Waxing iNostalgic – iPhone’s 10th Anniversary

I’ve got very specific memories of using Apple’s early iPhones…

I’ve been an iPhone user for quite a long time. In fact, I covered iPhone 3G Day for Gear Diary’s Judie Lipset Stanford back in the day when I helped her get Gear Diary off the ground as writer number 3 for the site (Judie was writer number 1, Mitchel Oke was writer number 2…). Back then, Gear Diary was really a mobile first site, covering any and all mobile technologies. I wrote a lot for her between 2006 and 2008.

In July of 2008, I stood in line at a local AT&T store and picked up an 8GB iPhone 3G. It was the big boy back in its day, and it was the BOMB… or so I thought. I ended up selling the device just three months later. It wasn’t a hard decision to make, as I recall. At the time, I had had just about enough.

At that time, AT&T had a HUGE wireless coverage problem. At the time, no one seemed to be able to understand that a wireless internet device was only as good as the coverage it needed for internet connectivity. I, however, put two and two together, and made the “3G light bulb” come on for many bloggers. At the time, someone submitted my article to Slashdot, and Gear Diary came down as a result of the entire internet reading the article… apparently, all at the same time. It was very exciting, but very troubling for the site, as we tried to figure out how to keep it from falling over due to the avalanche of traffic.

Ultimately, it was AT&T’s numerous coverage issues that caused me to dump my iPhone 3G. To be honest, I just couldn’t take it any longer. When you’re sitting completely still, and your call drops 8 times in under 30 minutes, something has to change. That kind of connectivity problem didn’t exist with other smartphones at the time. I sold my iPhone 3G and was much, much happier.

However, I recognized and realized that the formula that Apple was working on would eventually gain ground over both Blackberry and PocketPC (Microsoft), the two industry leaders at the time, and had mixed feelings about my sold iPhone soon after. However, I was determined to wait it out.

I came back to iPhone with the iPhone 4S, three full revisions later (the iPhone 3Gs and the iPhone 4 were released prior to the iPhone 4S). By that point, Apple’s ecosystem of apps, music and video content had matured enough that it was a much more compelling smartphone choice; AND more importantly, AT&T had done a great deal of clean up on their network coverage issues. I’ve been a consistent iPhone user since the release of the iPhone 4S, and so has the rest of my family.

With 2017 being the 10th anniversary of Apple’s iconic iPhone, I’m looking forward to the release of whatever they end up designating as their 10th Anniversary model, be that the iPhone 8, the iPhone X. By any name, it’s bound to be an iconic device, and definitely one for the history books.

Stick around, kids. I’ve got some really fun and interesting Apple related updates and reviews coming in the next week or so.

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AT&T-Mo – I Love you, but I’m not IN Love with You

AT&T has finally admitted defeat in its proposed $39B USD takeover of GSM rival, T-Mobile USA. So… NOW what?

I saw the news a few weeks ago and part of me was both relieved and sad.  AT&T has given up on consummating its proposed $39B USD takeover of GSM rival, T-Mobile USA. So the big question left for us Monday Morning Quarter backs is simple – Now what?

In their announcement, AT&T chairman and CEO, Randall Stephenson, indicates that the transaction was about spectrum and capacity – meaning that AT&T can’t meet the needs of its customers without the ability to add additional capacity to their network.  They need wireless spectrum to satisfy the needs of their LTE rollout while still keeping their EDGE, UMTS and HPSA/HPSA+ networks functioning. Now that they’ve dropped the transaction they owe Deutsche Telekom a great deal of money and, interestingly enough, wireless spectrum.  In a press released late in the afternoon on December 19th, Stephenson states,

“To reflect the break-up considerations due Deutsche Telekom, AT&T will recognize a pretax accounting charge of $4 billion in the 4th quarter of 2011.  Additionally, AT&T will enter a mutually beneficial roaming agreement with Deutsche Telekom.”

What I’m most interested in is the “mutually beneficial roaming agreement.”  There’s no additional information on this at this time. I can find no details on the agreement or what this means to either AT&T or T-Mobile USA.  If it means that T-Mo users will have access to AT&T’s 3G network and vice-versa, that…would be awesome. That could enable 3G speeds on all unlocked iPhones on T-Mo.  It could provide AT&T customers with additional stability (meaning less dropped calls) …but without the details on the roaming agreement, this is really speculation at best.

It’s also been reported that T-Mobile has been refarming some of their spectrum and networks in Utah, Nevada, and Northern California to use the 1900mHz band for 3G.  Even in these areas, it’s not wide spread, and in small pockets.  However, unlocked iPhones (as well as other unlocked phones that make use of the 1900mHz band) in those areas are getting 3G speeds, on T-Mobile.  One can only hope that they do more of this, and perhaps arrange the AT&T roaming agreement to enable this, in larger areas.

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Streaming vs. Download – What Happens when the Cloud Evaporates?

It’s all well and good until the darn cloud is gone…so which is better, streaming or downloading?

