Apple had their big iPhone 3.0 announcement yesterday and it included a number of much awaited features. When the iPhone was released in 2007, it was miles ahead of its competition at the time in several areas, most notably a killer mobile browser and the sliding finger gesture driven UI. In 2008 it upped the ante with MobileMe and the App Store. Did Apple push forward again in 2009?Things like cut, copy and paste as well as MMS messages will now be supported and there are a few other goodies that Eric has listed in his coverage of the press conference. As I look at that list though, I am not much new. Voice memos have been supported on the Windows Mobile platform since the late 1990's. In fact, there was a time when MS required a voice recorder hardware button on the device or it wouldn't license it to a manufacturer. The recently released Microsoft Recite now allows you to search through your voice notes using your voice.
Obviously cutting and pasting have been on every other mobile platform that I can think of. If MMS isn't supported natively by the platform, as is the case with Windows Mobile, the mobile operators are encouraged to put their own MMS client on the device before shipping it. Things like device-wide searching, keyboard support in landscape mode and push email have been around for a long time on many other platforms.
What did Apple really do with iPhone 3.0? I saw the peer-to-peer networking with bluetooth. That could be cool, and I see how for games that will be an advantage for someone that is seriously into gaming with their phone - a sort of Nintendo DS for adults.
These are mostly catch-up features though, or at best, a niche feature that many will never use. IR and bluetooth beaming of files and information have been available on other platforms for years, but are rarely used by most people, so I don't see the bluetooth peer-to-peer feature, whether for data sharing or gaming, being that killer feature that gets someone to jump to the iPhone if they don't already have one.
I am sorry to see that Apple didn't push further, if for no other reason it gives their competitors a chance to catch their breath. We all know what happens when Microsoft catches its breath - it stagnates. Without OSX, Windows wouldn't have moved as far as it has with Vista and Windows 7. Without Palm as a serious competitor, Windows Mobile sort of paused for a few years until the iPhone woke up the software giant. The way I see it, iPhone 3.0 doesn't really do much to make the competition nervous that iPhone 2.0 doesn't already do.
They missed a golden opportunity to steal Microsoft's Flash thunder, as MS won't really have that out in force until WinMo 6.5 ships this fall. Maybe a hardware announcement is yet to come, but for now there is still no physical keyboard option, either a bluetooth addon or a new device with a thumb keyboard. You still cannot record video, something even non-smartphones do with ease.
The iPhone is still seems to be the standard by which other phones are measured by, but it seems with 3.0, Apple has paused to take a breath and just fill in a few holes in the overall iPhone experience.