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The iPhone is now available - did you buy one? Glenn Fleishman braved the lines at his nearest Apple Store and reports on opening day hysteria (the controlled, efficient kind) and gives his first impressions of the new device. We also detail the iPhone's voice and data plans, and the TidBITS staff chimes in on whether to buy or wait. And although it seems unlikely, there was plenty of non-iPhone news last week, as we note the releases of PDFpen 3.2, MacBook Pro Software Update 1.0, updates to the Final Cut Studio 2 applications, a SuperDrive firmware update, the rest of Adobe Creative Suite 3, and iTunes 7.3 (which does in fact revolve around the iPhone, but throws in an Apple TV feature, too). Lastly, Adam looks at the latest brouhaha in the music world, with Universal Music Group refusing to sign a long-term contract with the iTunes Store.

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MacBook Pro Software Update 1.0 Released

  by Jeff Carlson <>

Apple has released MacBook Pro Software Update 1.0, which fixes a number of unspecified problems with 2.2 GHz and 2.4 GHz MacBook Pro models. According to a post at MacFixIt, the update appears to patch several issues with the Nvidia graphics cards and may solve an issue with "shimmering" display issues. The update is available via Software Update on the affected machines, or as a 14.7 MB download.

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Adobe Ships Rest of Creative Suite 3

  by Glenn Fleishman <>

Adobe Systems has broken with tradition by releasing products promised for third quarter of 2007 on the second day of that quarter. A quarter-based release typically means "as close to the last day of the quarter as possible so we can book the revenue in that quarter."

In April, Adobe released 9 of the 13 main applications that form Creative Suite 3 (CS3) as both individual programs and 6 editions (see "Adobe Announces Creative Suite 3 Plans, Pricing, Dates," 2007-04-02, and "Adobe Ships Creative Suite 3, Offers Video Betas," 2007-04-16). The released programs spanned their entire print and online range, including Photoshop (in two versions, no less), InDesign, and Dreamweaver. The company then promised four video and audio tools and support applications by the third quarter of this year.

Today, Adobe shipped After Effects, Premiere Pro, Soundbooth, and Encore for Intel-based Macs and Windows XP and Vista, along with two Windows-only applications, OnLocation and Ultra. OnLocation, a direct-to-disk recording tool, works with Boot Camp, Adobe says. The two delayed editions are now shipping, too: Production Premium ($1,700) and Master Suite ($2,500). Master Suite contains the entire CS3 line of products.

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Universal Rejects Long-Term Apple iTunes Contract

  by Adam C. Engst <>

The New York Times is reporting that Universal Music Group (owned by the French media giant Vivendi), the largest of the record companies, has refused to renew its two-year contract to sell downloadable music through Apple's iTunes Store. Instead, Universal is opting for a month-by-month option that would enable it to jump ship with minimal notice to Apple, possibly signing an exclusive deal with another online music retailer.

The move is clearly a game of corporate chicken. Since tracks from Universal account for a third of all music sold in the United States, for the iTunes Store to lose access to such a massive library of music would be disastrous. However, nearly 15 percent of Universal's worldwide revenue in the first quarter of 2007 came from online sources, and with the iTunes Store controlling over 75 percent of the online market, Universal stands to anger a retailer responsible for over 10 percent of its revenue.

Universal undoubtedly hopes to negotiate a more favorable contract with Apple, likely one that gives Universal more control over setting per-track pricing based on popularity or that involves Apple paying Universal a per-iPod royalty, much as Universal strong-armed Microsoft into doing with the Zune (see "Of the Zune, DRM, and Universal Music," 2006-11-13).

I can't see Universal pulling its tracks from the iTunes Store at this point for three reasons. Apple is now the third-largest music retailer behind only Wal-Mart and Best Buy, and the iTunes Store continues to grow. It makes no sense to endanger a relationship with a large retailer that stands to become even more powerful.

The popularity of iTunes stems in large part from the iPod, which has now sold over 100 million units and - bolstered by the release of the music-playing iPhone - shows no signs of losing momentum. Since nearly all other online music retailers employ Windows-based digital rights management that is incompatible with the iPod and the iPhone, no other online retailer stands much of a chance of competing with the iTunes Store in the near-term.

