I present a number of unanswered questions — the main reasons why I will not be getting an iPhone for at least a week or two (if not longer or ever):
* Does it support dialup networking? Dialup networking via Bluetooth? One of the features I love about my Treo is that I can put it into DUN mode, wirelessly connect the laptop to it, then have a full 17″ internet experience on the laptop. Admittedly, it’s at dialup speeds, but when I’m doing this, I don’t need much more than that: using ssh to connect to servers, checking email, checking a few web pages, IRC, etc.
* We have already seen that some of the applications are really widgets and not applications: weather, stocks, etc. Are 3rd parties able to make widgets? This would solve the above question — if the Sudoku (or whatever) could be packaged as a self-contained widget, then there’s no worry.
* How well will it work for Podcasts? I see that seeking through an audio or video is done by sliding a scrollbar. If I have a podcast that an hour or longer and just want to skip back 20 seconds to catch something I missed, how easy will it be with that slider? Or is there an alternative method? How will show notes work? I know that iTunes slurps up the show notes and presents them on the regular iPod as text. With the iPhone will links in the shownotes be presented as actual links (or, at least, as copy-and-pasteable text?)
* How does copy and paste work? DOES it work at all? Can I open the address book, copy a phone number or address, and paste it into an email message without attaching a full-blown vCard or whatever?
* We’ve been told that, unlike iPods, the iPhone won’t show up as a disk when plugged in to the computer. Is that because Apple has a proprietary USB protocol or is that because the iPhone drivers in OS X and/or Windows make it a hidden device? For instance, when you plug in an iPod, you see the icon and SOME of the folders in Finder, but if you drop to a shell and do something like “ls /Volumes/iPod” you’ll see and can access all of the hidden folders. (This is how the programs like senuTi can slurp music off of an iPod.) Is it a hidden disk, or is it a completely different device? Can it be accessed from the shell? What if you plug it into a Linux box?
* What will the hackability be like? When the AppleTV came out, it was less than a week before people were upgrading the hard drive, installing custom codexes, writing custom plugins, enabling the ssh server, and all that good stuff. Will the iPhone be similarly hackable? Will I be able to activate a shell server, then use that to log in to the iPhone’s OS X and kludge together some dialup networking with shell scripts and Unix CLI tools? Will there even be a version of bash, ash, sh, csh, tcsh, etc precompiled and sitting on the iPhone’s disk?
All of this remains to be seen, but I know that the best minds of Silicon Valley are preparing to line up to be the first to have an iPhone, and they can be the guinea pigs and tinkerers to shell out the cash, void their warranties, and determine what is possible.