MacDirectory Magazine

Fall-Winter 2010 (#43)

MacDirectory magazine is the premiere creative lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts featuring interviews, in-depth tech reviews, Apple news, insights, latest Apple patents, apps, market analysis, entertainment and more.

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52 MacDirectory FEATURE IPHONE 3GS > ANOTHER SIGNIFICANT SUCCESS STORY It's almost as if Apple was taking a cue from the auto industry in its glory days. If you have a solid product but want to signify a step up, just add a letter or two to its name. You don't even need to explain what it stands for. In the case of the iPhone 3GS, there's absolutely no shortage of meanings for the appended consonant. Speedy This, of course, is the easiest to relate to and the most noticeable once the device boots up. Compared to the 3G, the 3GS is substantially faster on just about every front. Based on a completely different processor and demonstrating the benefits of a (mostly) hardware-independent OS you'll see performance improvements on just about every front. Applications launch nearly twice as fast, 3D graphics render more smoothly and the phone has the performance to support a host of new features. Combined with the snappier browsing provided by the latest version of Safari, the electronics have been reengineered to exploit advances in 3G networking as AT&T continues its upgrade to a 7.2Mbps network. Even if the phone company hasn't boosted the bandwidth in your neck of the woods yet (they expect to complete the transition nationwide sometime in 2010), the faster processor improves reduces latency, the amount of time the device spends sorting out the network signals and rendering the output. Again, the difference here is incremental, but very noticeable. Another change in this category is battery life, which is somewhat improved, rather significant considering the overall performance boost. However, we noticed that applications that make extensive use of 3D rendering or audio signal processing do drain power with considerable zeal. Speech According to the early pundits, voice dialing was certain to be an omission that would virtually guarantee the failure of the iPhone. Apple, it seems, was simply waiting until the device could do it better than anyone else. Thanks to the Google Mobile App, we had a preview of what was in store. Now, with the 3GS hardware, we're getting a look at what Apple really had in mind and some hints on where the technology may be heading. As it stands, Voice Control's vocabulary is limited to phone dialing and iPod access, but you don't need to be a linguist to recognize its potential. First, it's an extraordinary implementation of speech recognition for a portable device, proving itself remarkably accurate at finding names in your contact list by a full name or nickname or simply speaking the numbers. It performs this feat almost instantly. Secondly, Voice Command is non-modal: you don't have to have the phone or iPod applications open to issue instructions. Holding down the Home button (or center button on the headset) for a couple of seconds will tell the phone to start listening for your instructions. This opens up all kinds of possibilities as Voice Command expands, as it inevitably will, to other aspects of the phone. Shooting Sharper The 3GS represents a significant improvement in imaging. Moving from two to three megapixels, the image can hold 50 percent more detail. To help make sure you have those details, the phone now has an extraordinarily cool auto-focus/auto-exposure system. Multi- touch gestures will allow you set the focus and exposure based on a specific area of the screen. In all but the most favorable shooting situations, this will make a huge difference in your results. It wasn't enough to simply add video recording to the phone. It added a rudimentary trimming feature, as well. To do anything more, you'll need to import the movies into iMovie, but Apple didn't make that particularly easy. You still need to email the clips to your Mac. Fortunately, a recent update to Ecamm's PhoneView ($19.95 and well worth it) will pull in your movies (as well as just about anything else on your phone) via the USB cable. Also, if you're still using iMovie '08 or Final Cut Pro, you'll need to remember to keep the phone horizontal with the home button on your right, otherwise the image will be cropped to the middle third. WORDS BY RIC GETTER

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