The final reason? Steve Jobs. The iPod, the iTunes Store, and the ethos of a flat-rate pricing scheme are near and dear to his heart, and any significant changes must be accompanied by some sort of gain, as with the EMI deal that resulted in more-expensive iTunes Plus tracks that lack DRM and are encoded at a higher quality (see "Apple and EMI Offer DRM-Free Music via iTunes," 2007-04-02). Jobs simply wouldn't let anything else happen.

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PDFpen 3.2 Adds Editing Marks

  by Adam C. Engst <>

For many of us, editing on paper seems like something that went out with the arrival of the word processor. And it's true - the need to edit on paper has been drastically reduced by the ease of creating and sharing digital documents. But sometimes you don't want an editor or proofreader to be able to change text, even with Microsoft Word's change tracking capabilities, since numerous errant changes would require significant effort to reconcile. Plus, a fair amount of proofing work takes place after a document has already been laid out in InDesign or QuarkXPress, and many publishers don't want proofreaders working in a master copy of the document.

The modern solution to non-destructive editing is PDF - you can send a low-resolution PDF of a book to a proofreader, who can then use Adobe Acrobat to indicate changes. However, Adobe chose to provide a limited set of editing tools that are relatively easy to use, but entirely non-specific. You can add sticky notes; indicate text to be inserted, deleted, or replaced; highlight text; draw on the page; insert callouts; and a bit more. But what those tools replace is the collection of standard proofreading and editing marks used, at least historically, by professional editors and proofreaders used to working on paper. The marks may seem arcane at first glance, but they're essentially a quick and concise instruction set that's efficient to enter and interpret.

Now there's an alternative method of editing in PDF for professionals or those who would prefer a more-structured approach. SmileOnMyMac has released version 3.2 of their PDFpen and PDFpen Pro PDF manipulation programs with a new Library panel that provides resizable graphics of standardized proofreading marks, making it easy for editors to mark up a PDF. Usage involves merely dragging a mark out of the Library panel to the document and positioning it; some may require resizing to make the edit completely clear. Tooltips provide explanations of what each symbol means, if you're unclear on some of them. The update also improves PDFpen's capability to save markup to scanned documents and fixes some minor bugs. It's free to registered users; new copies cost $50 for PDFpen or $95 for PDFpen Pro (which can create cross-platform fillable forms).

[View image]

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Final Cut Studio 2 Applications, SuperDrive Firmware Updated

  by Jeff Carlson <>

Apple has released updates for the Final Cut Studio 2 suite of video production applications via Software Update and as stand-alone installers; the latter require that you sign in using your Apple ID and your Final Cut Studio 2 serial number. Most of the updates cover bug fixes and improve stability, but a few items are notable. Pro Applications Update 2007-01 (an 8.1 MB download) patches the underlying frameworks and shared components of Final Cut Studio 2 (the package also seems to be specific to those applications).

Final Cut Pro 6.0.1 (a 37.5 MB download) adds support for importing AVCHD (Advanced Video Codec High Definition) footage, a video format introduced last year that is designed to be saved to random-access storage devices such as hard disks, solid-state memory, and MiniDVD discs (versus MiniDV tapes, the media of choice for many consumer camcorders as well as cameras that record to the high-definition HDV format). Although a few AVCHD camcorders are currently available, editing the footage has been limited under Windows and nonexistent on the Mac. Apple's release notes indicate a few caveats with AVCHD footage, namely that as it's imported, the video is transcoded into either Apple ProRes 422 or Apple Intermediate Codec; that could require up to 10 times the size of the native AVCHD file of available hard disk space. (The inclusion of AVCHD also potentially means the format could be supported in the next version of iMovie HD.)

