Maybe yes, maybe no

WWDC keynote was today and oodles of announcements, not the least of which the as-expected iPhone 4 announcement. But! There were things relevant to iPad and extant iPhone users too. Let's get to them, shall we?

iBooks

In my review of e-readers for the iPad, I noted some things that were keeping iBooks from becoming the best e-reader over all the others by a wide margin. Three of them were improved bookmarking, viewing PDFs, and the store selection.

Here are the announced improvements to iBooks:

  • In first 65 days, people have downloaded over 5 million books onto their iPads. Five of the six biggest publishers say iBooks accounts for 22% of their e-book market.


22%, you say? The likelihood of a greater selection seems highly likely.

  • Ability to view and read PDF's inside of iBooks.


Good deal. I'm quite anxious to see how my D&D books look in iBooks. There wasn't any word about whether iBooks will support single column reading in landscape mode. If it does, it might not have been announced because it's not really that big of a deal, but still it's something that would improve PDF reading in particular.

  • New control to add bookmarks. Bookmark looks like little red ribbon and shows in the table of contents.


Excellent. I noted that bookmarking in iBooks was the worst in the industry and I'm glad it's been fixed.

  • iBooks enhancements include in-line notes that look like post it notes.


Interesting. I don't notate the books I read so I never even thought to evaluate the other e-readers on this topic. I'll have to revise my review to account for that function.

  • Multiple devices


iBooks is coming out for iPhone (and iPod Touch maybe?) too and, like the Kindle, if you buy a book on any device it's synced to all your devices, so you'll have access to your material no matter what. What's unclear is if this also applies to PDFs. I'm assuming it does.

Unified inbox

At very long last, a unified inbox. This can not come soon enough. Overdue!

Netflix

I wanted to call this out for special mention because this us utterly cool: Netflix is coming to the iPhone in addition to iPad and when you pause your movie on one device, it'll be at that same point waiting for you when you watch it on an another device. I don't even subscribe to Netflix and I'm impressed by this. Very keen.

Farmville

I don't play it (I play We Rule instead) but there are oodles of people who're glad to see Farmville come to the iPhone.

iPhone 4

OK, the biggest announcement: a new iPhone. Is it worth ditching my current iPhone?

Design

Thin, yes, but Apple-ish?

iPhone 4 has a new design—which I'm not an enormous fan of. When the whole Gizmodo thing happened, one of the reasons why I said it was either a hoax or a prototype was that the design did not feel like an Apple design.

I stand by that. It doesn't look like an Apple iPhone to me. It looks boxy. I understand the edges are rounded but the flat boxy look still looks boxy to me. You can see the layers, they're plain. My iPhone is rounded all over except for the screen.

9.3mm thin. Less than a centimeter. It's the thinnest smartphone on the planet—they say—and sure, I'll buy that. But that's not a major concern of mine to be honest. But still. Wow. That's really thin.

Glass on both sides. That's really unexpected and a bit crazy. It makes some sense in that the glass they already use is scratch resistant (and is actual glass and not plastic) so this should make the iPhone 4 a lot more purse-durable. I'd still be too afraid to drop it into the purse I wear all the time without it being in a comfy sock. Actually, if I socked up the keys that're in there, I could probably get away with just dumping the iPhone in there and being done with the whole idea of even the sock. Hmm.

Face Time

This is Apple's new open standard for video chat. The number of video chats I've participated in in my lifetime is zero. I don't even like talking on the iPhone and prefer using texts, so as you might imagine Face Time is not a big deal for me. I'm sure it is with other folks though.

LED Flash

Finally. Other phones have enjoyed a flash and it's about time the iPhone did. If you've seen, well, pretty much any D&D game photo I've ever taken you will note that most everything appears in silhouette. That's got to change and this, oddly enough, is a major selling point for me.

Also, the LED flash can be kept on all the time to serve as a continuous light for HD video.

HD Video

iPhone 4 takes 720p HD video at 30 fps and, importantly, has iMovie for iPhone which will allow you to make sophisticated—for the situation—edits to your videos before you send them out. This is keen. I've taken videos with my iPhone before (in fact you may view all of them on my YouTube channel). But YouTube automatically downgrades the quality of the video so for me personally I'm not sure this feature has a lot of utility for me.

Retina Display

My current iPhone 3GS has 163 ppi (pixels per inch). iPhone 4 has 366 ppi and displays 960x420 with a 880:1 contrast ratio. Christ, that's sharp. I said before (I think on my Twitter feed) that I feared the rumor that the resolution of the iPhone was going to dramatically increase. After all, if there are more pixels then what difference does it make on a touch interface on a screen that size? Would the interface be more difficult to precisely control since one's fat finger is less than 366 ppi? Apparently not—it's all about displaying things, not interfacing.



If you look at the Retina Display page on Apple's site they have an explanation and demo of it. Alas, I'd have to see one in person and, ideally, look at my iPhone and the iPhone 4 side-by-side to determine whether the quality difference is significant enough to make me want to buy the phone.

But from this distance, wow, that's a really sharp display.

Gyroscope

Crazy. iPhone 4 has a gyroscope in addition to the accelerometers found in current iPhones. Of course the first thing I thought of was game control. With a gyro added to the mix the amount of fine control we could have over games could be extraordinary. And awesome.

Conclusion

Lots of little things that I'm not quite sure adds up to a must-buy for me which is in contrast to all previous models of iPhone—I was totally in "gotta have" mode as soon as I heard about them.

The thing is, iPhone 4 includes features that I'm not really sure how often I'd use day-to-day. I don't take videos very much so would I benefit from the HD video?

The flash would actually be very useful and compelling since I take photos all the time but is it worth getting a new iPhone for?

The display sounds like it would be super-gorgeous awesome but, um, I was about to say I'm using my iPad more than my iPhone now anyway but actually that's not the truth. I keep my iPad on for dramatically longer stretches of time but I refer to my iPhone a lot more during the course of a day. When I turn on my iPad, it's usually to settle in for a chunk of time, even if it's for 15 minutes. So actually maybe the super-awesome display would make a big difference after all since I'm all the time using my iPhone.

I might be talking myself into it. Maybe not. I'll have to think upon this matter.

And, importantly, I'll have to hold one in my hand.