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Articles: techwatch: 2012 September

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Apple Watch: The iPhone 5
Saturday, 2012 September 22 - 11:28 am
So no, I don't have the iPhone 5. But news and reviews have been flooding in.

By all accounts, it's another marvel of engineering. It's taller but thinner and lighter; the screen looks amazing; the camera is best-in-class. It's significantly faster than the 4S. It includes 4G LTE without sacrificing battery life.

Of course there have been the usual array of complaints that Apple has not introduced any radical new features. Prior to its introduction we saw plenty of guesses about gimmicky features, like a laser-based virtual keyboard. Uh, no. What we should know about Apple by now is that they usually don't try to make radical changes within an existing product category; their innovation comes when they introduce new product categories. For existing products, Apple's process is to refine them and make them simply the best in their category.

The most noticeable omission is NFC, which was much-rumored. But I think Apple is concerned that it's a technology looking for an application; there simply isn't a widespread retail ecosystem for NFC, and there are other ways to accomplish point-of-sale solutions. I'm not saying the idea is dead; I just think Apple has other priorities.

Sales have been brisk, to say the least. Estimates are that three days of pre-orders have surpassed the monthly sales record for the 4S.

Now, there are emerging reports that the anodized aluminum finish on the black model is scuff-prone, with some people complaining that it is scuffed right out of the box. I find it strange Apple would have allowed that kind of thing to escape their design and testing processes... let's hope Apple has an answer for that soon.

Finally, a note about the new Maps app, which is an iOS 6 thing, not just an iPhone 5 thing. There's lots of criticism that it's inferior to the Google-based app it replaces, and those criticisms are well-founded. But Apple has no interest in continuing to feed precious customer location data to its biggest rival, and I think they're willing to suffer through the early criticism to get the business decision done. And to be sure, the problems with Maps are fixable; in fact, to some degree, you have to get Maps out to the public just to find where all the problems are. It's doubtful that Apple is devoting hundreds of engineers to pore over every inch of map data in the entire world.
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