Motion 3.0.1 (a 19.4 MB download) fixes a number of known issues with 32-bit float projects and rendering of intersecting 3D groups, and improves performance. Soundtrack Pro 2.0.1 (a 74.5 MB download) improves stability and performance and updates the Delay Designer surround effect plug-in. Compressor 3.0.1 (a 93.3 MB download) adds the capability to export music in the 256 Kbps AAC format used by iTunes Plus, can now set poster frames, and applies other fixes. Color 1.0.1 (an 8.3 MB download) improves stability, metadata support from Final Cut Pro, and single-display mode, as well as floating-point processing on Macs with Nvidia graphics cards.

Lastly, unrelated to Final Cut Studio 2, Apple released SuperDrive Firmware Update 2.1 (a 12 MB download), which provides unspecified fixes but notes improved readability of certain CD media. The installer puts an application called SuperDrive Update 2.1 into your Utilities folder that must be run separately, which is unusual. Note that the application starts the update process at launch, which is bad form; it should behave like most updaters, where the user initiates the process (for example, to make sure the drive isn't in use, I would imagine). The updater also requires a restart of the Mac to take effect.

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DealBITS Discount: 4 GB iPod nano from Small Dog

  by Adam C. Engst <>

Congratulations to Barbara LHeureux of, whose entry was chosen randomly in last week's DealBITS drawing and who received a blue 4 GB iPod nano (refurbished) along with a Mophie case, worth a total of $136.99. For those who didn't win, Small Dog is offering an identical blue 4 GB iPod nano (refurbished) with Mophie case through 11-Jul-07 for the discounted price of $119.99. Remember that the only way Small Dog can continue to give away cool prizes and offer discounts is if enough TidBITS readers use Small Dog for their Mac-related purchases. Be sure to mention TidBITS when you check out so they know that their sponsorship of TidBITS is useful. Thanks to the 1,841 people who entered this DealBITS drawing, and we hope you'll continue to participate in the future!

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iTunes 7.3 Adds iPhone, Apple TV Features

  by Jeff Carlson <>

Apple has released iTunes 7.3, which enables support for the iPhone. iTunes acts as the hub between the computer and the iPhone (much as it does with the iPod), handling synchronization of contacts, calendars, music, and movies. iTunes is also the interface for activating the iPhone's phone and data service plans; a video at Apple's site demonstrates the activation process. iTunes 7.3 is available via Software Update or as stand-alone downloads for Mac (a 33.8 MB download) and Windows (a 47.4 MB download). Note that iTunes 7.3 updates your iTunes library, so it's a good idea to have a current backup before you apply the update.

iTunes 7.3 also adds a requested feature to the Apple TV: photo streaming. Previously, photos could only be synchronized (copied to) the Apple TV.

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iPhone Voice, Data Plans Reasonably Priced, but Missing Wi-Fi

  by Glenn Fleishman <>

A few days before the iPhone went on sale, Apple and AT&T announced service plans, with offerings for individual accounts costing $60, $80, and $100 per month for 450, 900, and 1,350 peak voice minutes; unlimited cellular data; and 200 SMS text messages. These plans also include rollover minutes, allowing unused minutes to be banked for up to 12 months, and unmetered calling within AT&T's cellular network, as well as visual voicemail.

The cheapest plan includes 5,000 night and weekend minutes; the two higher-priced plans have no limit on night and weekend calling. (5000 minutes is over 83 hours, so only teenagers and insomniacs calling each other at 2:00 AM will exceed that number.)

Family plans for two or more lines cost $80, $100, and $120 for 700, 1,400, and 2,100 peak minutes, while the second and subsequent iPhones cost $30 per month each. AT&T charges $10 per month for regular phones in their family plans, a fact that's not generally noted in iPhone coverage. Family plans all include the same features as the two higher-priced single-line services.

Higher numbers of minutes (2,000, 4,000 and 6,000 for individuals, and 3,000, 4,000, and 5,000 for family plans) are also available.

Existing AT&T customers can add iPhone service for $20 per month for the same package of SMS messages and unlimited data; 1,500 SMS messages will run $30 additional per month, while unlimited text messages adds $40 per month.

SMS messages may be of great interest for iPhone users, as Apple - at least initially - has included no iChat or other instant messaging support. SMS would be the likely replacement, and text message counts climb quickly when used for even short back-and-forth conversations.

