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Apple's announcement of its iPhone this week has generated mass media attention, but some questions remain about what it does.
Fortunately, the internet age means that in a spirit of cooperation, curious journalists are beginning to ask those questions — and get some answers.
We've been trawling the web for more information, and have found two selections of resources we feel address some of these unanswered questions.
We have been asking the following:
Can the iPhone also sync with the computer using WiFi?
Can developers build applications for it?
Does it really not support VoIP?
Will it read attachments - specifically Word and PDF documents?
Does it support iPod games?
Apple sources have simply said that at present they have nothing to add to what the company has already revealed, but it's likely the company will address some of these questions after the rush of media attention has declined a little. Right now, Apple's global teams are rushed off their feet.
Many of Apple's international customers (and potential customers) have wanted a deeper look at how the iPhone works. Apple's senior vice president of marketing, Phil Schiller, spoke with CBS and gave that network an in-depth look at the device's user interface.
A video of the session has been made available on YouTube, as reported by The Unofficial Apple Weblog.
Schiller shows how quickly and easily a user can navigate the phone's different features. He shows how it can be flipped between its web access, email, phone and iPod features. His demonstration of the CoverFlow iTunes song navigation feature is particularly enticing. The video lasts for just under five minutes.
However, some further information has emerged.
A report on CrunchGear answers the first query. That website has spoken to Apple's US network partner, Cingular. According to the telco, the phone doesn't sync using WiFi, "but they're not ruling it out". At present the phone — which doesn't ship in the US until June — can only be synced using an iPod dock.
That report also offers an easy explanation of Apple CEO Steve Jobs' claims that the iPhone runs OS X (not Mac OS X, perhaps best understood as iPhone OS X).
"OS X’s underlying OS, Darwin, is based on BSD. The BSD kernel is small enough to fit on MP3 players and potentially electronic toothbrushes. So generally the iPhone will run OS X, albeit with a completely different UI layer. Therefore, instead of a lumpy OS like MS Mobile 5.0, it will have a real version of OS X."
UPDATE 12.01.07: It has since been revealed that the OS X running on the machine has been optimised for a small device, with the OS taking up half a gigabyte of the iPhone's flash storage.
The report also offers some answers to additional questions, such as whether the phone will appear with other US networks, and what services will be unavailable to those who unlock the device to use on other networks.
UPDATE 12.01.07: Apple vice president of worldwide iPod marketing Greg Joswiak confirmed the iPhone's lack of support for VoIP, saying: "You can’t do VoIP, Edge and WiFi are data networks and they will carry data only"
Apple's decision not to support VoIP on the iPhone may be related to its discussions with Cisco regarding use of the trademark. Cisco offers its own range of VoIP handsets, while nowhere near as advanced as Apple's solution, Cisco markets its devices as 'iPhones'.
Cisco this morning launched legal action against Apple to prevent it using the iPhone name for the new Apple 'PhonePod'. With the litigation pending and Apple arguing that they are two different products, it's unlikely VoIP wil feature in the PhonePod until the dispute is resolved in some way.
iPod games aren't yet supported on the device. However, Electronic Arts this week said that its development of games for the iPod (with video) has been "very successful", implying the company will produce more titles for the range.
It's conceivable (though it is pure conjecture) that new game titles will in future be made available that are designed to exploit the screen real estate, resolution and ARM processor of the new Apple phone. The fact that games haven't yet been associated with the device may just mean that no games have yet been built for it.
Apple has said that it took out over 200 patents to deliver its iPhone. With this in mind, the environment for third-party developers is likely to be more limited than it is for Mac OS X development. However, it's not yet clear if Apple will open up its iPhone for third party developers.
UPDATE: 12.01.07: Apple has since confirmed there's little opportunity for third party developers. The company will work in partnership with developers (as it has already done with Google and Yahoo on the iPhone), but will take a controlling lead. In part this is because an application that goes awry on a network-based device, such as a mobile phone, can cause damage to the network, Apple implied.
Despite this, the device is packed with high-end features: as such it's likely to appeal to a similar segment of the market that is attracted to the Blackberry.
These users are typically business-types. And that's a segment of people who are likely to want their multi-function communications device to be able to open Word documents and PDF files.
The iPhone introduced Tuesday doesn't open Word documents, but is capable of looking at PDF documents, according to the New York Times.
UPDATE: 12.01.07: Apple may create some task software for the iPhone, Joswiak implied, though nothing has been announced as yet.
The New York Times report by veteran technology writer David Pogue, raises some additional questions:
"Note, too, that the software is still unfinished, and many questions are still unanswered. Will you be able to turn your own songs into ring tones? Will there be a voice recorder? Will the camera record video? Can you use Skype to make free internet calls? Will the battery really last for five hours of talking, video and web browsing (or 16 hours of audio playback)? Will you someday be able to buy songs and videos from the iTunes Store right on the phone?"
UPDATE: 12.01.07: Apple has confirmed the iPhone will not support Skype.
The device is already gaining critical acclaim — not least for its massive usability improvements. The fact that users can actually access the features of the device is an innovation in itself — many mobile phone users barely scratch the surface of what their devices can do. Apple makes it easy to access and employ features, which means those features will be used.
12.01.07: Macworld UK deputy editor Karen Haslam has prepared five reports which shed extra light on Apple's iPhone strategy. Links to these articles feature below:
What questions do you have on the iPhone? What features would you like it (or a later device) to have? What do you most like about it? Please state your case in Macworld UK's forum post on the topic, here.
NOTE: We intend updating this story with new information as it becomes available in the coming weeks.