iPhone: Lots of allure for government users

[IMGCAP(1)]Apple's iPhone 3G comes out today with an agency-friendly list of features including 3G networking that's more than twice as fast as the original model. The iPhone 2.0 software, which includes support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, also has built-in GPS for expanded location-based mobile services.

The GCN Lab has received a test model and is working to test every feature in great detail, with an eye toward government suitability, which the original model did not really have. That full review is scheduled for the July 28 issue of GCN.

Looking at the phone quickly on launch day, we do see that included in the iPhone 2.0 software is the ability to run hundreds of third-party applications available through the new App Store, a built-in application on every iPhone running iPhone 2.0 software.

The App Store on iPhone works over AT&T's cellular network and Wi-Fi, which means it's accessible from just about anywhere, so users can purchase and download applications wirelessly and start using them instantly. Apple plans for the App Store to offer more than 500 native applications from hundreds of companies around the world in a variety of categories including business, news, health, reference and travel.

Although many applications are free, some will be charged to your iTunes account, which may deter some agencies from considering the iPhone as a device suitable for work.

But the faster bandwidths and robust application features do open a new world of mobile computing which could benefit many agency-oriented communities, especially ones that need to look at large amounts of data, like those who use advanced medical applications. Given the robust nature of the store, there is probably a program that will work with most agency's systems and the new iPhones, so government users can finally start to make use of this amazing mobile tool. And these apps are available on App Store, enabling customers to wirelessly download them directly onto their iPhones and start using them immediately. More than 125 applications are being offered to iPhone customers at no cost.

The iPhone's large display Multi-Touch user interface and fast hardware-accelerated 3D graphics bring a new dimension to high-end applications that surprised us in the lab with performance.

While the iPhone's operating system will now allow wireless synchronization with enterprise level email, calendars and address books, it still lacks some of the security capabilities that will be important to most agency IT administrators.

But perhaps the best feature is the $199 price tag, which is about half the price of its predecessor. However, the 3G isn't perfect. We found several key errors that we will detail, along with several very nice features, in the July 28th issue.

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