Unlike other cellular phones, the iPhone doesn't need to be activated at an Apple Store or AT&T Store. Instead, you walk out with a box, and then use iTunes to enable the phone using Mac OS X 10.4.10, Windows XP SP2 (Home or Professional), or Vista (all but Basic). Existing AT&T customers can transfer current phone numbers to the iPhone. Portability of other carriers' numbers is possible (it's a federal requirement), but specifics of doing so are not available online. That may require a return visit to an AT&T Store. Gizmodo asked AT&T that question and got no reply.

These prices are in parity with similar offerings from AT&T for other slow cell data handsets that use the EDGE standard, and with T-Mobile, which provides unlimited EDGE for $20 a month on top of voice plans. (AT&T and T-Mobile are the two U.S. carriers that employ the worldwide GSM standard, which includes EDGE for data in the United States, and UMTS and HSDPA for faster data elsewhere in the world.)

What's interesting, and so far unclear, is whether AT&T plans to leverage its own Wi-Fi hot spot network of 10,000 locations between its own contracted venues and roaming partners. This network costs either nothing or $2 per month for AT&T's DSL customers; higher-speed subscribers get the service for free starting today.

Because the iPhone has a real browser built in, it should be possible for the phone's users to connect to a Wi-Fi hot spot network and view the gateway page from which they can agree to terms of usage (for free networks that require this), pay for service, or log into an existing account.

But that's a far cry from seamless roaming from EDGE to Wi-Fi. That will obviously work for open, free networks and for home and office networks that can be pre-configured. I was expecting (and still expect) more from AT&T on this front. Why build a huge national network and not use it for a flagship product?

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Staff Roundtable: Who's Buying an iPhone?

  by TidBITS Staff <>

As nearly everyone within range of the Reality Distortion Field now knows, Apple on Friday released the iPhone, selling untold numbers - one analyst estimates 500,000, while another is claiming 700,000 - in the first few days, including one to our very own Glenn Fleishman. There's no question that the iPhone is unparalleled as an object of techno-lust, but does that mean you should buy one right away? We'll be writing more on that topic as Glenn explores the features and limitations of his iPhone, but for now, in the interests of full disclosure, we wanted to share with you our own iPhone purchasing plans, or lack thereof.

[Glenn Fleishman] When my previous cell phone heard about the iPhone - it was in the keynote hall with me when Steve Jobs announced the iPhone - something deep inside gave up the ghost. It has been flaky ever since, crashing, turning itself off, putting a call on hold when answered. It knew its days were numbered.

Even before the iPhone announcement, I was in the market for a better communicator, and was giving a Windows Mobile smartphone serious consideration, perish the thought. So the iPhone, even with its hefty price tag, seemed like the right migration path for me.

As the release got closer, and more of the limitations appeared, I grew more reluctant. I know that a 3G iPhone is no more than six to nine months away: AT&T will have its high-speed network much more fleshed out by then, and newer 3G chips will give Apple the size and battery life they want. I also knew that, no matter how good the initial iPhone was, there would still be some first-generation wonkiness to work out.

But I'm a reporter, darn it, and it's hard to write about the biggest news since sliced bread if you're working from second-hand information or a loaner phone from Apple. Apple's review program was very small for the iPhone, with only four reviewers given iPhones in advance of the launch, and a larger number provided with phones on the Friday night of the launch. (The larger number did not include me, Jeff, nor other writers at The Seattle Times, for which we write a regular Mac column.)

So I bought one (see "My First Days with the iPhone" in this issue). I don't regret it. It's clearly the best handheld organizer I've ever owned or used, and it's the best cell phone - despite its limitations - that I've ever owned.

