We only have to wait one more day but it is clear the iPhone and the Touch are going to change tomorrow. The changes are subtle but they really are huge.
1) The GPS Chip is going mega low wattage and higher sensitivity. This means the accuracy will be down below nine feet and running it constantly will not kill the battery. The huge advantage these things have over normal GPS is wireless and internet access. One of the ways to make the GPS is more accurate is to download tables which contain all the recent error correction anomalies. Normal GPs gets this data from a geosynch satellite parked on the equator. But that means someone in New England needs a clear shot of the southern sky just 23 degrees from the horizon. We have trees here. Not sure they do it now but it should be easy to grabbed this data off the internet.
2) The CPU ARM chip is going to be twice as fast as what is out there now. Pretty fast now but it allows developers to really lay in the calculations and video without suffering lag.
3) Apple as of tomorrow with the new software is going to allow an application to buy more accessories. This is huge. Everything I have read about it misses the point. They think a kid buying an extra map for a game for 99 cents is big. I say big deal. But what about a real map? You are doing turn by turn GPS and now you want more. You want up-to-date reviews of restaurants within ten miles and directions. 99 cents. Sure, I'll buy it. I want the topo quadrant of just the area I am hiking in. 99 cents. Sure, I'll buy it.
Most maps and GPS features are really expensive. If I want a street map of Paris I have to purchase all of Europe for $349. I cannot pull the trigger on that. I would never use all of the rest and besides I don't want this huge map clogging up my phone. But two square miles from the Eiffel tower to Notre Dame is all I want. I would buy that for 5 bucks.
The Washington Mall with all exhibits on display that week and the times to go see them. I would pay a buck extra.
4) The addition of this buying within an application seals the death of palm pre android and all other late comers. Capitalistic competition works only if it is a level playing field. This makes it very unleveled. Developers are not going to spend time writing code for all those other devices if they can clean up and make money on Job's creation. Sort of like Windows in 1997 and Apple was the one with the nose on the glass looking in sadly.
And last but not least 5) the compass. I already ranted about this. But this is big. It will take time for developers to figure out why a device that has a GPS, an accelerometer, a compass, and a crystal clear screen on a fast CPU is way more cool that one without a compass but they will learn quickly.
It's like sailing boats before they could take a clock with them. Doesn't seem like a big deal but a clock means longitude and longitude which meant Britain ruled the waves for quite a while. Sorta like Apple right now.
I could give a long winded description of why you need a clock onboard your ship to find your longitude but Dava Sobel does a much better job in a short book called "Longitude".
Short Story: Anyone with a way to measure an angle can easily find the latitude you are on. Just measure the height of the north star above the horizon gives your latitude directly. To get across the Atlantic one would stay on a latitude and just keep heading west running on the "rhumb line". (My first date of my wife was at the Rhumb Line Restaurant in Gloucester.)
To figure out the longitude, or how far east or west you need to know the exact time of a certain spot on earth. The English put up a several million dollar reward to solve the problem. Astronomers were figuring it out with the moon's position but it turns out a clockmaker who made a clock that could keep accurate time of Greenwich England even while out at sea could then site the sun and figure out precise longitude.
When you see a sailor in a movie sighting a sexton and yelling "mark", someone else is noting the exact time to the second. The difference in the sun height from how high it is in Greenwich is easily converted to longitude.
But read the book. One of my favorites and not because it is on one of my favorite subjects.
And this sort of segues into one of my other favorite books about Shackelton's crew surving in Antartica. His sidekick used a sexton in an open rowboat to hit an island which a few degrees would have been missed. What this guy did before and after makes him one bad åss mf. A Nova special on Shackelton
GPS gives precise time and precise position on earth along with elevation. Accelerometer tells the phone if the thing suddenly moves. So virtually every position in 3D can be figured out. Except which direction the phone is pointing at rest. That is what the compass does.
For 3D games this can add an aspect of reality which could be mind boggling. But reality would be much more fun.
Example 1) You are standing in front of the Washington Monument. Scratch that, you are standing in front of a monument of a dude on a horse. You don't know who he is. Standing in front of it you point your phone at it and the wikipedia page for the statue pops on your screen because the phone knows exactly what you are pointing at.
Example 2) Standing in front of a house you point at it and you get google Street view. You identify the house and zillow will tell you how much it was purchased for and when.
Example 3) GPs augmented with compass makes for a much more accurate ride through tunnels and canyons whether they are in Colorado or Fifth Avenue. The satellites are blocked but as long as the phone know which direction you are going it can fill in much better.
Example 4) Assisted GPS uses GPS, the internet for info and also cell tower ranging. With the compass added all of this combined might give much better accuracy when you enter a building and lose satellites. It could do a good guess at least of where you are.
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