Sunday, November 04, 2007

Leopard review, iPhone 1.1.2 release and the Google Phone

There is an excellent in depth review of Leopard at Ars Technica, it talks about the Core Animation feature which seems like a very powerful way of specifying device independent animation effects that will work on a desktop or (eventually) on an iPhone.

Now that Apple has got Leopard out, their next move is the UK launch of the iPhone on November 9th, and as I have mentioned before, there is some additional localization needed for this and it appears that this is going to be the main feature of iPhone 1.1.2 release. The UK press is starting to get its hands on the UK product, which is running 1.1.2. The main features are a fairly complete set of worldwide localized languages, a closing of the hole that is currently being used for hacking into the iPhone, and some local features related to the UK deal with O2 and The Cloud for WiFi access, and the UK iTunes music store. There doesn't seem to be any new applications in this release.

There has been a lot of speculation about Google releasing a set of phone applications or perhaps a complete phone OS. They have been working closely with Apple, so there may be some additional/optional iPhone applications coming directly from Google. However, there is currently no support for Java on the iPhone, and some of what Google has been doing is building a suite of Java based mobile applications, so this could be seen as a broadening of Google's mobile support. If Google decides to support a fairly generic mobile Linux (like OpenEmbedded) then it opens up their applications to OpenMoko and the homebrew mobile club's myPhone. What we have today from Google is three mobile applications:

Google Maps on the iPhone (which is probably a native re-write in Objective-C). Google Maps for everyone else (which is written in Java), and I think Google Maps for PalmOS also appears to be a native application. I've used this on Treo, Blackberry and iPhone. Its obviously based on the same backend web services but the user interaction is a little different on each.

Gmail reader, which I have used on Treo and Blackberry appears to be a Java based client. I'd like to see this on the iPhone, so I'm hopeful for a full function iPhone Gmail client.

YouTube viewer on iPhone. This looks more like an Apple application, running against the Google/YouTube web services, and required coordination to get the encoding standardized on H.264. It also supports the AppleTV. I suspect that Google will have a YouTube viewer for other platforms, probably written in Java. It could also be an mp3/music player.

The web browser is a problem that the iPhone has solved, but everyone else has a very fragmented approach, caused in part by lack of memory and CPU power on most phones. There are some open source projects that have got going recently to develop Mobile Mozilla, and there are more mature products like Opera. If Google has been working on its own mobile web browser, then they have been keeping very quiet about it.

Google's office suite is based on AJAX front ends and a back end set of web services that handle presentations, documents and spreadsheets. A mobile front end application could make these much more usable, and I would suspect an iPhone version and/or a more generic Java version could be in the works. The main problem with Google's existing online office suite is that it can't be used when there is no data connection. It would be much more useful to allow some subset of useful operations to work while disconnected.

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