Why isn't the iPhone's screen 16:9?

So, like many of you... I've been obsessed with my new iPhone this past week. I have grown curious as to why its designers decided to use the screen it did. The more I think about it, the more it would have made sense to go with a 16:9 ratio screen. I don't know what possessed them to go with a 3:2. This device is supposed to become my premier place for viewing mobile video...wouldn't it make sense to use the standard aspect ratio for all things video today?

I've done the math (hopefully it's right) and if we keep the same width, the length only grows by about half an inch (approx. 1.3 cm), which I'd be more than fine with myself, and probably everyone else too I'd imagine. I've made a quick little graphic to give you a better idea of what I'm talking about here.

iphone screen comparison

Now this makes the screen 4.1 inches rather than the 3.5 it currently is, or just about the same size as the PSP's screen. Assuming they were to keep a similar resolution, it would go from 480 x 320 to 569 x 320 I guess. The 569 sounds a little awkward to me, so I bet they'd probably shift it up or down by 1 pixel. Then again, if a higher resolution puts a strain on their hardware this might make them want to drop the resolution to what the PSP uses (480 x 270). What I'd really love to see is for them to bump it up to EDTV resolution (aka 480p-wide, or 854 x 480). Honestly, I can't see any self-respecting portable media player that has a resolution less than this. Maybe Apple will go this route with their next generation...but by then, I'll probably have moved onto something powered by OpenMoko/Android/LiMo/MobLin/OpenSymbian/etc ;)

PS: Haven't gotten around to jailbreaking my iPhone3G just yet, hopefully all will go well tonight...


Pandora iPhone Update

Well, after reading this article and a few others tonight...it's become clear that some of my wish list points are not possible under the terms of Apple's SDK agreement, no 3rd party apps are allowed to run in the background. This means that my #1 feature is impossible, and it kinda puts a damper on some of the others (like for example, opening Safari to look at artist info and things like that isn't nearly so enticing if it means my music has to be put on hold till I come back). Sadly, it looks like I'll have to rely on my own music collection if I want to listen to music while web browsing... This really sucks since I'm still waiting on them to release PwnageTool 2.0 so I can transfer my songs over (Linux user...no iTunes).

As another note, although I still wish they could work out a deal to pool their data ;) ...Last.fm now has an app too. I really like those guys, they seem much more open source friendly and focused on community/user generated content...but I never seem to enjoy the stations Last.fm creates as much as I do my Pandora ones. Still, the Last.fm app seems to be a bit more featureful, including a few of the ones on my list...however their caching/lag problem is even worse than Pandora's!

So anyway, as it stands...my custom radio stations will have to be saved for music only times as far as my iPhone is concerned :/

[Listening to my Pandora station: "Igneous Radio" as I type this...isn't multitasking wonderful]


10 Features Pandora on the iPhone is Missing

So I did it... I broke down and jumped aboard the iPhone train this past weekend. One of the number one reasons I decided to take the plunge? Internet radio anywhere I go...particularly Pandora. I'm so addicted to Pandora, I almost never listen to my personal music collection anymore.

So, when I saw that they released a Pandora app for my new iPhone 3G, I was ecstatic. The app's great...but there are a few things I'd love to see in a future update. The web based version of Pandora has alot more controls for you than the simple iPhone app...which is to be expected (for now). Still...there are a few features I'd love to see added in a future release.

1. Add the ability to continue listening to Pandora while using other apps. I'd really like to keep listening to Pandora while I'm browsing the web or wasting time on Facebook. This is probably the number one flaw with the current version of the app.

2. I really miss what I call the "snooze button". On the regular flash/web version of Pandora you have to click the "Guide Us" button at the bottom and then click on "(Zzz) I'm tired of this song, don't play it for a month". Sadly, I end up using that button alot more often than I'd like.

3. We need the ability to add more songs/artists to our stations via the app. All of my stations are multilayered with fairly long lists of songs I like in a particular genre, however if I create a new station via the iPhone app I only get the ability to use a single song or artist seed. It'd also be handy to be able to do all the same things you can edit on the regular version...if nothing else, maybe allow us to click a button to open up Safari and go to the edit page (assuming feature #1 on my list is fulfilled first).

4. It'd be really nice to be able to pull up artist, album and song info from within the app...just as you can access the "why are you playing this" feature.

5. Song history, like in the regular version would be nice too...although not absolutely necessary. It sure would be neat to flick my finger to the right and go back and see what I just listened to ;)

6. Resume where you left off. It'd be pretty cool if when I closed/paused the Pandora app, I could come back to it later and finish out the last song I had going and go from there. This would be especially handy for when you receive a call while listening...

7. The volume control needs to be reworked. Right now it's kinda funky to change the volume. It may just because I have fat fingers or something, but I have to try shifting the volume slider 3 or 4 times before it responds...I've almost convinced myself I have to double click it first to unlock it :P Also...I've discovered I can use the physical volume buttons on the side of the iPhone, but I'm not sure if I'm actually changing Pandora's volume, or just my headphones/speaker volume since the slider does not change/update along with it.

8. Do a better job of caching. Yes, I'm sure the iPhone has limited RAM available, however I've got plenty of hard drive space you could go ahead and cache the next song to. On my computer, Pandora instantly starts playing the next track when the current one finishes...but there's quite a noticeable lag between tracks on my iPhone. Now do note, this only occurs when I'm on the EDGE network (3G's not gonna be available in my area till at least October), and there's no problem when connected thru wifi, but once again that's one of the whole reasons I wanted an iPhone, so I could listen to Pandora in my car...and most of America won't have 3G for quite some time.

9. Offer EQ options. The iPhone's "iPod" feature has the ability to choose different EQ settings, but I'm not so sure that affects Pandora. If I'm right, and it doesn't...this is another much appreciated feature (of course the web based version could use this too).

10. Stream in Stereo. This is another one I'm not sure of currently...but I'm fairly sure the iPhone version of Pandora is streaming in mono, which I assume is to save bandwidth (which certainly makes sense when on EDGE). However, when I'm on wifi, or 3G it'd be really nice to have stereo like we get on the regular version. Also, on the flash based version I'm pretty sure Pandora uses 128kbit mp3 audio, but that's I assume a limitation of Adobe's Flash player, so why not use Ogg Vorbis or AAC in the iPhone App edition where you have more control? That would certainly help lower the bandwidth costs.

11(Bonus): Ok, I'm just dreaming with this one...but it'd be awesome if Pandora would look at my Last.fm profile while generating my stations to get even more insight into my tastes ;)

Also, of note....I haven't seen/heard a single advertisement since I've been using the iPhone Pandora app. I don't know how they're affording to do this, so if this changes in the future...Pandora, please give us the choice between free with ads and paid without ;)

Pandora I love you! Keep up the good work...

[Check out my stations]

Update: 2008-07-15@00:09CDT
A couple more I forgot...

12. Add the ability to switch accounts. My wife has her own account, and will surely want to switch over to listen to some of her stations during trips and such...

13. Progress bar. Much like the regular web version, there needs to be a progress bar to give you an idea of how much song is left...maybe even better if you can some how click on it and see an exact seconds....ie: (2:38 of 4:53) or something like that ;)