Science, Tech & Environment

The next generation of smartphones

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Yesterday Apple announced it was slashing the price of the current iPhone in half just as it launches a new version, which is the third new model since 2007. This comes days after Palm launches it's so-called "iPhone killer," the Palm Pre. On "The Takeaway, "New York Times" personal technology editor Sam Grobart helps us navigate the buying frenzy.

Grobart explains the growing use for these smart devices: "I think that what we are seeing is a real growth in location-based services. The idea that you have this tiny computer in your pocket that knows where you are, can get on the Internet and pull the relevant information you need for wherever you are or need to be -- so whether that's restaurant information, or movie reviews for the movies that are playing at the theater nearby, or where your friends are ...

"Knowing where you are and then giving you the opportunity to pull down any piece of data that you need is a very powerful combination."

The new iPhone 3G S has built in video capabilities, as well as the Pre: " ... and it allows you to edit video segments and post them immediately. So that is an area that we're all looking at seeing some significant growth with user created video on the spot, wherever they may be."

Grobart on what's becoming the real business with these devices: "The growth of apps has really been the interesting thing -- I mean, it's no longer just about the specifications of the hardware; it's becoming much more of a software based business, where individual developers are creating new functions for the phone. But you don't have to add anything physically to the device -- it's just something you can download ..."

As for the all important speed of the networks: "As more 3G networks, and then 4G networks roll out ... that's already happening in some cities, you'll see better video quality and faster download speeds."

And the so-called "iPhone killer," the Pre: "The Pre right now is a real competitor. Is it a blockbuster, is it an iPhone killer as many people have been speculating and suggesting? Not at this point, and who knows going forward if it will be. But ... there's room for more than one device, maybe three or four, and the Pre right now is definitely in it -- they have shaken things up a little bit, you can see Apple reacting."

"The Takeaway" is a national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what’s ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH.

More at thetakeaway.org