iPhone – wifi & edge – converged devices

Now that I can talk about the iPhone without just drooling, one of the things I feel a burning demand to pontificate about is the fact that it’s a converged device that “seemlessly switches between networks”. The spec sheet only says that it’s “Wifi (b+g) + EDGE + Bluetooth 2.0. That’s impressive in and of itself, but the “smooth transition” between the networks is damn near a holy grail in the networking world.

(and the short battery life doesn’t at all surprise me – with that networking…)

I don’t expect it, but it is entirely possible to have an IP based phone conversation that would seemless flow from one network to the other. Damned difficult – that was the core concept behind the technology that CoCo Communications was developing – but possible. If you don’t mind a “blip” in the call, it gets a hell of a lot easier. And then there was the talking about “things that Cingular is doing on their network to enable additional functionality that you wouldn’t find in your standard MVNO”. I don’t have any inside info, but the concept of a phone call transitioning from wifi to EDGE (and back again) would have significant consumer benefit. For one thing, EDGE costs a damn fortune comparatively. Especially the way cell carriers charge for the precious packets. If you spent most of your time in a WIFI environment (I do), then all of a sudden that phone data transmission becomes very, very cheap. The carriers, of course, would prefer to keep a lock on your data. Something, I’m sure, will ultimately drive down the price per bit that carriers are currently able to rake.

Location data is the other question that immediately comes to mind. Nobody has (yet) said anything about developer API’s for this phone, but you can bet there’s a huge host developers just about slavering over the fact that you could develop for such a huge market using some real technology like the MacOS X API set. And yeah, I’m one of them. There’s a precious few phones that provide some of the cell carrier data back through the API – I thought it was the Nokia’s, but I’m not sure. Just know the signal strengths and the unique ID’s of the cell towers you’re talking with is enough to get really quite reliable location data within an urban environment. In fact, in a city – it may be far more reliable than GPS, which would have trouble reaching those satellites in the sky… (think deep dark urban canyons).

I think just tonight, while trying to hold conversations that weren’t completely fanatical about today’s announcements, I thought of and forgot about twenty little applications for the phone, using the new interface, and “what if…”. Just wait till someone gets an amusing application going with that accellerometer – I’ve already seen someone write “I’m going to make it a castanet!”

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