It was formally introduced by Steve Jobs in his keynote speech at Macworld 2007. Is it a phone, an ipod, a communicator or is it a revolutionary moment in mobile browsing?
What’s so revolutionary about it for designers and developers? Well, in amongst features like a 160 ppi, 3.5inch touch screen display is a little snippet about it running full version Safari and Mac OSX. No, really let me say it again a different way: Safari just went mobile with the iPhone; the first phone to ship with a standards compliant browser as standard!
Steve Jobs used the New York Times web site as an example. A (partially) standards compliant web site built to an XHTML 1.0 Transitional doctype displaying perfectly on a phone. Revolutionary. Truly. It even uses some kind of zoom to shrink–fit the whole 1024px wide NY Times site in to a 320px wide portrait view. Flip the phone 90 degrees and the interface flips to landscape view with 480px of width. Safari, like all the other apps expands to fill the screen. The site is too small to read though. Well, double tap any part of the screen and you zoom to a legible size. Tap again and zoom again. Use two fingers in a pincer movement to zoom in and out in what looks like beautifully intuitive way that won’t trash our sites. So you’ve zoomed but you need to scroll around the page to see something else. It’s a touch screen: Move a finger, scroll around; move two, zoom in and out. Gorgeous!
Here’s a snapshot of features:
I confess, amongst the carefully crafted marketing excitement and hype the Safari demo alone broke me out in a grin. I want one just for that. Apple marketing folks, technologists and interface visionaries take note: Your job is well done – June is just too long to wait. The UK European release won’t be the end of this year! Not cool. I'll be importing.
The cost has been mentioned as somewhere in the region of $500 – $600 (approx £260 – £310 in real money).
Time — and my inevitable purchase and testing — will tell what effect the 160ppi resolution and Safari modifications (if any) has on our work but it’s definitely a revolutionary moment, if only for the fact that a huge portion of our audience will be using this device in time to come. We might even be able (crosses fingers) to talk to them without separate mobile specific sub domains or heavily modified site versions.
There are questions hovering in the back of my mind. Will the zoom feature deal have implications for design? How will it effect web apps and what does it mean for the CSS handheld media type? The US mobile phone company, Cingular (now part of AT&T) made network level changes to accommodate some of the unique features like random access voicemail. They will be the only network in the States to deliver bandwidth the iPhone. What about Europe? There are a few other questions too but, for now, a round of applause (again) for Apple. The world would be a poorer place with it and now every other phone I see looks like half finished idea.
Further iPhone reading:
I’ll see you — and your sites — via my iPhone around June!
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