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Pogue offers answers to some burning iPhone questions


New York Times technology columnist David Pogue this weekend delivered some additional details on Apple's new iPhone features, including dialing, synchronization, and web browsing.

Answering questions from curious readers, Pogue, who had some one-on-one time with the iPhone during Macworld, clarified some of its abilities while eliminating glaring misconceptions about others.

Notably, the journalist pointed out that the mobile edition of Safari, once thought to be stripped of many of the media plugins necessary for more advanced websites, will likely be full featured. He cited an interview with Apple chief executive Steve Jobs conducted by the German magazine MacWelt that raises the possibility of JavaScript and Flash support, suggesting the Apple-made handset may either directly support Flash or else receive easy conversion of Flash videos into external formats.

"YouTube — of course. But you don't need Flash to show YouTube," Jobs said. "We could get [YouTube] to up their video resolution... by using H.264 instead of the old codec."

Pogue also noted that the iPhone's now-legendary "pinch" control for zooming photos will also apply to e-mail and web browsing, offering a complete view of a page or magnifying text for those with poor eyesight. "I could zoom in and out on an entire e-mail message: embedded photo, text, and all," he wrote.

However, the New York Times editor was quick to downplay some supposed features of the device, stating bluntly that the iPhone as shown at Macworld does not support speed dialing, live GPS positioning through its Google Maps tool, or wireless synchronization with a host computer through either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

Pogue nevertheless defends Apple, saying that he "could not agree more" with a reader who observed that Apple was not likely to let the iPhone's capabilities remain static in the run-up to its June launch.

Read below for a complete list of more definite information revealed in Pogue's article:

  • JavaScript is "built into the phone," according to Jobs, but a full Java engine would only be a "heavyweight ball and chain" no one uses.
  • Jobs on the subject of Flash: "you might see that."
  • The company has not decided on whether or not a user's existing music library can be used for ringtones.
  • Mac OS X on the iPhone is stripped down. The interface has been redesigned for the phone as well.
  • The Calendar tool will allow new events and schedules to be added from the phone itself, rather than requiring a sync.
  • The settings menu is functional and includes an airplane mode (which disables the cellular radio while maintaining other features such as music).
  • The pinch motion works with both e-mail and web browsing, controlling zoom.
  • No speed dial links exist at present, but may change by the official launch.
  • As demonstrated, the phone has no GPS integration and cannot pinpoint its owner's location in Google Maps.
  • The display surface is polycarbonate plastic, but is "substantially improved" over the material used for iPods and should resist easy scratching. Brightness is very high.
  • Input on the screen must be made using direct finger contact, and does not work with gloves or a stylus.
  • Any set of earphones with a standard headphone plug will work without adapters.
  • The company plans to add 3G wireless (in the form of HSDPA) to the iPhone once access is more widespread.
  • Apple may allow rotating the phone for entering text in a more comfortable landscape mode, but has not committed to the feature yet.

Published Sunday 5:00pm ET as part of Monday's early morning edition.