7 years ago

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.

iphone4-1One 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…

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.



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  2. The Week in Travel Tech - TripAdvisor LinkGate, iPhone 4, Social-Search Battle | Tnooz

    […] iPhone 4: What does an upgraded handset do for travel […]

  3. Chetan Kapoor

    FaceTime, I assume will be the most helpful and more and more hotspots across the globe will only help in making this mode of communication sans data usage popular.

    As far as apps-usage is concerned, I assume AT&T’s announcement of capping data usage may have an impact of sharing data (photos, videos) while traveling overseas for many Americans and I’m not sure how comfortable are people in paying for over-and-above the given usage.

  4. Bob

    FaceTime can only be used over wi-fi right now, so no need to worry about roaming charges. Of course, this will change in the future.

  5. Jack LIfe

    the new camera is ok, i am however impressed with the front facing camera, although it is ten years late….imo

  6. Joe Buhler

    While none of the new features announced today will have a significant impact on travel related use, except the higher quality camera and HD video recording, they are another step in innovation that raises the bar for competitors. This will ultimately benefit this consumer. What I also suspect is that when Apple is ready to introduce iTravel it will not be a mere me-too service but most likely another innovative solution integrating elements not seen elsewhere.

  7. Gary Arndt

    The big thing to me is the new camera. The iPhone camera is mediocre at best. The better cameras get in mobile phones, the less need there is to carry another object with you in your pocket.

    I haven’t seen any samples yet, but if the image quality is good enough, it could replace a point and shoot still camera and well as a Flip video camera.

    Video editing on the phone is also appealing.

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    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Turisdata and Tnooz HQ, Kevin May. Kevin May said: iPhone 4: What does an upgraded handset do for travel http://bit.ly/baOITl [Tnooz] […]

  9. David Janes

    Our take:

    1. GPS in the background is huge, meaning it will be practical to do “walking/driving tour” type apps without tripping over battery drain issues. This is a general iOS 4 thing and will benefit all iPhone owners.

    2. FaceTime-type functionality means there’s likely to be APIs that will allow practical real time video uploading, which will be excellent for sharing trip experiences and will facilitate creation of new app functionality, such as leaving little video messages around for other travelers, etc..

    3. Improved video/photos in general will make more exciting “Share My Trip” functions.

    4. Improved screen resolution is likely to help older travelers, for whom the iPhone experience may not be so great because of weaker eyesight.

    I wouldn’t get too out on a limb on what iTravel will do and when it will do it. It seems too “feature-y” and probably will surface as part of a more general solution for booking and purchasing on the iPhone.

  10. Tony Short

    I think 4.0 is very good news for iPhone apps for mainly the points you mention. The camera will be closer to what travellers need for their shots – the 720p video for the new phone looks impressive.

    Multi-tasking will make saving photos and uploading to blogs and social media sites more bearable.

    Not sure about the background GPS – doesn’t it only work from cell towers?

    Calendar updating I think is in there which will help with itinerary based apps.

    Looking forward to downloading it and getting to grips with it 🙂


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