A-list iPhone 4 reviews appear [Updated]

The dons of technical writing have published their iPhone 4 reviews. Apple has charmed them all, including Uncle Walt. Calling the iPhone 4 “…a major leap over its already-excellent predecessor,” Mossberg’s review was largely positive. From All Things D:

“I’d say that Apple has built a beautiful smartphone that works well, adds impressive new features and is still, overall, the best device in its class.”

The downside? AT&T. Mossberg:

“Just as with its predecessors, I can’t recommend this new iPhone for voice calling for people who experience poor AT&T reception, unless they are willing to carry a second phone on a network that works better for them.”

I hoped the antenna-as-casing would improve reception for those of us who struggle with reliability. I’ll have to test it in my own neighborhood, of course, but this is disappointing to hear.

Joshua Topolsky wrote Engadget’s extremely thorough iPhone 4 review, complete with HTML5 videos that play on the iPhone and iPad. Not only does Topolsky offer the best representation of the Retina Display’s clarity that I’ve seen yet, he also contradicts Mossberg’s assessment of  the phone’s call reception:

“…in our testing, we had far, far fewer dropped calls than we experienced on our 3GS. Let’s just say that again: yes, the iPhone 4 does seem to alleviate the dropped call issue.”

David Pogue’s piece for the New York Times is also out. One of my favorite bits confirms my assertions about Apple:

“It’s not the first phone with both a front and back camera. It’s not even the first one to make video calls. But the iPhone 4 is the first phone to make good video calls, reliably, with no sign-up or setup, with a single tap.”

David’s experience with iPhone 4’s “killer app” — making calls — was similar to Joshua’s:

“The new phone is also better at choosing the best channel for connecting with the cell tower, even if’s not technically the strongest one … Does any of this mean no more dropped calls in New York and San Francisco? No. But there do seem to be fewer of them.”

I’m still waiting on Andy Ihnatko.

iOS naming conventions [Update]

Now that the iPhone OS has officially been re-branded as “iOS,” I was wondering how to refer to older versions. For example, should I say “iOS 3.1.3” or “iPhone OS 3.1.3?”

The Macintosh operating system was referred to as “system” thorough version 7.5. Version 7.5.1 used “OS” in the startup splash screen, and the name formally acquired the “OS” with “Mac OS 7.6” as a response to the clone program. If writing about an older Mac, I’d use “system 7.0” or “OS 9.1” for example.

In this case, the operating system has expanded to run iPods, iPhones and the iPad. Consider that “The iTunes Music Store” became “iTunes” when Apple started selling movies, TV shows, audio books and so on.

In the App Store today I noticed that Apple is indeed using “iOS” to refer to older versions of the system; the iBooks page notes that the app works with “…iOS 3.2 or later.”

“iOS” it is then.

Update: John Gruber confirms that iOS 3.2, currently running on the iPad, is a separate fork from iOS 4. I always assumed that wasn’t the case.

Apple sells three million iPads in 80 days

Steve jobs, from Apple’s press release:

“We’re working hard to get this magical product into the hands of even more people around the world, including those in nine more countries next month.”

The first million units sold within 28 days, and Apple reached the 2 million mark in “less than 60 days.” Let’s assume the second million sold within 59 days. That means the 3rd million sold in exactly three weeks.

International sales introduced a huge pool of potential new customers, of course, but still.

Bloodbath.

The iPhone early delivery email

Many customers who ordered an iPhone on June 15th received an email overnight stating that it would arrive on the 23rd, not the 24th as originally promised.

There’s a grammatical error in the 2nd paragraph which reads, “…you can check the FedEx website the morning of the June 23rd,” followed by a link. It’s probably an honest mistake, but that’s unlike Apple. I’d check http://store.apple.com instead of the link in the message, just to be safe.

New device images

While we’re waiting for iOS 4’s release, Apple has updated the device images in iTunes. My iPhone is still running 3.1.3, yet the icon shows an iOS 4 screenshot. iOS 4 is expected to begin propagating at 1:00 PM Eastern.

I’m curious if late-model iPod touch owners are seeing the same thing.

Update: Grant Buell confirms the same thing on his 64GB iPod touch.

FaceTime won’t use carrier minutes

Business Insider reports that FaceTime calls won’t use your carrier minutes, even if initiated during a voice call. It shouldn’t, as FaceTime requires Wi-Fi. The question was whether the voice call would be maintained in the background in case the FaceTime call drops. The answer is no.

People will complain that FaceTime is unavailable over 3G, but you can’t participate in a video call while doing many of the things that you do during a voice call. Plus, FaceTime over AT&T’s notoriously spotty network would be a disappointment. Over Wi-Fi, it will be fantastic and hugely popular.

iPhone 4 with 512 RAM

Each iPhone model has had more RAM than its predecessor. The original had 128MB, the 3GS has 256MB and the iPhone 4 has 512MB.

The iPhone 4 also has Apple’s A4 processor, just like the iPad. Think of how responsive the iPad is with the A4 and 256MB RAM, and you realize two things.

First, iPhone 4 will be very fast. More importantly, it confirms that Apple’s patience is its greatest asset. With this much RAM and the A4, the iPhone is finally ready for often-requested features like 3rd party multitasking, a high resolution display and video calling. Those features would have been dismal on less powerful models, marring the experience for millions and damaging the iPhone’s reputation.

Expect this trend to continue. Apple will introduce technologies later than competitors, but the execution will be much, much better.

Apple’s incredible patience

John Gruber, in reference to the late arrival of a front-facing camera on iPhone 4:

“[Apple will] only include hardware for which they have compelling software to complete the experience.”

I’ll add that Apple will only release hardware or software when its developers have devised the best way to achieve their goal(s) with said hardware or software. So steadfast is their resolve in this matter that they’ll endure public ridicule (“The iPad needs a camera!”) without complaint until the objective is met. To me, that’s the single most impressive thing about this company.