SANDY BERGER: The New iPhone Has Something for Everyone
According to the data from the International Communications Union, the world now has more than two billion cell phone or mobile phone subscribers.
While some business and high-tech users are using their phones for e-mail and the Internet, I venture to say that most of those two billion folks are using their cell phones only to make calls and to text message. In fact, I am sure that many users don't know how to do much more than that, even though their phones are capable of much more.
The reason is that up until now, cell phones, with their tiny buttons and complex menu systems, have frustrated many average users. The recent introduction of a fast, stable and more affordable iPhone is poised to change all of that.
While the 20- and 30-somethings are flocking to the iPhone as the latest status symbol, the 40- , 50- and 60-somethings are acquiring iPhones because there are no tiny buttons and no complex menu systems. In fact, the large bright touch screen, big icons and the on-screen keyboard make the iPhone extremely easy to use.
One button brings up the home screen of icons. The screen is clear and uncluttered. The icons are all easily identifiable by their pictures, so the iPhone experience is very visual.
The four most-used icons are placed on the bottom of the screen. By default, they are Phone, Mail, Safari (the Internet browser) and iPod. You can put whatever you use the most on the bottom row. You can also rearrange all the icons to suit your taste.
The way you rearrange the icons is indicative of the ease of use of the entire gadget. To rearrange the icons on the home screen, you simply press any icon and hold your finger down until all the icons start to wiggle. Then you drag the icons from place to place.
To put an icon on the second page of the home screen, you simply drag it off the screen to the right. The second page will appear with the icon on it. To return to the first screen of the home page, just drag your finger across the screen in a leftward motion. To stop the wiggling and confirm that you are through moving the icons around, you simply touch the home button. You can't miss it because while other cell phones seem to have a million buttons, the home button is the only button on the surface of the iPhone.
As you can tell by this explanation, the iPhone is also very tactile. You can move things around the screen with your finger. To make a Web page larger, you simply flick two fingers apart on the screen. Bring your fingers together and the Web page gets smaller. Double-tap the screen, and the page fits the screen.
To take a picture, you press the camera icon, aim the camera on the back of the iPhone, and press the icon on the bottom of the screen. It is so intuitive that it is actually fun!
On top of that, Apple has added an Apps store to its iTunes Online Store. It has more than 500 applications that you can add to your iPhone. Many are free. Others cost $1. Most of those you have to pay for are under $10.
Some of these applications are just for fun, some are for productivity. For instance, if you download an application called Recorder, you can turn your iPhone into a voice recorder. But you can also choose an application that turns it into a light saber or one that lets you pop bubbles on the screen.
At $199 for the 8-GB model, the iPhone has a lot to like. To use it you must subscribe to AT&T for two years. That is not unusual for a cell phone service contract. You also have to have an additional data plan that costs $30 a month. While this might seem costly, you get a lot for your money.
Not only is the iPhone intuitive, visual, and tactile, but also it has access to the Internet and lets you send and receive e-mail. It is like having a mini-computer in your hand. For many it will replace the laptops they drag along when traveling.
The iPhone is also a full-blown iPod that plays both music and video. Since it has its own speaker, you don't even need earbuds or headphones as you do with most other music players. Oh, and did I mention, it has the best audio quality of any cell phone I've ever used?
Am I hooked? You bet I am -- and the same thing will happen to many others who try the iPhone. It is poised to change the way we use cell phones.
Sandy Berger welcomes all of your questions and comments on today's column. Please post them on the Compu-Kiss Message Board at www.compu kiss.com/happycomputing.
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