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iPhone 3G GPS: Take 2

Yesterday, I posted an item from Gizmodo explaining the benefits of the iPhones A-GPS vs. plain old GPS. Within minutes of my posting, Giz removed the article.

Today, Giz is back with a new article about the iPhone’s GPS. It looks like it’s been re-written from top to bottom, but the gist is the same: iPhone GPS should rock.

When Apple announced that they were rebranding their .Mac service as MobileMe, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who started thinking of all the fun possibilities for @me.com email addresses. It should be pointed out that if you’re planning to sign up for Me.com with the hopes of getting your firstname@me.com or lastname@me.com, keep in mind that current .Mac members’ email addresses are automatically grandfathered into the new domain. 1234abc@mac.com will automatically be 1234abc@me.com. It’s likely that most common names will already be taken.

If you don’t want to settle for John173@me.com, there are plenty of memorable options available. If you use the @ symbol as the word “at” you can turn short sentences into email addresses. Most simple examples, like look@me, smile@me, point@me, shout@me, and laugh@me already seem to be taken, but there are plenty of variations available. For example:

Naomi.yelled@me (or naomi.threwherphone@me.com)

Even more possibilities are available if you choose to use the @ symbol as the letter a. If your name ends in “ame” you’ve got it made, like Valerie.Pl@me.com (some people fall just short, like Barack.Ob@me.com). But don’t stop there; there are tons of words that end in “ame.” I won’t list them all, but they can easily be found with a crossword puzzle dictionary. Here are some favorites:


I love that these email addresses look almost like website addresses. If you wanted to go all the way with it, your email address could even be www.macr@me.com. Cool to geeks, confusing to everyone else. What more could you ask for?

If you’re interested in MobileMe and want to get a jump on reserving the perfect email address, I recommend saving $30 by buying a .Mac membership from Amazon. Set up the account and choose your email address before the rush of new subscribers. Your .Mac account will convert to a MobileMe account in July.

Oh, and if I’ve given away the email address you were hoping to register, please dontbemad@me.com.

samsung_instinct.jpgWalt Mossberg’s review of Samsung’s Instinct phone in today’s Wall Street Journal is the kind of article that almost makes me ashamed to be an Apple fan. As an iPhone enthusiast, I’m always interested in reading about competing products — and am always secretly delighted when reviewers point out that the iPhone still reigns supreme — but Mossberg’s iPhone cheerleading has crossed the line.

It’s not that he simply compares the Instinct to the iPhone; given the similarity of the products, one would expect that. It’s that his review reads much more like a preview of iPhone 3G with a quick comparison to the Instinct thrown in for good measure.

The opening paragraph gives us a good idea of where the article is heading:

The parade of iPhone lookalikes continues. Soon after Apple announced the first iPhone a year ago, factories in Asia, at the behest of U.S. phone carriers, were asked to respond to the sleek, touch-screen device. Some already have reached America; more are coming.

No mention of the actual product being reviewed. But it gets better. A little further down, Mossberg devotes two entire paragraphs to the upcoming iPhone:

The price of the new iPhone’s base model, which comes with 8 gigabytes of memory, is $199, a 50% price cut from the comparable first-generation model. Yet, it now works on AT&T’s fastest data network, promising anywhere from two to five times the speed of its predecessor. It also has GPS for tracking your location, and fully supports over-the-air synchronization of email, contacts and calendars — through Microsoft Exchange in corporations or via a similar new consumer service from Apple called MobileMe. And you’ll be able to download directly to the phone a whole universe of third-party programs, from productivity software to games.

On the downside, the new iPhone’s camera remains very basic and still can’t capture video. For people who prefer physical keyboards, the iPhone will still fall short. It continues to include only a virtual onscreen keyboard. And the iPhone remains locked to a single carrier in the U.S., AT&T, which will charge $10 more per month for unlimited data consumption on the device.

Compare that to his in-depth discussion of the Instinct’s email and web browsing features:

But I found its email system and Web browser to be less sophisticated than the iPhone’s or the BlackBerry’s.

That’s it. No discussion of the features, weaknesses, or any other hint as to why he considers it to be less sophisticated. Does he mean it’s not as easy to use? Does he mean it doesn’t work as well? Does he mean it’s not as pretty? Guess you’ll have to buy one to find out.

I’m sure there are a lot of WSJ readers who prefer Sprint to AT&T (just based on coverage and reception) and would have appreciated a more substantive look at the Samsung Instinct. Mossberg would do well to remember that not everybody’s in the position to switch to the iPhone.

[via Engadget]

[Edit: Hmm... Looks like Giz has taken the article down. I've removed the broken link for the time being.]