[Jeff Carlson] I'll admit, I really want an iPhone. I'm the target audience: a Mac-focused, highly mobile geek. And yet, I wasn't out there on the first day, and probably won't be seriously considering an iPhone for a while. Mostly this is due to price: Although I don't believe it's overpriced for what it is, $500 is too much for me to part with right now (it goes against the desire to pay down my one remaining credit card). I would also need to pay $20 more per month to use AT&T's iPhone plan. I could swing it, but it's not an added expense that I _need_ right now, no matter how attractive the iPhone is. My current phone is a Treo 650, which offers many of the same features as the iPhone (though not nearly as well), and I don't use its Internet service. Like Glenn, I'm convinced that my Treo knows the iPhone is now available, because it flakes out on me more often than it used to (for example, putting one call on hold to answer another makes it impossible for me to get back to the original caller).

And, quite simply, Palm is now Old News. They've had a few years to make the Treo a breakthrough, but instead kept with the status quo. Although the company has now restructured itself, recent comments from CEO Ed Colligan don't inspire confidence. During a conference call with investors, he expressed hope that iPhone users might be returning their new devices within 30 days. (And no, I don't see the Palm Foleo gaining any traction at all). The release of the iPhone should put aggressive innovation at the top of Palm's to-do list, or else they'll need to sell Treos at a huge discount to compete.

The iPhone definitely has a gravitational pull on me. People are responding to the iPhone not because of its features, but because Apple seems to have done it right - they looked at what people hate about the other phones out there and started from scratch. If I were to buy one tomorrow, it would be because the iPhone has been designed from top to bottom with Apple's focus on making something excellent as opposed to leveraging third-rate components and fourth-rate software that would maximize some profit ratio. I know Apple looks as hard at the bottom line as any company, but with the iPhone I get the sense that they've designed the product for me, not them. And that's a huge difference.

[Adam Engst] As much as I'm sure I lose geek cred for saying this, I can't see myself or Tonya buying an iPhone any time soon. The problems are threefold: price, location, and lifestyle. Put bluntly, $500 or $600 plus $60 per month is way more than we'd be comfortable spending on such a device, given that we already have $30 cell phones from Virgin Mobile that cost us about $60 per year in pay-as-you-go airtime, along with a variety of iPods that more than meet our mobile music and podcast needs.

The cost becomes especially steep here in upstate New York, where cell service is fairly spotty. I'm sure the iPhone would get fine reception in downtown Ithaca and at Cornell, but all bets are off once you go more than a few miles out of town. Poor reception promotes a feedback cycle - if you can't rely on having access wherever you are, you stop thinking about using the cell phone unless it's absolutely necessary.

And lastly, we simply don't have the sort of lifestyle for which an iPhone makes sense. We work in home offices, so we have no commute, and we seldom leave home for work-related events or meetings. When we're at home, we have perfectly functional landlines, multiple high-speed Internet connections, laptop Macs, and large quantities of screen real estate. If we lived in a metropolitan area with long commutes and a fully mobile lifestyle, the iPhone would be significantly more compelling. To listen to me play devil's advocate, check out this MacNotables podcast.

All that said, I still want one, and if one arrived on my doorstep, I can guarantee that I'd figure out some way to work it into my lifestyle, even if most of the usage was via Wi-Fi in the house.

[Matt Neuburg] Matt Neuburg thinks the iPhone is stupid. He also thought iPods were stupid. Before that he thought Mac OS X was stupid, and previous to that he thought those colorful original iMacs were stupid. He also thought the World Wide Web was stupid; we've got email and FTP, what do we need a bunch of hyperlinks and pictures for? In short, Matt Neuburg has never been right about anything, and suggests that everyone should probably do the opposite of what he thinks and get an iPhone immediately. Also Matt Neuburg thinks that people who speak of themselves in the third person are delusional.

[Mark Anbinder] One of the oft-reported glitches that affected iPhone purchasers this weekend is related to one key reason I probably won't have an iPhone for a while. My employer, Cornell University, has been trying to get iPhones for a few IT staff members, me included - but no one at AT&T can figure out how to do this.

The fact that the iPhone is officially only for individual consumers, and not for corporate accounts, was a stumbling block this weekend when iPhone purchasers tried to transfer existing phone numbers that were previously on AT&T corporate accounts. AT&T's automated system couldn't transfer a number from a corporate account to an individual account, and AT&T customer service reps could only do so with permission from that corporate account's contact person - who was probably not available after 6:00 PM on Friday.

