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    Re: Celestial navigation by Smartphone
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2010 Aug 17, 21:13 -0700

    Peter, you wrote:
    "I know no more about it, in particular how well it works as a GPS unit, but do know that I would prefer a machine primarily built as a camera with GPS and other capabilities than a Smartphone with an indifferent camera and other capabilities. Can do without a camera that lets me chat. "

    You may well get your wish. It would be easy to take all the guts of a modern Smartphone (minus the phone) and mate it to a more serious camera body. I would be very surprised if there is not already, as we speak, a company preparing to launch such a device. More likely than not, it would run Android (the rapidly advancing operating system created largely by Google). Then your camera would be able to do all of the amazing things that I described previously, and also take nice photos which could be processed in various ways and then posted online right on the camera itself. This is what I was getting at -- it's a revolution and it's NOT about phones. Just ignore the "phone" in Smartphone. The revolution started in phones because there are billions of people interested in buying phones and hundreds of millions willing to buy Smartphones (which, as I say, are really "pocket computers" that just happen to be phones). I did a little unscientific survey at a bar two weeks ago. Of the twenty people present, two did not have phones and simply didn't like being "callable" all the time, four had relatively traditional mobile phones, and the remaining fourteen all had Smartphones (five Blackberrys, five iPhones, and four Android phones). Though the thought wouldn't have occurred to any of this group, every single one of those 14 out of 20 could have run sophisticated celestial navigation spreadsheets or stand-alone software on those devices. Most of them, however, did know how to get the device to listen to music playing on the radio and get it to identify that music within about thirty seconds. That's a "killer app," as they say. These things are serious computers. And as I noted previously, it's possible to get such devices with the phone either disabled or omitted by design. The most prominent example of this right now is Apple's iPad --basically a larger iPhone but with no phone-- which apparently is outselling all models of Apple's Macintosh computers at this time.

    The point for NavList: handheld computers as small as scientific calculators exist now, and they are extremely powerful devices.

    PS: A few days ago, I was reading an article in a magazine and there was a small photo of an old painting at the top which looked vaguely familiar but I didn't recognize it. So I pointed my Android device (ok, my "phone") at the page and clicked two icons. Fifteen seconds later, the device identified the painting as the "Sack of Rome" by Lingelbach and pointed me to online content about the painting and also the historical event that it depicted. That's another "killer app".

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