Earlier today I posted some thoughts on how the new iPhone’s GPS might make the Nike+iPod system obsolete. Right on cue, Gizmodo takes a closer look at the iPhone’s A-GPS (assisted GPS):

The term aGPS or A-GPS itself has many slightly different meanings, but in this case, location is determined with a combo of GPS, and cell towers—plus public Wi-Fi networks, if they’re available. All that data is crunched and neatly served up by the “assistance server.” (The nicest thing about the iPhone 3G’s setup is that the size of the “you are here” circle on a map indicates how accurate the guess is). Best news for campers: Unlike most phones, the iPhone’s A-GPS will still work without a cell signal.

There are even more advantages to A-GPS. The assistance server tells the phone where the satellites are in the sky, speeding up the search for a handful of space signals. Without assistance, you’d need to receive several really solid GPS signals for a decent period of time before getting a lock—the assistance server can take paltry, choppy ones and make use of them. Oh, and there’s that battery-life thing again. A-GPS is way more efficient.

I still haven’t decided whether I’ll be upgrading from my original iPhone right away, but details like these sure make it tempting.

Alex Remmington reflects on one of America’s greatest comic actors:

Today is Gene Wilder’s 73rd birthday. One of America’s greatest comic actors, he hasn’t done much in front of the cameras in the past decade. He’s been writing, living relatively peacefully with a wife he adores, occasionally appearing in a feature article somewhere. He beat cancer a couple years ago after fighting it for years. He has aged as he acted, as he lived, as he pratfalled: gracefully.

Gracefully… or hysterically?

Though I haven’t paid much attention to the Nike+iPod Sport Kit in recent months, every time a high-profile Apple event rolls around I secretly hope for an announcement (or even a mention) of the popular running gadget. I’ve almost stopped being disappointed by the silence. Almost.

At Apple’s WWDC this past Monday, I really wanted to see someone from Nike take the stage and show off a new Sport Kit iPhone app (there’s already been one report that they’re working on it). I’d love to be able to upload my runs and check my stats directly from my iPhone. As it stands now, the Nike+ website is still completely inaccessible to iPhone users since it’s built entirely with Adobe’s Flash technology (which the iPhone doesn’t support). It’s amazing to me that in a year’s time, Nike hasn’t been able (or willing) to put together a mobile version of the site so iPhone users can check and show off run data.

With third-party apps coming to the iPhone in a few weeks, now would be a perfect opportunity for Nike to announce the next generation Nike+ system; Especially since the iPhone 3G has one feature that could eliminate the need for it altogether: GPS.

On one hand, the inclusion of GPS in the next generation iPhone could bring great improvements to Nike+, such as better accuracy, integration with maps, and location-aware social networking. But on the other, it won’t be long before software developers start rolling out iPhone GPS-based running apps that compete head-to-head with Nike+… and without the need for special sensors, dongles, or shoes. And considering how slow Nike has been with regard to their website development, I can easily see a young, agile developer quickly outclassing Nike on the software/social end of things. As cool as the Nike+ website is, I haven’t spoken with anyone who truly feels any connection or loyalty to it or the Nike+ “community,” and that’s a big opportunity for a new player.

So what can Nike do to ensure the survival of Nike+? Perhaps they already see the writing on the wall, which is why they’ve released the Nike+ SportBand (no iPod required) and announced Nike+ integration with gym equipment. Perhaps Apple has agreed not to approve any third-party GPS-based fitness apps for the iPhone (which I would personally find outrageous) in order to protect Nike+iPod, and iPod nano, sales. Or perhaps Nike plans to go toe-to-toe with third-party developers in the iPhone space, relying on their current market and brand recognition to keep them one step ahead of the crowd.

If Nike chooses the latter, they have an uphill battle ahead.

April March won a permanent place in my heart over a decade ago with her spot-on recreations of 1960s French pop music, so I was thrilled to see a new album from her hit the streets a few weeks ago. ‘Magic Monsters’ is a collaboration with Steve Hanft, a songwriter best known for directing music videos (Beck’s Loser, for one). While the album is a pretty hit-and-miss affair for me, the second track, ‘Attention Cherie,’ is currently in heavy rotation on my iPhone. It’s miles away from the sassy Ye-ye of her early career, but the bouncy mid-tempo groove and her sweet, airy vocals make for a perfect soundtrack to a lazy summer afternoon (a vibe somewhat at odds with the music video below).

Here’s Hanft’s music video for the song. The music starts about 40 seconds in.

And for those keeping score, this is my second ‘Song of Summer’ with a French title and English Lyrics. Enjoy.

You can download ‘Attention Cherie’ from Amazon and iTunes.

