If you subscribe to the Wall Street Journal, either hard copy or online, today's edition has Walt Mossberg's review of the new Apple iPhone and OS 3.0.
Apple always provides Walt an advance version of the phone, and his review tends to help set the stage for many things. Of what he didn't like on the new version, two-MMS and Tethering lack of availability in the USA have to be discounted because AT&T is limiting the availability until their network upgrades are farther along. That's no big deal for me. I use a Verizon MiFi card and my iPod Touch and get all the functions, plus better 3G connectivity for apps including those that are VoIP based, like Skype and client Truphone.
Walt's testing though methodology seemed to be as always rigorous. He likely pushed all things aside he had planned to get this review done for today, as Apple pretty much dropped a bomb last week at the World Wide Developer's Conference, surprising many with the earlier than expected availability of OS 3.0. My wonderment though is something he can't test for yet, which is how the newer version of the Apple OS will perform on a real 3G network.
Like Walt and all USA iPhone users, we're all used to the anemic AT&T network, which even the carrier admits is overloaded. Yesterday, using the prior version of the iPhone and it's last version of the OS I was on a train to Barcelona, and was using the Maps application. I never saw the maps application, or any other application run as fast as I did on the Movistar network from Telefonica. It was like watching a scene on CSI Miami or NCIS where they use these surface computing platform and move images and data around. In faster than a blink of an eye, the maps were updating as we rolled through the hillsides of Spain at close to 90 miles an hour or so.
Another key point Walt brings out in his review is Apple's WiFi authentication capability becoming native to remember credentials for as he describes "commercial" hotspots. This has to be viewed as great news for the many carriers and aggregators/operators of hotspot networks, such as the likes of Orange, SFR, Neuf, Kubi, Telefonica, Vodafone, BT, T-Mobile and client Boingo, as it means they can spend more time on technology efforts, designing in application functionality, and put additional emphasis at the network layer, and less time crafting the application's insides related to authorization and authentication. This will enable them all to go beyond the current levels of User Interface design and User Experience and spur all kinds of new experiences for their customers.
On the other hand, for all of the parasite type applications like Devicescape and EasyWiFi (which is from Devicescape) it will unfortunately minimize their value for people who only use one device and one service provider.
What Walt didn't explain here is if Apple is likely taking that same technology and tacitly building it into the Mac or vice versa, if what we're really seeing is the Apple Keychain technology being dramatically expanded to have greater purpose on devices beyond the Mac itself starting with the iPhone, as we have seen with iTunes and Safari. I *SUSPECT* that Apple is further pushing out KeyChain and the WiFi log on capability as well as the lost phone/find the phone/wipe the data/ as just the tip of the iceberg of what we will see in this area of security and authentication on BOTH Mac and iPhone platforms. To me, Apple is continuing to converge the two, with MobileMe being the core transport/sync tool. That functionality, while still in it's infant stages, really is taking aim at RIM's Blackberry Enterprise Server capability, and likely a nuance that unless one uses a Blackberry or thinks like an Director of IT, would be missed.
Those functions mean that where Apple (and their carrier partners) will be going with 3.0 is not so much after the early adoptive consumer, but after the decide later IT Enterprise buyer, which represents a major market segment dominated by HP and RIM in the USA, and which globally really remains up for grabs.
Mossberg's review is worth the read, but I'll really be interested in how and if he reviews this version of the iPhone in four to five months as more of the AT&T network gets built out. Given that other reviews from more advance network countries will start to hit shortly after the new iPhone's hit other shores, I expect Walt's review will be the baseline to compare to, so we know how much we're missing in the USA and how much everyone else has been gifted by Apple.
Update--> The New York Times' David Pogue also has a very good review of the iPhone.