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IPhone video demo: UI is the secret of its success

Tap, 'pinch' and drag; that's all you need to do

July 3, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - In the first two and a half days that its new iPhone was on the market, Apple Inc. sold about half a million of the popular devices. And while the iPhone can be put to a variety of different uses -- making a call, checking e-mail, surfing the Web, listening to music or even scrolling through photos -- the biggest feature is the user interface. That's what really sets it apart from competitors, and that's what we focused on in our video demonstration.

For those who slept through the last six months and missed all of the prelaunch hype and buzz, the iPhone went on sale at 6 p.m. Friday and comes in two different models. The 4GB model sells for $499; the 8GB model retails for $100 more. (A survey of buyers at three Apple stores indicates the more expensive model is by far the most popular.) The only difference between the two is the amount of storage space.

Would-be buyers should also note that there's just one mobile carrier for the iPhone: AT&T Inc., which offers three service plans for it priced at $59.99, $79.99 and $99.99. The main difference between plans is how many calling minutes you get. All of the plans offer unlimited data transfers, visual voice mail, 200 text messages and rollover minutes.

User reviews since the iPhone's launch have been largely positive.

First and foremost, the iPhone is a phone, and it delivers the goods. Making a call is easy: Tap the green phone icon once, and you'll see a screen that either has the keypad ready for you to tap in a number, or your contact list -- imported from your computer through iTunes. Tap a name in the contact list, tap the phone number associated with that contact, and the call goes out.

The e-mail function works just as well, with a fluid interface that takes you from the mail icon (again, one tap will do), to your in-box. Tap a message in the list that shows up, and the e-mail is displayed on the screen. Hit the reply arrow, click the Reply button that pops up on screen, and a virtual keyboard springs up at the bottom of the screen. As you type, the keys enlarge, making it easier to see whether you tapped the correct one. An extremely useful feature, given the small size of the "keys," is the predictive texting that tries to figure out the right word when you make a typo. More often than not, it works exactly as it should, allowing you to type faster than you'd expect with just one or two fingers.

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