Thursday, December 20, 2012

PDAs, smartphones, and formfactors

My phone, with a custom Alien Bill Gelaskin...
Not that anyone asked, but after playing with my friend's Galaxy S II, I'm wondering if it might be a better formfactor than my iPhone 5, that the more generous screen might be worthwhile so long as it doesn't take too big of a bite out of battery life or mess with the pocketability. (And I've grown to appreciate the iPhone 5's height, especially when using the calendar app, and with the larger landscape mode keyboard.) Also, the back was rounded... personally I think the earlier iPhones were better ergonomically than today's squared off beauties.

I've been a long term PDA user and when I look at the numbers, all but the biggest of today's phones are smaller than the original series of PalmPilots. It's interesting to note how modern smartphones are much more like the 90s' PDAs then they are like 90s' cellphones; when the iPhone was first announced I was struck by the similarity of its shape and homescreen to that of the Palm, not to mention some of the apps, like the datebook and the notepad. (Actually the first iPhone, without copy and paste or a Todo app, was a step down in terms of being an organizer, though obviously "web anywhere" and being a first rate music player made up for that.)
I've always liked to decorate--
Palm IIIc circa 2003

Now is a good time to suggest this excellent piece How Did We Get to the iPhone?-- the author is pretty sharp and while I would put the Palm chronologically before the Windows PDA stuff, and I'm bummed I missed out on the Psion, I saw a lot of my thoughts echoed in his writing. (For what it's worth (not much!) I chronicled my own personal history of devices, circa 2010. I think all I've added since then is an iPhone or two and a MacBook Air...)

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