If Skype was allowed to transmit voice calls over a cell data network, for several reasons, it would be unusable. There’s overhead in buffering and accommodating the effects of cellular data service in order to provide reasonable voice quality. Whereas IP packets and browsers don’t care if there is a slight delay, voice has stricter latency requirements and that’s one reason cell phone networks didn’t start out as data networks to begin with! Triangulation, echo cancellation, and multiplexing are systems that IP isn’t built for and even if it was, it would be like powering a computer with a solar panel that’s fed by a light bulb, plugged into the power grid.

If you’d like an example, get a 3g laptop card and open Skype on your laptop, then try and hold a phone call as a passenger traveling in a vehicle at 55mph; you’ll soon be disconnected or be unable to understand the call. Skype and the Internet it runs over has no idea you’re switching from Cell Tower 5 to Cell Tower 14 and to expect parts of the call in a different order from the different towers; even if it did, the towers aren’t aware of skype and the bandwidth overhead for the towers to communicate between Skype’s system and your cell phone would be excessive and negatively impact the network as a whole. ATT isn’t handicapping anybody, it’s just not that simple.

I can understand consumer advocacy but some things just don’t work. If it was really practical to run VoIPoCell then none of us would have Cell phones. Skype’s best effort would be to find a carrier to work with them at a higher level than just the iPhone; if Skype wants you to seamlessly transfer your call between the most efficient network, they’ll need much more than Apple’s cooperation.

I picked up an iPhone yesterday and was rather lucky in doing so.  I learned a bit about the lines as well, which I’m sure has been blogged about enough already but I didn’t find anything with a quick google search. Moreover, my experience at the Apple store at Knox Henderson could be different than those of others or those who have opted to work with ATT.

I called the Apple store yesterday around 1815 and actually assumed they were out of stock. My question was along the lines of “Hi, do you know when you will get more phones and when I should be there to have the best chances of getting a new phone?”. To my surprise her answer was that they had phones in stock and I should arrive ASAP if I wanted one. I then kindly asked my friend, who was driving, to haul ass to the Apple store.

When I arrived there was a small line outside the Apple store. I entered the store and asked someone about the line and what I should do because I could see people holding white vouchers and I didn’t want to get in line for nothing. The associate stated they’d given out the last voucher and would be giving out no more; at this point I stated I was very disappointed would not have wasted my time if a representative on the phone had not told me there were phones in stock.

As it turns out, the vouchers were being given out because the purchase and activation process takes so long. Apple is personally selling, activating, configuring, and answering questions for EVERY SINGLE iPhone customer. As it turns out, they limited the number of vouchers because there wasn’t enough time in the day, not because they were out of stock.

I do have one suggestion. Find an Apple store in a Mall so the line outside the store is indoors and air conditioned. It got up to a lovely 103F yesterday and sweating outside isn’t much fun. We tried to buy margaritas to drink while in line but forgot it’s illegal to leave a restaurant with a drink.

Last but not least – it seems all of the ATT stores in Dallas are only fulfilling pre-orders and they are not expecting store shipments for 10-21 days (…which grew from 3-5 days)

So in conclusion, your chances of a getting a phone at this time is random, the lines are BYOB, and the wait is because of the stupid in-store-only activation process.

First of all I have to say I loathe the idea that Apple is not allowing background processes (per their documentation). Not to say Apple won’t change those provisions, but as-is, I don’t agree with disallowing background processes. On to the list (no particular order):

  1. mac worms (the kind that would spread across macs and iphones)
  2. making your iPhone a social communications device, for free
  3. p2p could be used to download and share music, for free
  4. battery life decreased more than 60 seconds
  5. turning iphone into free wifi hotspot takes away from ATT/Starbucks hot spot access
  6. cause ATT to discontinue distributing Apple revenue (due to #2, #3, #5 above)
  7. it would compete with Apple’s upcoming “iGPS”
  8. the SDK is really only for making games; Apple makes the real apps
  9. the device would be considered a weapon and be disallowed exportation
  10. iPhone can be used as a guidance control system for ballistics
Personally, I think if Apple were smart, they would realize how much running down a battery would cause folks to buy extra chargers for their car and work place. Oh well.

