Why Video Won’t Happen On The iPhone

Lots of discussion about Qik and the iPhone today. As a preface, I don’t want you to think that everything is glowy and that I have drank some form of apple flavored Kool-Aid. I like Apple stuff, I have bought a ton of it. I use their stuff, I have broken it, hacked it, forced it, and on an on.  

Now, on to the big picture.

Apple does a lot of things very well. They are known best perhaps for having one of the best vertical integration systems in the world. They build the hardware, then write the operating systems, and follow up with world class software that resides on their machines so that the consumer, you and me, are never let down. There aren’t device drivers, there isn’t phantom hardware that doesn’t work, it all does, because they can control the environment where it resides. Because of this, the consumers stay happy, knowing that if it is supposed to work, it does.

iPhone Portrait iPhone Landscape

Now, enter the iPhone. Pictures are taken in two different varieties, portrait and landscape. Portrait are taken in the conventional manner of holding an iPhone, with the home button at the bottom. Landscape is taken with the phone rotated 90 degrees so that the home button is on the left or the right. Due the accelerometer in the phone, the shutter button rotates with you. The phone  knows that it is ok to rotate, and the interface changes with that. In my mind, this is the perfect solution. You should let your users know when the interaction is going to change. Hats off to the interaction designers at Apple. 

Now with video, there is are a few formats, but in essesnce, everything is shot landscape. You may shoot 16×9, 4×3, or even in a cinema format like 2.35:1. 

iPhone Video Mode
Ugly video icon, I know...

So, imagine this situation, you are at an event, and want to capture a moment of video, what do you do? Pull out your iPhone and shooting some video. You are shooting in a portrait landscape, because that is where the button is, and you can do it with only one hand. What happens when you get back to the house though? You kick start iMovie, and go to start editing, and here is your video, turned 90 degrees the wrong way.

iPhone Video Demonstration from Jake Spurlock on Vimeo.

Not that this was shot with the iPhone, but to illustrate what video would end up looking like if done with it.

So, here is my rationale, Apple has a decision to make. They have to reformat the screen for video, making it so that you are stuck shooting one way as part of the video application. The problem with this is that people want to take pictures and video at the same time. So, jumping from one framse size to another would be jarring. If they keep it like the camera app, they would get people who when they get home see that there video is all turned 90 degrees. When they load it into iMovie, it would come out that they have to rearrage all of their clips. My take, is that this isn’t going to happen. 

Now, what about Qik and other streaming applications? Do they take the video at portrait, and they rotate it? Do they make an interface that forces the user to turn the phone on the side? I don’t know, I haven’t pwned my phone yet to see the results. (Tried, but it didn’t work. If you have a suggestion, let me know.)

So, what do you think? Will we see video on the iPhone? Are we doomed to let the peeps with Nokias hog the streaming space on Qik and other sites?

Sound off in the comments.

1 Comment

  1. hmm, well even with my SRL I go portrait or landscape. It aint a iphone but taking photos and having to move the camera to that angle is just part of life! The application developers just need to detect if you are portrait or landscape 😛 have you see the ustream application (WIFI) that lets you watch streams and can deal with the flip, and it adjusts the playback to fit to screen

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