Obligatory iPhone 4 Post

As an admitted Apple fanboy, I'd be remiss if I didn't say something about Monday's WWDC Keynote. So unless you live under a rock, you've heard about Apple's newest phone handset, iPhone 4. Apple's calling this the biggest change since the original iPhone. 

I could simply rattle off the new features coming to the device, but I'll just talk about the ones I'm excited for most.

First, I'm happy to see the A4 chip from the iPad has made it under the hood. I've played with a number of iPads at my old office and the response times are noticeably faster than my 3GS. You can really tell the difference of the chip and this is going to be necessary for some of the other feature enhancements.

The upgraded battery is something I'm glad to see. Generally I don't have too much problem with battery life that some people have with their 3GSes, although it can certainly be improved. The fact that Apple has added in battery-intensive functions and it's still getting more time than the 3GS is impressive.

The upgraded camera system is one of the biggest things I'm looking forward to. Even though most people who know me would consider me the Titan of Tech, amazingly I don't own a Point-and-Shoot digital camera. Somehow I just never got one. I've got my trusty D40, but for daily shooting I just use the camera in my 3GS. Megapixels don't really matter since I'm not likely going to make posters out of my daily snaps, but the ability to print larger images is appreciated with the upgrade to 5MP. More importantly, Apple claims to have used a better quality image sensor, which is what really matters. This upgrade should yield better low-light shots, especially coupled with the LED flash. Right now, my 3GS is worthless for nighttime or dark shots like in a bar or club. Not having a flash on the current one is one reason I've still toyed with getting a proper P&S. But this upgrade could keep me from doing that.

The second half of the camera upgrade system is the addition of HD video recording. This is a biggie. I think Giga Om's NewTeeVee hits the nail on the head regarding how this feature will affect sales of Flip's line of cameras. Now don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of Flip's camera lineup, but I think this spells trouble for them. As I think I've mentioned before, I used to own a Flip Ultra and I currently own a Sony HD camcorder, in addition to the video-recording ability of my 3GS. Can you guess which one I use/used the most? The Flip started making this weird buzzing noise every few seconds that the mic would pick up making it useless so I just threw it out. I'm not discounting their quality and I think I would get another one if Apple wasn't adding HD to the iPhone. The Sony takes great quality footage and has plenty of features, but it's just not something I'm going to carry around with me all the time, even in my backpack. The 3GS takes OK video if you've got good lighting, but let's face it, it's going to be way better in HD with a better image sensor, plus some zoom and the LED flash which can be used as a light. The fact is, the best camera is the one you have with you. And I'm way more likely to have my phone with me than any other device. I can't see myself carrying around a Flip plus my iPhone with HD video. And I'll be able to edit it and upload with iMovie right from the phone? Sorry, Flip.

Some of the things I'm looking forward to most will actually be ios4 features that are not necessarily related to iPhone 4 but will probably work even better on it. Multitasking and folders are two of the ones that stand out for me. Can't wait to get my hands on those features. But the one that might be the coolest is the ability to use an external Bluetooth keyboard. This actually may prevent me from getting an iPad, or at least waiting until the 2nd generation comes out. I could throw a small stand in my bag and either a rollup or foldable keyboard, or Apple's offering, which is quite small, and have myself a nice little setup that could handle the majority of the things I need to do. Yes, I know the screen is a whole lot smaller, but I'm pretty comfortable with my iPhone's screen as it is, so this could be a great mobile setup when I don't need the full capabilities of my MacBook.

One more thing...

So about that FaceTime thing...The geek in me says AWESOME! And it certainly is exciting and it's something that's been desired for a long time but hasn't really caught on here in the U.S. like it has around the world. This is going to have so many great uses and could really change how people communicate. The video showing the deaf couple was extremely touching. But (there's always a but isn't there?!), there are a number of issues that make me say "meh."

First, this is WiFi only to start. Now that's not really a surprise- AT&T can barely keep up with the demand for data as it is, so video- fuggettaboutit! This certainly lends credence to the rumors that Apple desperately wants to get other carriers on board who might be able to handle traffic better (although video is very intensive so there may not be a good solution even if they get someone else.) So since we're limited to WiFi to start, this is going to be useful in very few places. I guess you could pair it with a MiFi, but you're going to eat through those bytes awful quickly. It also highlights how far we are behind in the fact that municipal WiFi is virtually unheard of in the U.S.

Second, it's only iPhone 4-to-iPhone 4 right now, so communicating with other devices is out of the question. I'm very surprised this isn't at least compatible with iChat out of the box. I expect they'll be supporting it in the future, but it seems like a no-brainer to get that working from the get-go. I figured for sure that you'd at least be able to video chat with someone on a computer. Steve Jobs also said it will be compatible with millions of iDevices which I interpreted as they're going to add cameras to both the iPod Touch and the iPad. There were outcries from the launch that the iPad doesn't have a camera, which is one reason I'm holding out because I think they'll release that in the next generation. Unless I absolutely needed one, I'd hold off on buying either of those devices for a while, especially with the iPod Touch likely to get an upgrade at the beginning of September.

I'm glad FaceTime is easy to use, requiring zero-configuration and that you can take advantage of both cameras at any time in both portrait and landscape mode, but the limitations seem to say that it's going to be some time before it all takes off to the level of the Jetsons, which Steve referenced in the Keynote.

So Will I Get One?

The answer is yes. As soon as I'm eligible, which AT&T seems to think is 2011 so we'll have to see about that, I'll pick one up. I'll welcome the ios4 features onto my 3GS in the meanwhile, but I think they really have made some great advancements with the new iPhone 4. Despite some of the limitations, there's enough there to justify getting the new one, especially since the price is the same as a new 3GS used to be.

What do you think? What are you looking forward to most? If you're not an iPhone owner, will you get one? If you are, will you upgrade?