First off, if you’d like an overview of the iPhone SDK event as well as some quick details, head over to macrumors.com, they’ve done a great job of summarizing the Event [macrumors summary]. The iPhone SDK is a 2.1GB download which you get from Apple’s iPhone developer site – certificates are $99 or $299 [here]. At one point the SDK documentation was publicly accessible but Apple has since restricted it to registered users. The SDK itself still appears to be free (you can signup without purchasing a certificate). What comes with the SDK:

  •  XCode 3.1 Beta (along with updated utilities)
  • Platforms/Aspen.platform
  • Platforms/AspenSimulator.platform
  • Platforms/MacOSX.platform
Quick Note: The iPhone SDK only supports Intel – it will not work if you’ve got a PPC-based system (G3/4/5)
So what are the platforms?
 
Apple has expanded Xcode to support projects based on a platform. The Aspen.platform directory and MacOSX.platform directories have icons which we see used in Xcode and Instruments to select between platforms for a project or trace. We can also see a glimpse of Apple’s naming process on how to refer to the ‘iPhone / iPod Touch’ operating system; as such, we’ll follow suit and use “Aspen” as well.
 
Since this is about the iPhone SDK and not Xcode we’ll move right along into Aspen – the simulator and the device. Fire up Xcode to start developing an application and then select a new iPhone Application project where you can select from:
  • Cocoa Touch Application
  • Cocoa Touch List
  • Cocoa Touch Toolbar 
You should first note that all three applications have the same thing in common – “Cocoa Touch”. As a part of the SDK Apple has provided the UIKit framework which provides core features required by every application as well as access to device-specific features such as the Accelerometer and Camera. The Cocoa Touch “layer” comprises of the UIKit and Foundation frameworks. It should be noted that the Aspen Foundation framework isn’t the same as the MacOSX Foundation framework.
 
Of the project templates above, the Application is a basic application which does nothing, the List is a flat list of locales and the Touch Toolbar could be considered the “richest” application as it is a menu bar with Red, Green, and Blue buttons which change the color of the application’s canvas.

simulator.png

After creating a project you can simply Build & Go which will compile and execute the project – when executed your application will open inside of the Simulator. As Apple hasn’t yet issued any developer certificates (I’m waiting on mine), you can only test with the Simulator. When certificates are available you will actually be able to test the application on your iPhone/iPod Touch while it is tethered to your machine. All of this is accomplished by changing the compile settings from Simulator to device. One quick note: Not all simulator functionality is supported on the actual devices and not all device functionality is supported on the simulator. A quick diff of the two “.Platform” directories gives us a quick glimpse of the differences:
 
alexs-macbook-pro:c
od
e nessence$ diff device simulator 
0a1
> Accelerate.framework
2a4
> ApplicationServices.framework
5d6
< CFNetwork.framework
9a11,12
> CoreServices.framework
> DiskArbitration.framework
13,14d15
< OpenAL.framework
< OpenGLES.framework
 
This means some functionality “< ” you’ll only be able to test on the device, and other functionality “> ” you can only build for the simulator. It maybe possible you can build device functionality that’s only in the simulator with some workarounds but I’m sure the better option is to wait for Apple to update the SDK.
 
In addition to integration with Xcode, you’ll find that Apple’s “Instruments” application which can take advantage of debugging utilities to monitor the performance of your applications. From my testing I could only get some of the traces to work with the simulator while it was obvious I would need to debug the device directly for other traces (Core Animation, OpenGL ES). This only makes sense because you can’t currently compile an application for the Simulator with the OpenGL frameworks.
 
While it’s evident improvements can be made to the SDK, Apple has done a good job for the first release. Writing a simulator to encapsulate an entire OS is no small feat. The most promising functionality is the level of debugging (and remote debugging) that Apple is pushing to provide by integrating iPhone development into both Xcode and Instruments (ie DTrace).
 

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