iPhone 4: What does an upgraded handset do for travel
Acres of coverage across the web following the official unveiling of the new iPhone handset by Apple CEO Steve Jobs. But what does it give the traveller?
Much has been made of the new device in the run up to today’s announcement, not least when an allegedly stolen handset found its way into the hands of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen.
But away from the hype and the moral issues behind paying for dodgy goods, a first look at the iPhone 4 gives little indication as to what travellers will get from it.
This is because visually it doesn’t actually look drastically different – slighter squarer edges, metallic design, but very little else.
So it’s under the hood that will help lure in new owners? Probably (unless our own Node Timothy O’Neil-Dunne gets his way)…
For travellers there isn’t a single new feature on the handset that’s a killer piece of functionality, such as the introduction of the widely talked about iTravel function – but there are enough new tools to suggest that as a suite of improvements it improves massively on the existing iPhone model when it comes to travel-related functionality.
One of the most high profile of the new features is the FaceTime tool, allowing video calls between users and making use of the new dual-camera system (front and back) – handy, roaming charges notwithstanding, for overseas calls perhaps?
There is an improved camera system on the handset (5 megapixels) and Apple’s iMovie will be installed as standard for editing user generated HD movies.
Operationally, it looks like Apple has listened to those that have bemoaned how just a dozen or two downloaded apps eventually creates rather unfriendly page after page of icons. Apps can now be grouped into different topics or themes.
But perhaps the most important element of the upgrade is the multi-tasking functionality.
Until now iPhones have been limited to single use for different services – a frustrating bar on its functionality, especially for those using apps or instant messaging systems such as Skype.
The iPhone 4 will allow multiple tasks to be carried out at the same time such as email and the camera, calendar and currency converter.
And arguably the most useful service for the traveller, GPS tracking, will run constantly (if required) so users do not need to restart an app or piece of functionality each time they fire it up.
With so many travel-related apps dependent on the GPS connection but often causing irritation to users as they seemingly start again when opened, this could be seen as a major step forward for the handset.
Not that it needs much encouragement…
Kevin May is editor and a co-founder of Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution for nearly four years and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has also worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology and a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism.