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Up How the iPhone Works - 09-03-2007, 03:12 PM

Introduction to How the iPhone Works

In January 2007, Steve Jobs introduced the Apple iPhone during his keynote address at the Macworld Conference and Expo. In its first appearance onscreen and in Jobs's hand, the phone looked like a sleek but inanimate black rectangle.


Then, Jobs touched the screen. Suddenly, the featureless rectangle became an interactive surface. Jobs placed a fingertip on an on-screen arrow and slid it from left to right. When his finger moved, the arrow moved with it, unlocking the phone. To some people, this interaction between a human finger and an on-screen image -- and its effect on the iPhone's behavior -- was more amazing than all of its other features combined.



And those features are plentiful. In some ways, the iPhone is more like a palmtop computer than a cellular phone. As with many smartphones, you can use it to make and receive calls, watch movies, listen to music, browse the Web, and send and receive e-mail and text messages. You can also take pictures with a built-in camera, import photos from your computer and organize them all using the iPhone's software. Although it's not a turn-by-turn GPS receiver, the iPhone also lets you view map and satellite data from Google Maps, including overlays of nearby businesses.*

A modifie*d version of the Macintosh OS X operating system, also used on Apple desktop and laptop computers, lets you interact with all of these applications. It displays icons for each application on the iPhone's screen. It also manages battery power and system security. The operating system synchs the phone with your computer, a process that requires a dock much like the one used to synch an iPod. It also lets you multitask and move through multiple open applications, just like you can on a laptop or desktop computer.

But instead of using a mouse or a physical keyboard, the iPhone uses virtual buttons and controls that appear on its screen. This isn't really a new phenomenon -- touch screens have been part of everything from self-checkout kiosks to smartphones for years. But the iPhone's touch-screen is a little different from many of the others currently on the market. When you touch the screen on a PDA or a Nintendo DS, you typically use a slender, pointed stylus. The iPhone, on the other hand, requires you to use your fingers. It can also detect multiple touch points simultaneously, which many existing touch-screens cannot do.


This article will explore exactly how the iPhone's touch-screen carries instructions from your fingertips to the phone's internal circuitry. We'll also look at the iPhone's features, its hardware and how it compares to smartphones and other electronic devices.





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The Apple iPhone vs. the Cisco iPhone

When Apple announced the iPhone in January 2007, it quickly got the attention of computer technology company Cisco. Cisco was already using the iPhone name on a range of VoIP products and services. Cisco filed a lawsuit, but the two companies eventually reached an agreement with undisclosed terms in February 2007. The agreement allows both companies to use the iPhone name.

*Video Gallery: Touch-screen Technology

Touch-screen technologies are becoming more and more prevalent. Check out the "interface-free" touch-driven computer screen in this video with its inventor Jeff Han, a research scientist at NYU.

Microsoft recently announced Surface, its new touch-sensitive computer interface. Find out how you'll be able to go mouse-free with Surface in this video.

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The iPhone Touch-screen

Electronic devices can use lots of different methods to detect a person's input on a touch-screen. Most of them use sensors and circuitry to monitor changes in a particular state. Many, including the iPhone, monitor changes in electrical current. Others monitor changes in the reflection of waves. These can be sound waves or beams of near-infrared light. A few systems use transducers to measure changes in vibration caused when your finger hits the screen's surface or cameras to monitor changes in light and shadow.



The basic idea is pretty simple -- when you place your finger or a stylus on the screen, it changes the state that the device is monitoring. In screens that rely on sound or light waves, your finger physically blocks or reflects some of the waves. Capacitive touch-screens use a layer of capacitive material to hold an electrical charge; touching the screen changes the amount of charge at a specific point of contact. In resistive screens, the pressure from your finger causes conductive and resistive layers of circuitry to touch each other, changing the circuits' resistance.


Most of the time, these systems are good at detecting the location of exactly one touch. If you try to touch the screen in several places at once, the results can be erratic. Some screens simply disregard all touches after the first one. Others can detect simultaneous touches, but their software can't calculate the location of each one accurately. There are several reasons for this, including:

* Many systems detect changes along an axis or in a specific direction instead of at each point on the screen.

* Some screens rely on system-wide averages to determine touch locations.

* Some systems take measurements by first establishing a baseline. When you touch the screen, you create a new baseline. Adding another touch causes the system to take a measurement using the wrong baseline as a starting point.




The Apple iPhone is different -- many of the elements of its multi-touch user interface require you to touch multiple points on the screen simultaneously. For example, you can zoom in to Web pages or pictures by placing your thumb and finger on the screen and spreading them apart. To zoom back out, you can pinch your thumb and finger together. The iPhone's touch screen is able to respond to both touch points and their movements simultaneously. We'll look at exactly how the iPhone does this in the next section.

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Back-side Touch-screen?

*According to Apple's patent filings, the company may have considered incorporating a touch-screen on the back of the iPhone rather than the front.

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Multi-touch Systems

To allow people to use touch commands that require multiple fingers, the iPhone uses a new arrangement of existing technology. Its touch-sensitive screen includes a layer of capacitive material, just like many other touch-screens. However, the iPhone's capacitors are arranged according to a coordinate system. Its circuitry can sense changes at each point along the grid. In other words, every point on the grid generates its own signal when touched and relays that signal to the iPhone's processor. This allows the phone to determine the location and movement of simultaneous touches in multiple locations. Because of its reliance on this capacitive material, the iPhone works only if you touch it with your fingertip -- it won't work if you use a stylus or wear non-conductive gloves.





The iPhone's screen detects touch through one of two methods: Mutual capacitance or self capacitance. In mutual capacitance, the capacitive circuitry requires two distinct layers of material. One houses driving lines, which carry current, and other houses sensing lines, which detect the current at nodes. Self capacitance uses one layer of individual electrodes connected with capacitance-sensing circuitry.

Both of these possible setups send touch data as electrical impulses. In the next section, we'll take a look at exactly what happens.

Interpreting Touch-location Data

The iPhone's processor and software are central to correctly interpreting input from the touch-screen. The capacitive material sends raw touch-location data to the iPhone's processor. The processor uses software located in the iPhone's memory to interpret the raw data as commands and gestures. Here's what happens:

1. Signals travel from the touch screen to the processor as electrical impulses.

2. The processor uses software to analyze the data and determine the features of each touch. This includes size, shape and location of the affected area on the screen. If necessary, the processor arranges touches with similar features into groups. If you move your finger, the processor calculates the difference between the starting point and ending point of your touch.



3. The processor uses its gesture-interpretation software to determine which gesture you made. It combines your physical movement with information about which application you were using and what the application was doing when you touched the screen.

4. The processor relays your instructions to the program in use. If necessary, it also sends commands to the iPhone's screen and other hardware. If the raw data doesn't match any applicable gestures or commands, the iPhone disregards it as an extraneous touch.




All these steps happen in an instant -- you see changes in the screen based on your input almost instantly. This process allows you to access and use all of the iPhone's applications with your fingers. We'll look at these programs and the iPhone's other features in more detail in the next section, as well as how the iPhone's cost measures up to its abilities.

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Other Multi-touch Systems

When Apple first announced the iPhone, there weren't many multi-touch sy*stems on the market. New York University had released a dramatic demonstration video of the results of its research into multi-touch interfaces, but few such systems had made it into practical use.


In May 2007, however, Microsoft announced Surface multi-touch computer system. Surface uses cameras and light for its multi-touch interface. Surface should hit the market in winter 2007.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------


iPhone My Dream Phone
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09-03-2007, 03:15 PM

its not a dream machoo.............
n thx 4 da info!!!!!!!
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09-03-2007, 03:16 PM

thanx for info..........

IT'S MY DREAM PHONE TOO..........
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09-03-2007, 03:18 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by gayandinusha
its not a dream machoo.............
n thx 4 da info!!!!!!!
but it's not working in Sri lanka and there is a cracked version but i need the original .. and it's not comming
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09-03-2007, 03:36 PM

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09-03-2007, 03:58 PM

OMG!!! Is that how it works? I thought it works with battery (just joking...I'm sleepy )
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09-03-2007, 07:29 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anusha
OMG!!! Is that how it works? I thought it works with battery (just joking...I'm sleepy )
Thanks
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09-03-2007, 07:42 PM

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09-03-2007, 07:48 PM

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Ela Ela
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