iPhone 3G Upgrade? – The App Store Question

★ The iPhone 3G Upgrade Question

For the rest of us who lack such common sense and are considering upgrading — yours truly included — it’s not a sure thing. The only significant differences between the iPhone 3G and the original iPhone are the 3G networking and GPS. That’s it. (Daring Fireball link & quote)

This has been going through my head, and is the common response whenever I’m asked if I’ll be in the lines for the new iPhone. I’m not even convinced there will be lines akin to last June 29. Nutty people like myself A) have a really good iPhone already, and B) know Apple will have plenty to sell on day two.

3G would be nice, but I haven’t missed it. I use my phone mostly for email. Despite the hype, email will rarely benefit from 3G. It’s just (mostly) text. Sure attachments will come in quicker but no big deal.

Most serious iPhone web browsing I do is within WiFi range. AT&T hasn’t added 3G to my local towers yet, so useless when elsewhere in town. Tethering would be great, but no tethering allowed.

I have a Garmin Nuvi 360 which is a great GPS unit. Thus far no traditional GPS direction software is on the iPhone 3G. We don’t know if the GPS chip is good enough, and some signs point to Apple refusing to even allow such software.

All the above is based on the existing iPhone software. The 2.0 iPhone OS upgrade is minor from a user application standpoint, and all iPhone users get it for free.

The key is the App Store. Will there be a killer app for 3G or GPS?

If someone creates a great app that, for me, demands 3G and/or GPS the scale may shift the other way.

3G I’m not so sure. The 3G Mystery App would demand high-speed access and would demand I use it when away from WiFi. That’s a possibility.

GPS intrigues me. Shortly before the iPhone 3G keynote I was telling a friend how I didn’t care if the new model had GPS or not. My Nuvi is great, and I don’t see the iPhone (a more generalized device) topping its capabilities. Frequently updated maps would be nice, but Garmin could do that too. The current pseudo-GPS tells me where I am, kinda-sorta. But I hadn’t considered what else a GPS might provide beyond getting me around town.

The first hint came from Apple itself, when I saw the iPhone beta OS included geotagging for photos. Hmmmm. Now the camera itself is just a tiny thing, and the pseudo-GPS I already have is good enough for how I’ll use it. I’d rather see true GPS on my DSLR. But I get the point. iPhone GPS isn’t about driving. It’s all about the apps I haven’t seen yet.

I really think the App Store, or more accurately the developers behind it, is the key to the iPhone’s leap to the next level of success.

So my current plan is to avoid the mall on July 11th, but keep a keen eye on the App Store.

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