Believe it or not, while I was definitely impressed with what I saw of the iPhone presented at WWDC, I didn't feel an overwhelming urge to buy an iPhone right away. (If I'd wanted to, I could have gotten one easily on Friday at our local AT&T Store; the line didn't get long until mid-afternoon.) But if I want to let Cornell buy one for me, they have to figure out how to do it first, and that's proving to be a challenge.

Apple has insisted that AT&T offer the iPhone only as a consumer product for now, so not only is it not eligible for corporate discount plans, there's simply no way to put it on a corporate account. Corporate purchasers could use a company credit card, but the activation process still starts with a credit check that requires an individual's social security number. One of my colleagues has expressed some concern that signing up with his own social security number puts him personally on the hook for the two-year commitment, even if he's signing up for work.

I actually got to touch someone's iPhone (still in its shrink-wrapped box) on Friday evening, as they left the AT&T Store, so even if I haven't had a chance to play with one yet, I think I can keep my gizmo envy at bay for a bit. I'll wait until the bean-counters can figure out how to do corporate purchases, even if it requires some fiscal sleight-of-hand.

[Joe Kissell] I'm in the market for a new cell phone, and the iPhone looks like it would meet my needs nicely. The one teensy catch is that I've just this week moved to Paris, France, and paying AT&T roaming charges for all my calls for the next two years doesn't seem cost-effective. So I'll have to wait until the European release later this year, and if the rate plans and contract terms are reasonable, I'll more than likely pick up one then.

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My First Days with the iPhone

  by Glenn Fleishman <>

While stopped at a traffic light north of Seattle yesterday, the driver in the car to the right of us gestures through the window. Did we leave our gas tank door open when we left the station a moment ago? No. "Hey," he says to my wife Lynn after she and he have rolled down their respective windows, "Is that an iPhone?"

The day before - the day after the iPhone went on sale - walking through a festival at a nearby community park and museum, I pull out my iPhone to take a picture of my son Ben standing next to an historic bell. An older Japanese woman says to me, "4 gigabytes or 8 gigabytes?"

Those two experiences sum up the intense interest that Apple managed to generate around the iPhone through a combination of indifference, secrecy, and strategic information release.

I bought an iPhone Friday night, and the experience was both fun and instructive. After two days of use, I'm very pleased with the combination phone, iPod, and Internet device. It has proven invaluable in a couple of cases, and it has already failed me, too.

Astute readers may know that last week I wrote a column for The New York Post in which I presented the reasons why people who didn't fit into the early adopter or business traveler categories should wait to buy the next-generation model. My suggestions from that article still stand: there's good reason to wait until the next release, but likely less reason to wait beyond that one. (The article was labeled by Post editors as a "first review" and the version that appeared implied that I had recent experience with an iPhone. However, I hadn't touched one since January; see "iTouched an iPhone," 2007-01-15. For my account of writing the Post article, see my blog entry "Glenn Stabbed in Nude iPhone Review!")

The Worst Part Was (Not) the Waiting -- Purchasing a new iPhone wasn't the ordeal I expected. While the line was long at the University Village Apple Store, it moved quickly and there were plenty - and I mean plenty - of iPhones left in view by the time I reached the door.

I had arrived after 5:00 PM to check out the scene, and take a bunch of photographs. This particular Apple Store, the first of Apple's stores to open in the Northwest, had a line with at least 300 people waiting. Only a few had been there more than a day, and many just a few hours. A nearby AT&T Store had a line of perhaps 60 people. (TidBITS Contributing Editor Mark Anbinder and various TidBITS readers also contributed photos to the Flickr pool.)

I waited near the entrance until 6:00 PM to watch the Apple Store open, and dozens of people were allowed in initially. I left to get into the shorter AT&T Store line, figuring that I'd do better there. After 20 minutes of waiting, however, only a few people had left with iPhones.

