Apple iPhone in Japan – Latest news and rumors
As the Japanese launch of Apple’s iPhone surely draws ever closer, what’s the latest news leaking out about what the device will look like? By putting the news together, I can start to get a clearer idea of what it will look like and how my previous predictions may come to pass.
3G. 3G, or high-speed data transmission speeds, are absolutely essential in Japan for the Apple iPhone. This seems like a fair bet, with rumors that existing 2G shares will be sold at fire prices and sold out in the UK. However, with many eyes looking at the FCC website and its equivalents in many other countries, no one has seen an Apple device seeking approval. The approval process can take up to three months, so it looks like it will be fall before consumers can try Applie’s iPhone in Japan or anywhere else in the world. I speculate that there must be some kind of battery life or other issue delaying the launch, as there are no concrete rumors of production orders for the additional third-party hardware needed to power an iPhone 3G.
Japanese entrance. With the upcoming Apple iPhone v2.0 software, likely to be announced at Apple’s WWDC in June, many developers are getting their hands on beta versions of the software and are only too happy to leak details of what they’re finding. MacRumors, for example, has announced that the software has handwriting recognition for Chinese but not for Japanese. Although Japanese kanji and Chinese hanzi are very similar, and in fact Japanese has a much smaller set of characters in common use, the lack of Japanese writing can only be due to licensing issues; Whether that means they haven’t closed a deal yet, haven’t been able to close one, or just aren’t bothering, nobody knows.
However, the interesting news that confirms one of the requirements for the Apple iPhone in Japan that I specified earlier, namely that the iPhone, for support of the numeric keypad standard on almost all phones, introduced a soft kana keyboard. This means that to enter, say, Apple in Japanese, spell APPURU, instead of using a standard QWERTY keyboard to type APPURU and then pressing a conversion key to switch to katakana, press the kana key A once, the TA key six times to cycle TA-CHI-TSU-TE-TO-small TSU (or TA three times then make-small key), HA key three times to get HI-FU, rendaku key (same as make -small mentioned above) small key, according to the screenshot) twice to go BU-PU, then three RA to go RI-RU. Finally, a conversion key allows for the final katakana selection. Although this kana keyboard requires 16 keystrokes instead of 7 in this example, with a much larger landing area for each key, even the fattest of thumbs will have no problem typing, and almost no learning curve will be required.
Having said the above, singing the praises of their foresight, the screenshot I saw had the infamous HELLOWEEN dictionary feature that all Sony-Ericsson phones have. Type HARO in Japanese and predictive input suggests HELLOWEEN as one of the four main options. In fact, all of the predictive input seemed overzealous to suggest any words that might vaguely resemble what was being typed, regardless of each word’s frequency weighting. It is true that it is still a beta version, but behavior like that will not make the Japanese fond of Apple’s iPhone.
So a few small news snippets point to some movement East, but it seems their eyes are on China; When will Japan see the Apple iPhone?