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January 9, 2007

Macworld: Touch of the iPhone

Posted by Mark Watanabe at 4:02 PM

Our Practical Mac columnist, Glenn Fleishman, is in San Francisco at Macworld and got a chance to see, and feel, the iPhone. Here's his dispatch:

SAN FRANCISCO -- I wasn't sure what to expect when Apple's Greg Joswiak slid an iPhone over the table for me to experiment with. "Just slide your finger to unlock it," he said, and when I did, there was a brief bit of the "down the rabbit hole" aspect in "The Matrix."

Using the iPhone feels quite a bit like using a device from the future.

The touch-based navigation and selection coupled with gestures -- pinching, sliding, and so forth -- is remarkably intuitive. Within a few seconds, I could navigate the entire interface. Pinching, used to zoom in on a map or photograph, took a few tries to get right, but the interface rewards experimentation, as nothing goes wrong when the gesture isn't perfect.

The front of the iPhone quickly becomes smeared with fingerprints, but it also quite easily wipes off. I'd be highly concerned with scratching, and I imagine that third parties will sell tough, transparent, thin skins that will allow the touch-sensitive element to work and protect against scratches unless the technology won't allow even a thin layer there.

In the hand, the iPhone has the right heft. It feels a bit iPod-like, a bit cellphone-like. It looks and behaves like no other electronic device I've ever tried, and gave me the same frisson I had on first using the iPod over five years ago.

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