Now think about how often you need to see a message immediately or the world will end. How many of those times will somebody trust such a critical message only to e-mail, where it can get caught up by a spam filter or lost in the general clutter of your inbox? Using one of the most congested communications mediums available for the most urgent notices imaginable doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me; if you want to get somebody’s attention instantly, you pick up the phone and call them.

Then consider how you process incoming e-mail. Pushing a message to your screen can’t push it into your brain. If you can react and respond to each new e-mail as it arrives, you have a lot more free time than I do. Me, I usually wait until I have an idle moment to scan over the latest batch of new messages, then delete, file or answer them as necessary. – Rob Pegoraro, WashingtonPost.com

I moved away from automatic email notifications long ago, and I couldn’t be happier. All my email clients (including iPhone) are set to check manually. I check my email when I’m ready to check email. And since my email accounts are all IMAP, my inbox and folders stay up to date between email clients.

As a long-time (and long-suffering) .Mac fan, I’m excited to see how MobileMe changes the way I work, but push email isn’t a feature for Me.

Interestingly, Mr. “Inbox Zero” Merlin Mann is all over the pushiness.

iPeachment ’08!

Lee Stranahan watched two presentations yesterday and has an idea:

When he introduced articles of impeachment against President George W. Bush last night on the floor of House of Representatives, Dennis Kucinich may have been many things – brave, idealistic, and thorough – but he was also wicked boring.

Contrast that to another speech the same day that acted like Nerd Viagra – Steve Job’s announcement of the new 3G iPhone. Across the Geekasphere, sites like Twitter and TechCrunch and Engadget blew their fuses as each new feature was announced. That’s what you needed, Dennis. Here’s my advice.

Have Steve Jobs introduce iPeachment 08.

Summer approaches, and that means it’s time to seek out some fun new music for the beach, park or pool. My first sure-fire-summer-party-starter is “L.E.S. Artistes” by singer/songwriter Santogold.

You can download it from Amazon or iTunes.

Hidden among all of the iPhone 3G announcements today was this press release from AT&T that confirms the unlimited 3G data plan will cost $30 per month; an increase of $10 per month over the current unlimited Edge plan.

From the press release:

With a two-year contract, the price of an 8GB iPhone 3G will be $199; the 16GB model will be priced at $299.

Unlimited iPhone 3G data plans for consumers will be available for $30 a month, in addition to voice plans starting at $39.99 a month.

Unlimited 3G data plans for business users will be available for $45 a month, in addition to a voice plan.

So while the new 8GB iPhone will only cost $199, the data plan will set you back an additional $240 over the 2-year contract.

Of course, that extra $240 buys you all the sweet 3G nectar you can drink, while the rest of us are left choking down the foul bitterness of Edge… One spoonful at a time.

I’m a Mac user, but not a Mac evangelist. While I do think that most of my Windows-using friends would be happier using a Mac, I also think that making the ‘switch’ is a decision one needs to come to on one’s own. I’ve learned not to start sentences with “Well, if you had a Mac…” because of the inevitable eye-roll I’m given in return.

When I switched from Windows at the end of 2002, nobody was pushing it on me. I had purchased my first iPod a few months earlier, and came to learn about Apple’s new operating system, OS X, as a result of visiting Apple’s website and various Mac forums. I was very unhappy with Windows at the time. It seemed a new mega-virus was coming out every week, and despite running the latest anti-virus software, I had to perform two ‘clean installs’ in the preceding six months. Enough was enough. I bought a used G4 Cube, a copy of OS X, and have never looked back.

I was reminded of this today when I read that Windows guru Chris Pirillo has made the switch to a Mac Pro as his main computer and OS X as his main operating system. It’s a decision he’s come to after a lot of thought and research.

Microsoft does some amazing things – very amazing things. My choice, however, for a primary desktop operating system is no longer Windows – it’s Mac OS X. Duh. It’s rather difficult to admit that officially, if only because… well, I think Microsoft does amazing things. They’ve also been quite supportive of my own efforts over the years, if only because they understand the value of one user.

It’s interesting because he’s not someone you can write off as an unsophisticated computer user who doesn’t know any better, or as having been “tricked” by Apple’s marketing tactics. He’s a Windows power-user. He prefers OS X.

In time, this will all become easier to manage – but there’s no time like the present to shelve the last ten years of Windows enthusiasm and… switch. I’m fine with being a Microsoft enthusiast in other areas, mind you – very much so. They’re doing too many good things for me to ignore, and their community involvement puts Apple to shame. My choice for an operating system is just that – my choice for an OS.

Now I’m not posting this in order to ‘push’ anyone towards Apple. However, if you’ve been thinking about switching from Windows but aren’t sure if Macs are right for “real” computer users, Chris’ blog post 50 Reasons to Switch from Microsoft Windows to Apple’s Mac OS X may help answer your questions.

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