By Hiawatha Bray, Globe Staff | June 30, 2007
After the relentless buildup of the past six months, the temptation to
trash Apple Inc.'s new iPhone is pretty much irresistible.
If only I could.
It wouldn't be fair; Apple and partner AT&T Inc. handed me a demo unit
one hour before the iPhone went on sale. That's not nearly enough for
a proper review, but plenty of time to deliver a jolt of wonder and
delight. No doubt this is what the marketing masters at Apple had in
mind, and, it has worked.
The iPhone is exactly as cool as you've heard, and then some. For it's
not just cool; this phone is important, in the same way that Apple's
first Macintosh computer was important. The Mac showed us a better way
to interact with computers, and forced the entire industry to follow
its lead. Here we go again.
The thing has just three buttons. One puts it to sleep; one controls
the volume of its better-than-you'd-expect speakers.
The third ignites the iPhone's main menu, an array of elegantly
self-explanatory buttons that glow against a deep black backdrop.
From here on out, you control everything by touching those buttons,
or the other buttons and windows that leap onto the screen.
Everybody knows about the touch screen. But you don't know how well it
works. There's no tactile feedback, no click of a button hitting
bottom. You hardly care, so cleverly has Apple dreamed up smart visual
substitutes. Consider the QWERTY keyboard that appears when you need
to type an e-mail address. Press a key, and a large tab appears over
your finger, displaying the letter you're about to press. At a glance
you see whether you're about to make an error.