There's no doubt that Apple's iPhone has changed the landscape of the smart-phone industry, and indeed the mobile phone business as a whole. But one of the most revolutionary advances that Apple offered up isn't in the iPhone itself: It's the mechanism the company developed to distribute non-Apple applications to iPhone and iPod Touch users.
Stories by Ryan Faas
Apple was a busy company in 2008. Over the past twelve months, the number of Apple-branded products on the street has become so broad and ubiquitous that it's hard to go a day without seeing evidence of it, even if you're not a Mac, iPhone or iPod owner.
After the release of the iPhone 3G (and the iPhone 2.0 update for first-generation iPhones), I reviewed the challenges facing corporate IT departments integrating the iPhone as a business device. In that three-part series, I looked at how to handle mass iPhone configuration and deployments, how to configure the iPhone to function in an Exchange environment, and the issues and rewards involved in developing custom in-house iPhone apps.
Apple hasn't done much talking about Snow Leopard, the next-generation update to Mac OS X that's due to be released in 2009 (possibly within the first quarter of the year). But in what came as a surprise to many, the company has said that the new operating system will contain a limited number of new features.
In <a href="http://computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9114427">Part 2</a> of my series on rolling out the <a href="http://www.computerworld.com/action/inform.do?command=search&searchTerms=Apple+iPhone">iPhone</a> as a business device, I talked about integration in an Exchange environment. Though the iPhone supports all common e-mail protocols, Exchange is the only business-oriented option for offering push notification of new messages as well as over-the-air updates to calendar and contact items. Sure, push notification and update is supported by Apple's MobileMe -- and push e-mail notification is supported for Yahoo Mail accounts. But neither of these would be considered viable options for most businesses.
One of the big selling points for Mac OS X Leopard is that it is a stable operating system that is not prone to crashes, freezes, corrupted or fragmented hard drives, viruses and spyware, or the seemingly inexplicable performance losses typically associated with Windows. Overall, Leopard lives up to its reputation of simply working, without the need for a litany of maintenance routines and utilities to keep it going.
In Part 1 of this series, I looked at the mechanisms available to IT staffers to activate, deploy and configure iPhones in business environments. But the biggest new business-oriented feature available on the iPhone, thanks to the iPhone 2.x firmware (included with the iPhone 3G and available for free to users of first-generation iPhones or for US$9.95 for iPod Touch users), is the addition of ActiveSync for accessing Microsoft Exchange.
One of the major selling points for Macs and Mac OS X Leopard these days is their ability to work well in a largely Windows world. Apple offers two ways to accomplish this task: Leopard's ability to share files and printers with Windows machines, and the ability of Intel-based Macs to run Windows using either Boot Camp (which is included free as part of Leopard) or third-party virtualization tools.
Whether you're writing a report, editing home movies and posting them to YouTube, or managing complex spreadsheets, you want to do it as quickly and easily as possible. But because we all develop our own habits for using a computer -- maybe somebody showed us how to do things a certain way or we've figured them out on our own through trial and error -- we don't always work in the most efficient or organized manner.
One of biggest stories behind the release of the iPhone 3G -- and the iPhone 2.0 firmware update for first-generation iPhones -- was the inclusion of features designed for use in business environments. While many analysts and enterprise users have argued in recent weeks about whether the iPhone can replace Research In Motion's BlackBerry as the prevailing smart phone for business, little has been said about the tools and processes that Apple offers systems administrators to actually deploy and manage iPhones at work.
Terminal servers are nothing new in the computing world, particularly for enterprise environments. Citrix and Windows Terminal Services have been around for well over a decade. While terminal servers may not be new, their host operating systems (those that are available to connect users to the server) have, by and large, been versions of Windows. Last fall, a new company called AquaConnect did something unheard of: It unveiled the first Mac terminal server the world had ever seen.
As I write this, my new white 16GB iPhone 3G is in the process of syncing about 10GB of music from my iTunes library. This is my second sync. Although I was one of the lucky ones able to both buy and eventually activate an iPhone 3G on Friday, I at first opted to copy over the same paltry 2GB of music that was stored on my first-generation 4GB iPhone along with my e-mail accounts and a handful of applications from the App Store. Having waited close to four hours in line at a New York AT&T store, close to 20 minutes for the purchase process, and another four-plus hours attempting to activate my iPhone at home via iTunes, I simply couldn't wait for a full sync before putting my iPhone through its paces.
The laptop trackpad has come a long way since Apple Inc. pioneered it 14 years ago on the PowerBook 500 series as a replacement for the trackball found on earlier models.
Apple's second generation iPhone -- officially unveiled this week by Apple CEO Steve Jobs and dubbed the iPhone 3G -- is slated to hit the shelves of Apple and AT&T stores across the US (and in 21 other nations) on July 11. The iPhone 3G will sport both cosmetic and serious under-the-hood upgrades from the current model and will feature a new, lower purchase price. It will also ship with the iPhone 2.0 firmware, offering access to a host of new operating system features, most notably the ability to install third-party applications using the App Store.
There's something I have to say at the outset of this review: From the time Apple announced the first 17-in. PowerBook G4 models five years ago, I've always been a little prejudiced against them. I'd never have tried to talk someone out of buying one, but I always shared my opinion that a laptop with a 17-in. display barely qualifies as a laptop at all. It seemed to me that the 17-in. PowerBook and its successor, the Intel-based MacBook Pro, was simply too big, too bulky and too heavy -- though I confess I'd never carried one around.