By Tasha Gonzales
Last Tuesday, the technology world went nuts.
In a keynote address at MacWorld in San Francisco, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced the much-anticipated iPhone. For years, the tech world has buzzed with the concept of an Apple-produced cellular phone, and while imitations such as the enV and the Chocolate have been produced, no true iPod-phone hybrid had been released. Until Tuesday.
In all actuality, the phone won't ship until June, pending FCC approval - but that doesn't make it any less of a miracle of modern technology. It features wide-screen video playback, an OSX operating system, the Safari Web browser for rich HTML display, visual voice mail, text messaging, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, and the highest-resolution screen that Apple has shipped to date.
And, of course, the touch screen.
The iPhone does not have your standard buttons with which to dial out - in fact, there's only one button on the entire front of the thing. Instead, you push a button on the touch screen (with your finger - according to Jobs, the stylus is on the way out) that says "Keypad," and it shows you the standard 10-key pad for any phone, only on screen. It's like something out of "Star Trek."
For those who love tech gadgets, the iPhone will also have a two megapixel digital camera, a widgets application, and generally, the functionality you'd expect out of a high-end PDA.
While watching Steve Jobs talk (no, I wasn't at MacWorld - but you can visit www.apple.com and watch his keynote address), I actually found myself going "Wow! That is so cool!" at some of the stuff the iPhone can do.
You can "pinch," as he said, your pictures - say you've got pictures stored in your iPhone, and you want to zoom in. You pinch to make it smaller, and spread your fingers on the screen to make it bigger. If that's not cool, I don't know what is.
For those who aren't into photo storage, you can do that with Web pages on the iPhone, too. And even better, if you decide you want to look at a picture wide-screen, you can tilt the phone - and the picture will tilt with it.
iPhone also comes with a built-in application similar to Google Earth, called Google Maps, which allows you to get directions, view a map or satellite image of an area, or get the phone number for a store. It also parses phone numbers, so all you have to do is touch the number, and it dials out for you.
Simply put, the iPhone is what technology has been working up to all these years. You know, aside from things like heart transplants.
I won't be getting one, for a couple of reasons. The first being that the iPhone is tied exclusively to Cingular. I've never liked phones that you could only use with a specific provider because it smacks of elitism. Well, that, and I have Sprint, and none of the really cool phones come out for Sprint.
The second reason is that the iPhone starts at $499, for four gigabytes of space. Even if I could afford it, I wouldn't pay that kind of money. I haven't even shelled out the $600 for the PlayStation 3 that I want, so if Apple thinks they're getting that much money from me for something that doesn't even have any heft to it, they can think again. I want a phone I could hit a burglar with.
The third, and main, reason I won't be buying the iPhone, is that - call me old-fashioned - I just want my phone to be a phone. I've had a picture/video/PDA/1920s-style death ray phone before, and I never used any of the features except for the phone. I barely even text message.
So my current phone does three things: It makes outgoing calls, it receives incoming calls and it text messages. That's all I want or need out of a phone.
Don't get me wrong, if someone gave me an iPhone, I'd use it. I'm just not going to go out of my way to get it. Much like the PlayStation 3, I love the concept - I'm just lackadaisical about actually getting one.
Plus, I'd rather have the new 80 gigabyte iPod video than the 8 gig iPhone - half the price, 10 times the media space.
I'm not going to make any predictions, because the iPhone could go either way. On the one hand, Apple is genius at marketing and hype. Every product they've come out with in the past 10 years has been a hot item. On the other hand, how much does your phone really need to do?
Personally, I'm waiting for the real deal - a PADD, like in Star Trek: The Next Generation. If I'm going to have a multi-use computer item, I want something that will go on the Internet, make phone calls, download music, diagnose medical problems, scan for life forms, and teach basic quantum mechanics.
Even though that was a lame attempt at a joke, I don't think we're that far off. In the past 22 years (I'm using my birth as a point of reference because I can't personally recall anything from before that moment) technology has come from the Apple IIe (Oregon Trail, anyone?) to the iPhone. That's amazing, and a little bit scary.
I can't help but wonder what's next. I think we're a little off from Ghost in the Shell-style implants that connect you directly to the Net, but how much closer can we come? What's that next big leap? We've got cars that parallel park themselves, phones that can guess what you're going to text next based on one or two letters, and music players that are an inch by an inch big and hold 300 songs.
We aren't that far off from "Star Trek" technology. When we get there - dibs on the holodeck!
• What are your thoughts on the iPhone? E-mail me at email@example.com, or visit my blog at http://techtasha.wordpress.org.