I (think I) Saw the iPhone 5

Device in question is against the wall on the left, dark restaurant with an iPhone 4 camera.

Last week I saw a guy using a touch-screen phone that was super thin with a big bright screen and almost zero bezel.

It immediately caught my attention and I asked my friend Kayla, who was facing the table, to let me know if the guy picked it up and used it. It had been, until then, left to sit on the table unused.

The guy this friend was talking to said something that made the guy pull out his phone and pull up the notepad. This was when Kayla and I realized, this super thin phone was an iPhone. Sure enough, the home screen came back up and it was iOS.

It appeared that the screen took up most of the device, it was super thin, and shorter than the current iPhone. The phone was wrapped in matte black, almost like gaffers tape. It is thinner than I was able to convey in this mockup, almost as thin as a Motorola Razor screen.

I’m no good at making mockups but I did my best to illustrate what we saw.

iPhone 5 vs iPhone 4 mockup

These guys were talking about a new cloud service that was similar to “AWS” but had “no net loss.” AWS, for those who don’t know, means “Amazon Web Services” which provide a plethora of syncing and data hosting services, as well as Amazon’s new cloud music system.

We did our best to listen to their conversation as they drank beers but didn’t pull too much from it. Watching the WWDC live right now I now understand more of what they were talking about, which leads credence to the theory that this phone was indeed an iPhone 5.

All this said, I’m pretty sure that some blog like The Unofficial Apple Weblog will see this, post it and turn out that I’m totally high and these two dude work for IBM and everything is totally coincidental. However, I’m hoping that isn’t the case. :-)

UPDATE: So after being mentioned on the TWiT Network and WWDC coming to pass, a post by Joshua Topolsky came to my attention about the design of the iPhone 5 via another blog post on some other tech site (too many to remember).

Joshua (or his people) made their own mockup and it is scary similar to the design I saw (and tried to mockup myself).

 

This is My Next iPhone 5 Mockup

This is My Next iPhone 5 Mockup

Hip to be Square

Twelve years ago the e-commerce world was turned upside down when PayPal was founded. It was the solution to money orders, checks in the mail and the still uncomfortable credit card purchase for goods on the web. PayPal came out and Internet buyers no longer had to worry whether their credit card was going to be intercepted by some nefarious hacker and sellers didn’t have to wait for checks to clear before shipping a product.

It was revolutionary for its convenience, safety and near immediate ubiquity. The 2002 purchase of PayPal by eBay seemed about as appropriate as any other acquisition, a much smarter decision than the Skype purchase in 2005. I’d wager that as much as half of eBay’s users already thought PayPal was owned by eBay, only once can I remember using another form of payment than PayPal.

PayPal’s reign on e-commerce lasted over a decade and managed to make it beyond eBay into the mainstream Internet marketplace. However, the problem they were once solving was under fire from other companies like Google and Amazon with their universal logins for making purchases all over the net and Visa’s Secure Pay authorization system.

Purchasing items over the Internet is no longer a risky, scary or cumbersome adventure. We do it more and more every year, much to the chagrin of state and local governments, it’s as natural as handing handing a credit card to the clerk at Target.

There was a new problem on the horizon, one that has existed longer than e-commerce but seemed to have no feasible solution. The problem? How does a consumer easily, quickly and securely pay someone for a product or service in person? We’re back to cash, checks and money orders. Credit card terminals are expensive and PayPal’s solutions aren’t proving to be the panacea they once were.

That’s where Square Inc. comes in. Early this year Square announced their intent to solve this problem by providing a free headphone jack dongle to iPhone/iPod Touch users to swipe credit cards. Instead of requiring both parties to be a member of the service, only the seller needs a Square account. Much like in an Apple Store, a seller is able to swipe a credit card for any amount of money, the buyer signs for it and a receipt is promptly emailed back to to both parties.

The seller can even take pictures of the purchased item and include it in the digital receipt.

The new Square dongle

That was quite the introduction, I know. It shouldn’t take 400 words to explain the principles behind such a tiny and simple device. Perhaps its complexity comes from its simplicity. How can something that small work and why do I need it? Shouldn’t there be a catch? Expensive iPhone attachment, monthly membership rates, minimum transactions per month or high transaction fees?

If Bank of America had created this device, sure. That would be the case. Luckily they didn’t. There are no membership fees, the dongle is free, no minimum monthly transactions and affordable transaction fees.

  • 2.75% + 15¢ for swiped transactions
  • 3.5% + 15¢ for keyed-in transactions

The Square dongle worked great on any iPhone/iPod Touch before expanding to the iPad, Nexus One, Motorola Droid, Motorola Droid X, HTC Droid Incredible, HTC Evo, HTC Hero, HTC Desire, Samsung Galaxy S series, and the LG Ally.

