The iPhone is a series of smartphones designed by Apple Inc, a US based company that is known for the application of innovative and cutting-edge technology in various products including home and office electronics, music gadgets and computer and phone software.
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The first iPhone was released on June 2007 (Pogue, 2009). The company has so far released four versions of the products, namely: iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, and iPhone 4. The company is set to release the fifth generation of iPhone, known as iPhone 5 later this year.
The iPhone user interface provides multiple user interaction and incorporates the concepts of direct input and touch. The operating system that runs the device is based on the same one used in the iPod Touch and iPad, both manufactured by Apple, Inc.
Features of the IPhone
All lines of the iPhone contain basic features associated with smartphones such the ability to capture videos and pictures, sending text messages, receiving voicemail, internet connectivity, and an Internet client with email and document management features.
The user-interface, which is the space where the user interacts with the device, is built around the multi-touch screen. The multi-touch screen also features a virtual keyboard as the iPhone does not have a physical keyboard. The screen is the main mode of interacting with the device.
General Use of the iPhone
As mentioned earlier, the main mode of interacting with the iPhone is through a multi-touch screen. This touchscreen is a 3.5-inch display with scratch resistant glass. The screen is very sensitive and senses slight finger touches, or multiple fingers for multi-touch operations such as swipe, tap, pinch, and reverse pinch (Pogue, 2009).
The device has undergone several improvements in its display abilities, wit the iPhone 4 having the best display among the series. Besides, screen sensitivity is tremendously improved and as a result, response to user input is swift and smooth.
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The iPhone has very little hardware for input of information. A menu button is placed below the screen and closes the active apps, allowing the user to return the user to the home screen. A multi-use sleep/wake button is situated on the top part of the gadget.
The button serves several functions: it is the power button, control voice calls, silences incoming voice calls, and transfers incoming calls to voicemail (Pogue, 2009). Two buttons on the left hand side of the device are used to control volume, and directly above these buttons is a silence switch that mutes all sounds when in use
It is important to recognize that the iPhone’s display area reads intricate gestures through multi-touch. For instance, if user to move content up and down, he simply does this through a touch-drag finger motion. In order to enlarge images and web pages, a user places the two fingers on the screen and pulls then farther apart, a technique known as reverse pinch, or does a pinch finger motion to view in the default size. Scrolling through a long list is achieved by sliding a finger on the screen from bottom to top (LeVitus and Baig, 2010).
Using the Media features of the Device
The iPhone is a powerful media device, integrating several features from the iPod, Apples’ equally powerful media player. However, a user must first install iTunes on their computers so that they can transfer songs, videos, photos, audiobooks, podcasts and other portable media files into the iPhone.
ITunes is a software that acts as a media player on the computer and is used for synchronizing media files between a computer and either an iPod or iPhone. The software can be downloaded freely from Apple’s website. Media files can be opened by selecting them from media player, where they are organized by songs, artists, albums, videos, playlists, genres, composers, podcasts, audiobooks, and compilations.
The design of the music library on the iPhone is identical to that of an iPod. While playing videos, users can switch to portrait or landscape modes according to the aspect ratio of the videos. The landscape mode enables a user to access Cover Flow, a feature that displays different album covers in a scroll through photo gallery (LeVitus and Baig, 2010).
The iPhone allows users to watch television shows and films in widescreen. Double touching the display area switches between fullscreen and widescreen view modes. Volume is altered through the volume control hardware or through a slider on the screen.
To access the vast multimedia features of the iPhone, a user taps the iTunes icon and browses the required files. To purchase music, video, podcasts, photos and other media files online, an iTunes Store account is required, if a user has already created one and has transferred funds into it, then he/she scrolls and selects or searches for the required content. Download of the selected files begins immediately. A new iTunes Store account can be created through the same application.
Using the Camera
All generations of the iPhone have a camera fixed on the back for capturing photos. Later versions of the iPhone’s operating system allow users to insert location information in the pictures, creating photos with location information attached to them (Pogue, 2009).
IPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 have video capture abilities. These models also allow video editing. The iPhone 4 is also fitted has a second camera located on the front that can be used for taking photos, video recording, and video calling (LeVitus and Baig, 2010). To activate a camera, a user taps on the camera icon located on the touchscreen, to switch to video mode, simply tap on the ‘Options’ button and select video capture.
Internet connectivity is possible through local network (such as that restricted to an airport of university) or a wide area network provided by a cellular service provider such as AT&T. 3G connectivity is only available through the iPhone 3G and iPhone 4 versions.
By default, the device will ask a user to join a Wi-Fi network whenever it detects one, however, this can also be done manually (LeVitus and Baig, 2010). It will automatically connect to the strongest network available. When flying, users are advised to switch over to Bluetooth or Wi-Fi (Pogue, 2009).
IPhone users can browse the web through the Safari browser, the browser is designed by Apple and is used in all Apple devices. Websites can be viewed in landscape or portrait and can be enlarged by multi-touch finger motions (Pogue, 2009). It is important that a user know how to use the internet as it allows one to access unlimited information on almost all topics, such as weather, stocks, events, latest news, entertainment, academic materials, communicate with others, purchase items and pay online, and so on.
To begin a browsing session, a user taps on the Safari browser icon on the screen and inputs the right web address. If the text on the screen is too small, the size can be increased by a techniques described above, known as reverse-pinch.
E-mail and text messages
Due to the significance of internet communication through email, the iPhone features an advanced e-mail program to assist in communication. This email program enables the user to attach image files contained in the phone to an e-mail message.
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PDF, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint attachments can also be viewed and edited using a combination of touch motions and the virtual keyboard on the display area. To have an easier input of text, users should use the landscape view mode. A magnifying glass is activated by pressing and holding a section of the keyboard. The keyboard can predict text and has an auto-correct feature.
Text messages allow phone users to communicate via short messages. In the iPhone, text messages are arranged chronologically in similar style as e-mails, where messages from recipients and replies are grouped together.
The iPhone series of smartphones have been hailed not only as a breakthrough internet communication, but also as a revolutionary touchscreen device and has altered the way people view and use smartphones.
These devices incorporate the latest cutting edge technologies in the electronic world, and is regularly a pioneer of most of these applications. The iPhone has definitely altered people’s view and experiences while using smartphones. However, the capability of the device can be optimized by knowing how to use the various built-in applications and features.
LeVitus, Bob, and Baig, Edward C. IPhone For Dummies, 4th Ed. NJ: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2010.
Pogue, David. IPhone: the missing manual. Sebastopol CA: O’Reilly Mediam, Inc., 2009.