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ECT News Community   »   TechNewsWorld Talkback   »   Lack of iPhone physical keyboard NOT an issue...

Re: Smartphone Operating Systems, Part 1: A User's Guide
Posted by: Vivian Wagner 2008-06-19 13:19:33
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With Apple's recent announcement of its new lower-priced and more richly featured 3G iPhone, smartphones are once again in the news. Now the iPhone will be competing with other prominent smartphone systems, particularly Research In Motion's popular BlackBerry. Many consumers might not have ever thought, however, about the fact that their smartphones have operating systems. Like a computer, a smartphone has a system that shapes the workings of the phone, the applications it can support, and the interactivity it has.

Mace is wrong
Posted by: davesmall 2008-06-21 08:19:28 In reply to: Vivian Wagner
This comment reveals Mace as a guy who doesn't own or use an iPhone. I have found that most negative criticisms come from people like that. Here is the comment that reveals his ignorance:

"Mace....sees the iPhone, even in its new incarnation, as appealing mostly to users who want to play videos and listen to music, and not necessarily those who need to use their smartphones to check e-mail on the road."

I do own an iPhone and I rarely use it for entertainment (videos or music). I do use it for voice communications but that's not a reason to buy it (any cell phone can do that).

The most important functions for me are web browsing, google maps (soon to include GPS), stock quotes, email (especially GMail), etc. The coolest thing is the way web browsing works - pinch to zoom in, spread your fingers to zoom out, rotate the iPhone to switch from portrait to landscape mode.

I love the ability to create bookmark icons on the home screen. This gives me single-click access to web pages that I frequently access including: A RealTime traffic map of my city which helps me to avoid traffic jams; A login screen for my stockbroker so I can quickly make online trades; RSS feeds for news headlines and several topics that I follow; which enables me to make international VOIP phone calls at very low rates; and's free WiFi hotspot finder, favorite blogs, etc..

When I was considering an iPhone purchase one year ago I went to an AT&T store where I tried typing on the touch screen keyboard. I also tried typing on a Blackberry keyboard. My conclusion then was that they were both very poor for typing. My fingers are much larger than the keys and I made many mistakes. You can make the argument that the Blackberry's real keys are easier to type on but I didn't find that to be true. They were so tiny and so close together that I made just as many errors as on the touch keyboard.

Since then I've found that my typing speed and accuracy on the iPhone have both improved dramatically. I suspect the same would have been true had I purchased the Blackberry instead. There is a learning curve and an acclimation process. There are also some typing tips and techniques that are very helpful on the iPhone.

Lack of iPhone physical keyboard NOT an issue...
Posted by: vics43 2008-06-19 13:38:09 In reply to: Vivian Wagner
I've heard a LOT of people talk about how the iPhone and iPod Touch will 'fail' because they don't have a 'physical' keyboard. However, these same people always seem to be just trying out the 'virtual' iPhone keyboards, or are hardcore Blackberry users. My 16 yr old son got an iPod Touch a few months ago (same interface), and uses it daily at school to take his notes in class. I've never tried timing him, but he's typing many, MANY, words per minutes - I'd bet 30-40 wpm or more. The 'virtual' keyboard senses what you are typing and offers 'suggestions' for the completion of the word you're typing, just hit the Spacebar to 'accept' the word it's suggesting and keep on typing. It also can detect words you commonly mispell (reversed letters, etc) and corrects them for you on the fly. It also 'learns' from you, learns your typing style, vocabulary, and spelling errors and so on. Like anything else, it takes some initial time to learn a new Interface, and the iPhone/iPod Touch are the same. You have to look at what you're typing, type squarely on the keys - the key you are touching will magnify and pop up above the tip of your finger so your fingers don't block what you're typing. Only issue I've found is when you are typing a Password. The iPod or iPhone screen displays an asterick in place of the letter or number you are typing, so it's difficult to know if you typed it correctly until you hit Enter. Once accustomed to this 'virtual' typing experience, it won't hold you back at all... and the overall 'User Experience' of the hardware, software and interface all working in tandom is unsurpassed by anything else out there. Go Apple!
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