Another person in line popped up front and discovered that AT&T was forcing everyone to buy accessories. This was confirmed by Brier Dudley, a reporter for The Seattle Times, who bought his model at a different AT&T Store, as well as by reports from across the country. It wasn't a corporate-directed mandate, because apparently signs were hand-lettered, and the deal was different everywhere. Most stores didn't seem to have this requirement.

Customers at AT&T Stores that did were told that they had to buy an accessory package, comprising a car charger and some other item, typically running $50 or more, and that they could return items for a full refund either the next day or within 14 days.

This was a punk move by AT&T, and I imagine it will involve CEO-to-CEO conversations between AT&T head Randall Stephenson and Steve Jobs. These were all company-owned stores, so there's no one to blame but upper or middle management. I expect that the firm just engaged in commonplace upsell tactics with an exclusive phone. But they lost a lot of individual good will, and the stories that spread will keep people out of AT&T Stores in the future to avoid that kind of nonsense.

I left the AT&T Store line, and returned to the Apple Store, where half the line had already been served by 6:30 PM. I was in the store within 20 minutes and out of the store 2 minutes later. Anyone arriving at 7:00 PM would have waited no more than five minutes. There was clearly a large supply on display, and store employees brought out large bins of iPhones from the back.

The sleazy tactics at the AT&T Store near me weren't universal, thank goodness. TidBITS friend and Take Control editor Karen Anderson spent a chunk of Friday waiting at another nearby mall at an AT&T Store, and had a quick and pleasant experience in purchasing her iPhone. (Karen is a former Apple employee.)

While waiting, I and a few people around me discussed the arbitrage of the iPhone availability. When we were far from the store, we all thought we'd buy two, and immediately sell one for a higher price on Craigslist. As we got closer, we realized that initial demand might not outstrip supply. In the end, we all bought only one each.

One bit of wisdom acquired in the Apple Store is that while the iPhone is covered by Apple's warranty today - AT&T doesn't offer its usual terrible cell phone damage/loss insurance - Apple will be offering some AppleCare deal in July. Two store employees described this separately; I haven't been able to find details on either company's site yet.

iPhone availability apparently is fluctuating, with AT&T Stores reporting mostly being out of iPhones on Saturday, but Apple Stores receiving what sounds like a regular wave of shipments. Apple created an iPhone retail store availability page that indicates whether iPhones are available at area retail stores.

Pleasant, Like a Cool Bath on a Sultry Day -- Activating the iPhone was as simple for me as Apple and AT&T claimed it would be. It was a few steps and a few minutes to upgrade my existing AT&T cell phone account, transfer my phone number, and be up and running.

Two Macworld editors had worse luck: one had a problem with a business account that had been converted to a personal account last week in preparation, while the other got a dud iPhone. Both had their situations resolved within a day or so. Reports indicate that many people had hang ups (figurative and literal) in getting their iPhones activated. It's hard to know what percentage of all activations were so affected, however.

My reaction so far is that the iPhone is the most remarkable cell phone I've ever used, and that Apple made a lot of good design decisions. It works more or less as advertised, and nothing is actually broken in my testing. Missing features or a lack of certain controls doesn't equate to broken, and it leaves room for improvement in small ways that will make a big difference in future software or hardware versions.

It's wonderful to pull the iPhone out of my pocket, hit the unlock button and slide my finger, and then have access to a pile of my personal information, the Web, email, a camera, and a phone. Within a day, I found myself reflexively pulling it out or grabbing it even when a laptop was nearby.

My wife and I were at a park, and we couldn't remember the name of some actor, and I said, hey, I could look it up! We both laughed, but if we were about 10 percent more geeky, I would have done it.

The resolution, brightness, and clarity are just extraordinary. It's not just that rendered and photographic images snap, but that even the smallest type is still somewhat legible. When I saw early shots of the iPhone, I assumed that rendered text had been inserted into screen displays. In fact, even when I'm looking at the iPhone screen, I have the sense that I'm seeing something not quite real, because of the quality of the anti-aliased type. That brightness makes it work well even in bright outdoor light.

