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iPhone killer-app is letting users choose software – Yahoo! News

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The first iPhones won praise for their sleek design and elegant touchscreen, but Apple’s new computer phones, arriving this week, will use the power of software to make the device like no phone ever seen.

Whether it’s faster Web speeds, security for business users or using the phone’s direction-finding capability to let it act as a game controller or location-aware device, it’s software, not hardware, that should define the iPhone from here out.

“The emphasis on software shifts the debate from how cool a device it is to what it can do for you,” says Tim Bajarin, an analyst with industry research firm Creative Strategies of San Jose, California, and a veteran Apple-watcher.

“It’s basically redefining what a phone is,” said Raven Zachary, open source software analyst for industry research firm The 451 Group and founder of iPhone Dev Camp, a conference for independent developers of software for iPhones.

Photo courtesy Apple

Get over how it looks. It’s the power of the computer inside, combined with supporting technologies that let it perform many powerful tasks no phone has managed before.

The iPhone 3G also works on faster networks, so software runs twice as fast as the first-round devices. This makes it more effective at running complex software with functions that trip up phones on slower networks, forcing users to hop on standard computers to get any real work done beyond replying to e-mail or quickly scanning the most vital work documents.

Furthermore, Apple is eliminating the complexity for users to install and run software on phones.

The new AppStore, offering one-button access to buy and install programs on iPhones, is expected to transform what is expected from software on phones. Unlike PCs, phones tend to offer little or no choice of what programs run on them.

Apple resisted opening up the iPhone to software developers at first, meaning that only Web-based software could run on it. But a change of heart by Apple since October has brought software developers flooding in to take advantage of new powers to run programs on the phone rather than, slowly, via the Web.

Jeff Kemp (Golden, CO), jeffkemp.org.