Apple iPhone Page 2

Tapping the settings icon offered me a Wi-Fi option. I wasn't yet connected, so I tapped on it and a list of networks popped up, including my own. I touched it, a checkmark appeared, and I was wirelessly connected to the Internet.

Performance You get to the iPod functions via one of the home-screen icons. For music, the big advance with the iPhone is touch-controlling the Cover Flow interface first introduced in iTunes and on Apple TV. Turn the iPhone sideways, and the screen changes to a carousel of covers you can flick through. Tap one, and it spins around to reveal the track titles. Touch a song, and it begins to play. Pause, volume, next track, and drag-to-position within the song are similarly managed by touching or sliding your finger on the glass.

Controlling the display at the point of display is intuitive, which is best showcased by looking at pictures, whether slides of your dog or an aerial view of the neighborhood. It all feels so natural, which wasn't how I felt the first time I pushed an onscreen pointer from a deskbound mouse.

You don't get the same sizing flexibility with video as with still pictures. But I was afforded the choice of viewing the motion picture Cars, which I had bought from iTunes, in the movie's original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, the iPhone fitting three Lightning McQueen magazine covers across via extreme letterboxing on a screen already at 16:9, versus blowing up the picture to contain the center cover in its entirety but cropping off the other two's outermost halves. Either way, the movie looked gorgeous, even if the smaller-than-a-playing-card screen doesn't fill your peripheral vision. There could be ownership issues if a child is watching when the phone rings.

A new addition to iTunes is the ability to create ring tones. Unfortunately, the feature works only with songs purchased through the iTunes Store, and a subset of its inventory at that. You actually pay twice - once to download the song and again to harvest a ring tone of up to 30 seconds from anywhere in the song. You graphically highlight the waveform of the music to audio accompaniment that you want to use, and iTunes crops and syncs it to your iPhone. I chose the bullet-ricocheting and dance beat beginning of The Escape Club's 1988 hit, "Wild, Wild West" instead of one of the 25 ringtones included in the iPhone. For the privilege, I paid a total of $1.98.

One of my favorite activities is looking at YouTube clips, and though Apple still hadn't converted the entire library by late September - I couldn't find my own posting via the iPhone though it's been available via computer for months - it did come through with a clip from a few days earlier of presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani interrupting his speech to the National Rifle Association in order to answer a call from his wife. (No. He wasn't carrying an iPhone.)

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