I hate to say it, but a 10-inch handheld version of this thing would be an incredibly useful item for many homes, even though I've never before thought stripped-down computers without keyboards were useful. Add Apple TV features for local network streaming with 802.11n, and I could see a future for such a device in a way the ultra-mobile PCs, tablet PCs, and other similar devices never had.

Some Shortfalls -- The most talked-about feature of the iPhone was the decision to not include a physical keyboard, offering a "glass" one for greater flexibility. What was less clear at that time is that the onscreen keyboard shows just letters in a typewriter arrangement; numbers and punctuation marks are reached by tapping another button. (This is oddly similar to how Baudot code, one of the earliest data encoding schemes, used an average of five-and-a-half bits to carry text.)

After two days, I'm still finding it awkward and frustrating to use the keyboard. I've been a touch typist for 27 years, since I was 11, and can learn most keyboard layouts in minutes. I type well over 100 words per minute on a QWERTY keyboard. And I may be too old to convert well to the iPhone. I'll report as my brain retrains.

The auto-correction and auto-prediction does work reasonably well; I'm not sure if it has heuristics to learn what I normally type or not, but it seems to know my name already.

The keyboard method comes into play most irritatingly, however, when entering passwords. Passwords are almost universally case-sensitive, meaning "TidBITS" is different than "tidbits" which is different than "TiDbItS". When entering a password on a Web site or in settings fields throughout the system, the iPhone keyboard hides characters after you type each one. But the keyboard shows only uppercase letters as you type regardless of whether Shift or Caps Lock is engaged. This approach causes cognitive dissonance when you type an "e", the keyboard shows an "E", and then the letter appears as a bullet in the password field.

The Safari browser works quite well, producing stunningly rendered pages that can be zoomed in and out with a finger gesture or set of taps. Double tapping any part of a Web page zooms to the width of that particular CSS or table column - a neat trick. But even when you rotate the iPhone into landscape orientation, it can still be difficult to achieve the right combination of magnification to read lengthy text.

I hope Apple considers adding accessibility features that typically abled people might use, too, such as a tap command that would extract the text in the current column to display in larger type or without much formatting, while still allowing a toggle back to the normal view.

On the communications side, the most frustrating part of the iPhone is the reliance on the old and slow EDGE network for data access outside of Wi-Fi networks; the related part is AT&T's failure to offer a Wi-Fi hotspot subscription plan to ease that task. (I have a rundown on Wi-Fi options for the iPhone at Macworld.)

Every time I switched to the EDGE network when roaming around the last couple of days, I groaned. The network was sometimes not available - a tiny E next to the AT&T network text would disappear - or speeds were only slightly faster than a dial-up modem. I did occasionally see something like the average 100 to 200 Kbps that AT&T has said its subscribers should expect.

An entirely new iPhone model will be needed when AT&T completes its third-generation (3G) cell data network. That network will be done this year, and the chips Jobs said he needed will certainly be available by year's end, too. That could put a 3G iPhone in the January Macworld Expo announcement time frame.

Changes to all the software, of course, are much simpler, and can be rolled out at will by Apple and AT&T as they continue development. I expect there's a laundry list of features that didn't make the cut for launch, and I predict that before the end of July, a minor update will add a lot of bits and pieces. For instance, when using Google Maps, you can't point to a location and make that a bookmark - a rather insane missing feature for a map application.

But it's also worth noting, as Salon's Fahrad Manjoo pointed out, that we're completely reliant on Apple and AT&T here - they must have the same priorities as us to change and enhance the phone's software. He wrote that he knew that his critique of missing software features would result in fanboy email claiming the software was malleable and updatable. Sure, he said, but "that I have to depend on Apple - rather than on a wide world of software developers - to fix what's wrong doesn't entirely comfort me."

And that's exactly it. We at TidBITS are fervent supporters of application developers; the Mac is what it is because of the dedication for personal joy or financial gain or both that programmers and software firms have brought to the platform. And that has to come to the iPhone, too. After Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, Jobs has made more broadly worded statements that third-party development will be possible, and some kind of certification program will be in place. Let's hope we see it sooner rather than later.

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