The cloud is a wonderful thing, and it can mean and be many different things to many different people.  However, no matter what it is, no matter what it does, the cloud has one big problem.  Users must rely on the internet to get access to it and its resources.

This means different things to different people, depending on your location.  In Europe, with the requirement for ubiquitous 3G coverage throughout the European Union, and with high speed internet coming from cable and satellite providers, people can get access to the cloud and its technology from just about anywhere.  In the US, it’s a little different.

There are still many states that are without complete 3G coverage and, in some cases, without broadband internet.  The problem with all of this is that many new and soon to launch services, like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and iCloud rely on internet access to provide the service.  Slower speed services like dial-up, DSL/ADSL and EDGE don’t handle the download requirements well, and performance of these services over these slower access services, is poor. So, there’s a problem with these streaming services when service is inconsistent.

When service simply stops – i.e. when your network connection is totally interrupted via a power outage or a service outage, when the cloud evaporates – there’s a huge problem.  There is no service.  Without a local copy of whatever resources you’re trying to access, you’re out of luck.

Services like Netflix, Hulu, Pandora and Amazon Prime – those that rely on streaming for service delivery (with or without any kind of local cached data) – aren’t functional when network service is interrupted.  Services like iCloud, which run through iTunes and may have a complete, local copy of the content you are trying to enjoy, may be better, provided they switch to the local copy if communication with the host service is interrupted.  At the very least, you could restart the media and fast forward the audio or video on the local copy to the point you were at on the streamed copy provided you can put your hands on it.

The problem is consistent, high speed network access and the fact that it isn’t available everywhere, all the time.  The problem is also storage space on your PC, laptop, smartphone or tablet.  SD & HD video can often vary in size from about 1GB to 4GB.  When many smartphones and tablets often have 8GB to 16GB of storage to start, it makes it hard to store a complete movie or TV show on your device. If you do, you run the risk of running out of needed space for mail, pictures or other items.

The bottom line is this – until internet access reaches utility status (like water or electricity), users are going to have to choose between using your internet access and streaming content to where ever you are, or carrying it with you. If you stream and you bump into a connectivity problem, you won’t get your content. If you store locally and need space later, you may not be able to add content (like pictures) on the fly.  You’re going to have to be willing to choose one or the other and be aware of its limitations.

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Sony Tablet in two versions with Android 3.0

Sony Corporation (“Sony”), announced “Sony Tablet” project, two tablets with unprecedented design, including S1 (codename) which is optimized for rich media entertainment and S2 (codename) which is ideal for mobile communication and entertainment. “Sony Tablet” will become available in the global market starting in fall 2011.

“Sony Tablet” is equipped with the latest Android 3.0 which is designed for devices with larger screen sizes, particularly tablets. Both tablets are WiFi and WAN (3G/4G) compatible and users can not only browse the internet or check e-mail but they can also smoothly access digital content including videos, games and books through Sony’s premium network services and more, on-the-go at any time.

S1 has a 9.4-inch display for enjoying the web and rich content on a large screen. Its off-center of gravity design realizes stability and ease of grip as well as a sense of stability and lightness, offering comfortable use for hours.

S2 has two 5.5-inch displays that can be folded for easy portability. In contrast to existing tablets, its unprecedented dual screen presentation and usability allows its displays to be combined and used as a large screen or for different functions such as playing video on one screen while showing control buttons on the other.

An interesting feature will enable users to control home entertainment devices through S1 infrared technology working as a universal remote controls for a variety of AV devices. Also, through DLNA functionality on “Sony Tablet”, users can “throw” personal content to large screen televisions or music to wireless speakers.

Both tablets codenamed “S1” and “S2” are scheduled to be released worldwide in the fall 2011 with prices estimated under $700.

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Sierra Wireless AirLink GX400 for Verizon Wireless

Sierra Wireless AirLink GX400 is a multi-purpose intelligent gateway, a high-performance, modular platform suited for mobile and fixed environments.

Small, rugged form factor, multiple interfaces and standard GPS provide high-value versatility for any location-aware application. With 3G mobile broadband connectivity, designed with versatility and flexibility in mind, the GX400 is suitable for use in mobile environments (AVL/tracking, field service, public safety) or fixed/portable settings (industrial, utilities, security, enterprise, point-of-sale). A powerful ARM 11 class micro-processor and the addition of an expansion slot, leave room for growth via support for additional connection or communications options and future technologies.

Powered by ALEOS™ embedded intelligence and managed by the AirLink Management Services, the GX400 is a “one device fits all” solution that allows customers to deploy and manage the same device for multiple applications, simplifying deployment and management.

The GX400 multi-purpose intelligent gateway provides a flexible platform with multiple interfaces, persistent cellular connectivity and a built-in expansion slot to provide the versatility and scalability required for location-aware M2M applications.

Its compact, rugged form factor and advanced GPS make it a powerful solution, at an affordable price, for both fixed and mobile environments.

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