Updated! The iPhone's slick update lays the groundwork for physical media's demise

Commentary about the new Apple iPhone update and how we listen to music on-the-go

Finally, the iPhone's first major update!

My optimism for this 1.1.1 update was muted as, after a couple of months of waiting, I was excited for the ringtone feature that has ultimately proven lackluster. If my iPhone is in my pocket, I honestly cannot hear the ringtone portions of songs I've picked - even the jarring ones! The only reason I know I'm getting a call is because of the vibrate feature. So, with yesterday's major update, I was cautious. It should follow, however, that the speaker adjustments in the 1.1.1 update may solve the ringtone-being-too-quiet issue. Verdict: eh, not really.

The 1.1.1 update, however, was still welcome. Apart from allowing the homekey to access the iPhone's iPod features, a redesign of the calculator, my favorite feature thus far is the WiFi iTunes store that was already available on the iPod Touch.

Ironically, I downloaded "Wrapped Around Your Finger" by The Police and, after hoping onto a WiFi network. After hearing it, taking note of it on the notebook, I found the song, downloaded it and started playing in about a minute's time. The iTunes WiFi interface in terms of search and purchasing features are slick, clean and fast. Transferring the purchased song to my main desktop was seamless too. A new category of playlist, "songs purchased from the iPhone" (or something close to that) also appeared in my iTunes.

You might think that having access to iTunes on the go is unnecessary - but to me, it's both brilliant and dangerous. Brilliant because if you're like me, you hear music and songs around all the time. For me, I tend to think: oooh, what is that song? I'd like to have it. And now, I can get it, provided that I'm near a WiFi hot spot. (Usually, someone around me will know what song is playing. Not being able to identify the song is an entirely different matter). And, iTunes WiFi is dangerous because I hear a lot of music during a day and I think I'll be buying songs left and right. So, in a surprising turn-around, I guess I'm glad that my purchasing capacity is limited by iTunes WiFi only being accessible via WiFi. (I wonder how quickly the EDGE network would implode if iTunes WiFi could be accessed over AT&T's EDGE Network).

So, this leads to the next question: What about 3G transfers? In the long run, it looks as if the trend appears to be moving a time where storing music on a desktop or iPod may well become pretty obsolete. This is all the more so especially with larger online servers and storage dumps becoming more widely available. Like Google Apps and Documents, one day, it seems more than likely that I'll be able to access all my music along lines like iTunes WiFi. Perhaps a constant streaming, or perhaps I'll access an entire playlist in chunks at a time, thus eliminating the need for an obscenely massive HDD-based iPod/mp3 players. The only limit now seems to be speeds of over-air data networks. Even if you were on a plane, or in a subway, you may be able to beam yourself enough music to carry you to the next WiFi rich area you get to.

While that may be a while away, iTunes WiFi is definitely a starting point.

About the author

    Kevin Ho is an attorney living in San Francisco. He's from Iowa originally where he got his first Atari computer when he was little and remembers using the Apple IIGS. He is PC-user but secretly a Mac person in the closet as evidenced by many an iPod cluttering his desk drawers. He'll be writing about his experience with the iPhone. Disclosure.

     

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