and partially from academic and theoretical curiosity as someone who claims to be a sociologist of technology and media, I finally acquired an iPhone 3GS this week via AT&T upgrade.
I’m shocked and I should have done this sooner, frankly.
Here’s the thing that becomes clear after a couple of days with this device, keeping in mind that I’m a longtime smartphone user who has used them deeply, including the mobile web, calendaring, Bluetooth communication, and so on:
This is a sea change, a new type of device (well, forgetting for a moment that it’s actually years old and I just couldn’t be bothered to seriously look into it until now).
The change from a Palm or Blackberry to an iPhone is like the change from Gopher to HTTP or for people who have no idea about what that meant, it’s as big as would be a jump from AM radio to color HDTV in one step.
This is the first absolutely viable “palm computer” I’ve ever used, as fast as a desktop, with user interface absolutely unhobbled by and transparent despite its tiny screen, absolutely intrinsic connectivity via Edge/3G, 802.11 WiFi, and a pile of apps that are network-aware.
This is a device that feels absolutely unhobbled, without excuses, as though someone finally sat down with a nice low-power, high-speed non-x86 CPU and said “let’s put a real operating system on this thing and give it a user interface appropriate to its size.”
The next closes thing I can think of is Apple’s own Newton, back in the day. This is, in fact, the successor to the Newton in almost every way apart from input method, and with its built in accelerometer and compass, it’s software and hardware capabilities are similarly revolutionary, now transparently mediating between yourself and your environment not as a matter of symbolics or gestures, but as a matter of bodily kinetics.
I gotta get my early adopter mojo back. I am tremendously embarrassed not to have had a serious handle on this thing sooner. This really does change everything. I wonder if Android phones are similarly endowed.