22 February 2007

The inevitable iPhone-y post


The post is inevitable because the current king of shiny gadgets which must be resisted has got to be the Apple iPhone, and it is not even on sale yet!

I am not going to argue about whether any of the technologies presented in the iPhone are particularly groundbreaking, but I do want to say that I am not all that impressed. I do appreciate the interface which has prompted all sorts of copycat skins from Blackberries to Treos. The one which has drawn the most ire from Apple, however, is, understandably, the skins for Windows Pocket PC devices.

Now, I have an old iPAQ h4350 which runs Pocket PC 2003 first edition. Normally it stays connected to the internet via WiFi, and it runs Skype. With good noise cancellation and a decent microphone, this does as well as most dedicated Skype phones. The h4350, however, also has a built-in QWERTY keyboard which makes it ideal for instant messaging with Skype and MSN messenger, so in that sense it is already more versatile.

Because you can customise the interface as much as you like with a Pocket PC, I decided to create an iPhone skin. I made my own, but these are readily available all over the internet, much to Apple's annoyance no doubt. The interface sure looks nicer. As for the functions, I have installed Windows Live Search mobile which runs really well and gives good aerial and line maps of most places in the U.K. The weather button links to Weather Watcher, and the stocks button links to AvantGo, all of which are free 3rd-party programs.

Is there a point to this? Well, no, not really, but it does go to show how a 4-year old PDA which can be had quite cheaply on eBay, can approximate the looks and functionality (and in some ways exceed them) of what is currently in vogue.

And when the iPhone becomes passé, and some other gadget takes it place, the h4350 can be modified again.

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