New iPhone Makes Debut

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Apple’s iPhone 4 hit stores today with scores fans waiting anxiously to purchase the device. But does it live up to the hype? Tech culture journalist and blogger Xeni Jardin offers a review of the Apple’s newest gadget.

TONY COX, host:

Students and others will be talking to each other across broadband, Wi-Fi and cellular lines if they pick up the Apple iPhone 4, just out today. The iPhone 1 was released three years ago. The latest edition has seen hundreds of thousands of preorders. To tell us about this and other tech news, we have Xeni Jardin, a tech culture journalist and coeditor of the blog Boing Boing. Nice to have you.

Ms. XENI JARDIN (Tech Blogger): Hi, Tony, it's great to be here.

COX: So what's the big deal? And why the rollout problems? Doesn't Apple know how popular the iPhone is?

Ms. JARDIN: Well, I guess the big deal is that this is a substantially improved version of Apple's very popular iPhone. There are a number of tweaks here, as I noted in my review on Boing Boing. They add up to a pretty big leap forward. The A4 processor that was in the iPad that made things so zippy is now in this device. The display is incredibly crisp - lends itself well to long bouts of reading email or even iBooks, which is also available now on the device.

There are a number of improvements with ability to take photos and video. The video quality is really amazing. And you know, it's not an entirely new class of device like the iPad was. But it - for people who really like a smartphone with a lot of different features packed in and heavy multimedia abilities, there really is a lot of excitement about this.

COX: Can they keep up with that excitement and demand?

(Soundbite of laughter)

COX: Doesn't(ph) seem so.

Ms. JARDIN: You know, we'll see as the day unfolds. There was much hay made over the fact that people - I think there was something like 600,000 orders placed online within that first 24-hour period after the iPhone went for sale online. And then much hay made again about the fact that a lot of those early orders - people received back messages saying, eh, sorry, you're not going to get this until very late in June or early July.

But then, yesterday, we saw people who weren't expecting to receive their iPhones shipped getting iPhones as early as yesterday, a day before they went available in stores. I think the same day that my review went live and some of the other kind of early tech reviewers - you know, we all posted our reviews on the same day - that very same day, it looks like some, I guess we can call them civilians, just regular folks who ordered their phones online, got their iPhones that same day. So the problems in delivering the device may be overblown. We'll see again how that shakes out over the next few days.

COX: There were two other topics that I really wanted to get to with you. One of them is a lot more important, I suppose, than the other one, but the one I'm going to ask about is the one that I personally find the most interesting. It's World Cup time, of course.

(Soundbite of laughter)

COX: And if you are watching it, you probably have heard this sound.

(Soundbite of vuvuzelas)

Ms. JARDIN: Make it go away.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. JARDIN: Stop, Tony.

COX: Of course this is the sound of the vuvuzela. As prompted, the broadcast originated to experiment with ways to decrease the sound from the broadcast. How did they do that?

Ms. JARDIN: God, vuvuzela is the new waterboarding. I don't know how they do that. They have very good engineers, very good audio engineers at these television networks. My colleague, Mark Frauenfelder on Boing Boing, did a few posts about this. There are actually DIY methods to filter out vuvuzela when you're watching World Cup, even if the network doesn't manage to do it. Like these audio geeks and people who've hooked up different apparatus to their - to their television, or they're watching it on their computer and there's different filtering software you can use. My solution as a non-sports fan is simply to not watch the World Cup.

(Soundbite of laughter)

COX: To not - oh, well, we can't do that. You know what? It seems - really briefly - my last question - it seems as if this has done just the opposite. It's made it even more popular, perhaps, even though people don't like it.

Ms. JARDIN: Maybe. Yeah. I saw that YouTube yesterday introduced this little button on a lot of World Cup-related videos. It's a vuvuzela add button. So if you don't have enough vuvuzela in your World Cup, you could just double the quantity.

COX: You could certainly get one.

Xeni Jardin is a tech culture journalist and coeditor of the blog Boing Boing. She joined us from NPR West. Thank you very much.

Ms. JARDIN: Thank you.

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