A case for the iPhone

As you might know, I have never been fond of the iPhone. Crazy as the geek community might be about this device from Apple, it never appealed to me. Even with all the fanbois saying that you have to touch it to feel how wonderful it is, which I did, I was never attracted to it. It was just too much for the simple funtionality which I require from my cellphones, and required too many bananas to own one..

But after listening to a recent episode of TWiT, and the constant argument by Dan from Tech65 that iPhone’s best feature is it’s full fledged browser, I realised that maybe it did have a place in my world..

It all begins with RSS. Dave Winer, the guy who pioneered RSS was on episode 134 of TWiT (yes, yes, the infamous one) mentioning how iTunes’ use of RSS, for podcasts, is nowhere near the potential that RSS provides. One of Dave’s envisioned use of RSS for podcasts would be to have a mobile device that would allow the aggregation of Podcasts wirelessly_(~ 40mins from the start)_.

That led me thinking, why do we have to tether the iPhone to a PC/Mac to load content onto it? While it is of course a better solution from Apple’s perspective, as they have more control over what gets into the iPhone, “valid” content should be download able over the air. And podcasts are surely one of the best example of “valid” content. Not only that, the mechanism of getting those, RSS, is also something that’s already supported on the iPhone. So why can’t we have an iTunes or a podcast aggregator on the iPhone itself?

Moving on, podcasts might not be everyone’s cup of tea (Though I would like to argue otherwise, we will leave it for some other time), but news is. And RSS and feeds are surely the best way of getting news. And more specifically getting news you are on the go. But RSS isn’t so much a content delivery mechanism as a notification mechanism, at least the way it is uses in these days. So what is the use of having an RSS feed without a browser to actually surf the content which you were notified of by the RSS?

So now, with the iPhone SDK released, adding these functionality to the iPhone would be a matter of making the right app. A podcast aggregator or podcatcher which lives on the iPhone and is able to download the podcasts as the come out directly to your iPhone, using Wifi or cellular data whichever is available. And an RSS aggregator which is able to work with Safari, which is a full fledged browser (albeit no flash support) to give you the complete experience of news over RSS. And furthermore, if you are able to integrate these apps even more, you could hyper link the “show notes” delivered with your podcasts, something that’s already doable with enhanced podcasts, and surf them up, in the browser, while you listen to the podcasts in the background. There you go, your complete podcast experience. Place shifting along with the rest of the experience.

So maybe, the iPhone could be the key to podcasts becoming bigger. Anyone interested in developing these iPhone apps?