When the iPhone 4 came out, with its metal exterior construction, users began reporting problems with swipes not registering and other bugs. The metal on the dongle was shorting out on the metal of the phone.

Edit c/o @Arclite

Looks good, one problem: “The metal on the dongle was shorting out on the metal of the phone.” is incorrect. It’s not technically a short—works fine on the metal rim of the iPad. The problem is that the metal is an antenna and the data passing through the antenna causes interference with the dongle, causing the data to be corrupt.

It took months for the original Square dongle to come out. Learning about this new problem with the iPhone 4 made many Square users wince. Luckily it didn’t take nearly as long to release the dongle as it took to create an all new dongle. It wasn’t long before Square sent out the new and improved dongles, as pictured above.

The new design is thinner, smoother and sleeker. It looks more polished, swipes more reliably and maintains its price point of free. It even includes a hoop for a small lanyard (see the front right in the picture above).

I haven’t had more than a dozen times that I have used my Square but I’m also not someone who sells a lot of stuff. This is huge, however, for street venders, artists, wedding photographers, garage sale people and more. No more cash only, no more prepaying and no more worry about checks clearing.

It’s a solution to an age-old problem that only ingenuity, smart devices and the cloud could solve.

I love my Square and tip my hat to the brilliant people who made it possible!

Oh, and for what it’s worth, Square isn’t the only company in the mobile purchasing game. Intuit recently teamed up with Mophie to create the Mophie Marketplace iPhone case.

Mophie Marketplace iPhone Credit Card Reader

Their case is much more professional in appearance, sturdier and perhaps more user-friendly. This comes at a cost however, each case will set you back $180. Intuit also charges $13 each month for access to the service, thought their transaction fees are lower than Square.

  • 1.7% + 30¢ for swiped transactions
  • 2.7% +30¢ for keyed-in transactions

Which device is the right one for you really depends on how often you will use it. I for one am happy with my Square!

These Are Not the Droid (effects) You’re Looking For

Over the last few weeks, Verizon has subjected anyone in front of a television with some pretty interesting commercials.  Kind of… Clovererfield/Transformers-esque.

I’ll go ahead and post one here for your enjoyment.

And then of course, the original advertisement.  Anti-Apple much?  I’m definitely an Apple Fanboy at this point and you might expect that I would be pissed that Verizon would put out such a commercial.  Not really though because it seems to me that it’s about time Apple’s iPhone got some real competition and if that’s the Droid, then bring on the ads.

So there you go, Verizon + Motorola + Google Android = DROID = iPhone Killer.  Fantastic. Competition is good! Apple will again begin pushing the limits on what a phone can do.  Maybe go after those attacks about no flash, only 2mp camera, etc etc.  Meanwhile, since the DROID phone is so closely tied to  Verizon and the iPhone to AT&T, maybe we’ll see some benefits there too right?

AT&T has horrendous 3G coverage around the nation, especially when compared to Verizon.  That’s an obvious first step on AT&T’s part.  How about cost?  I pay my iPhone bill every month and every month I think… wow that’s a lot of money.  I bet with the DROID phone, Verizon will go after AT&T’s bottom line.  Make their DROID plans significantly cheaper than the iPhone.  Any amount over $10 is a dramatic difference, if they were $30 a month cheaper I might even be tempted to switch!  Better 3G coverage and cheaper monthly plans?!

Well, unfortunately, Ronald Reagan was wrong.  Competition doesn’t fuel the benefits he and other “Reaganomics” economists promised.  For the most part, the DROID cost of ownership is exactly the same as the iPhone with only one plan cheaper.  By how much? By a massive $0.01!

Chart created by Nicole Lee from CNet.com

Wow that’s disappointing.  When you break down the differences in price which is only in the text message options, it becomes a total wash.  The DROID is cheaper for the small text message plan (250 vs 200 messages) but for the high end the iPhone is better (5000 vs unlimited).  Guess I’ll stick to my iPhone.

UPDATE: Turns out Verizon plans to charge $15/month for access to Exchange on the DROID, something A&T doesn’t charge for on the iPhone. So if you, like me, use Exchange on your phone, turns out the iPhone is $180 a year cheaper, $360 for the length of the contract which is around or more than than the price of getting out of your contract with either carrier!

Let’s get a bit political.  The Republicans are saying that natural competition between insurance companies will decrease the price of premiums and increase the availability of coverage.  Well, not so true as seen here.  When companies are in collusion with each other to keep prices at a certain point, they have no real reason to undercut the competition.  Ugh.

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