and Navigon have announced apps and there are many more SatNav companies prepared to deploy.

The iPhone and similar SmartPhones could sound the death knell for the traditional PNDs that are the darlings of the navigation industry. Time will tell, but the product demo from TomTom is impressive.
Comments
Posted by teecee90 on Fri Jun 12, 2009 12:22 pm Reply with quote

I didnt think the iPhone was available on a 12month contract in the uk.....do you mean 18mth ?


 
Posted by teecee90 on Fri Jun 12, 2009 12:29 pm Reply with quote

Also, I understand that video capture & editing is only available on the 3GS so wont be functional on 3G iPhones with OS 3.0


 
Posted by Darren on Fri Jun 12, 2009 12:39 pm Reply with quote

teecee90 Wrote:
Also, I understand that video capture & editing is only available on the 3GS so wont be functional on 3G iPhones with OS 3.0

This article concerns the 3G S Smile


Darren Griffin - Editor

 
Posted by MikeB on Sat Jun 13, 2009 8:11 am Reply with quote

teecee90 Wrote:
I didnt think the iPhone was available on a 12month contract in the uk.....do you mean 18mth ?

You are absolutely correct. It is for an 18 month contract.


Mike Barrett
Editor, PocketGPSWorld.com

 
Posted by Tigerfan on Sat Jun 13, 2009 10:32 am Reply with quote

Many thanks about the comments re the A2DP profile I have beek looking for this answer for ages. I ban now use my Bluetooth Headset for phone calls & listening to music on the new Iphone, when I upgrade in a few weeks, Yipee!


 
Posted by mrg2003 on Fri Jun 19, 2009 3:10 am Reply with quote

[quote="MikeB"][quote="teecee90"]I didnt think the iPhone was available on a 12month contract in the uk.....do you mean 18mth ?[/quote]
You are absolutely correct. It is for an 18 month contract.[/quote]

It is available from anything down to 6 months on corporate contracts.
We pay approx 40 / month, (as opposed to Vodafone which is now 20) on rolling 12 month, 6month has a 500 termination clause per unit, but free to re-allocate and provision.

I suspect different companies get other rates. We have 15K vodafones handsets, and only 100 O2 ones.


Mr.G

 
Posted by Darren on Fri Jun 19, 2009 4:28 am Reply with quote

mrg2003 Wrote:
MikeB Wrote:
teecee90 Wrote:
I didnt think the iPhone was available on a 12month contract in the uk.....do you mean 18mth ?

You are absolutely correct. It is for an 18 month contract.


It is available from anything down to 6 months on corporate contracts.
We pay approx 40 / month, (as opposed to Vodafone which is now 20) on rolling 12 month, 6month has a 500 termination clause per unit, but free to re-allocate and provision.

I suspect different companies get other rates. We have 15K vodafones handsets, and only 100 O2 ones.[/quote]


Darren Griffin - Editor

 
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