MacMost Now 60: Newton Versus iPhone

Gary Rosenzweig compares his old Newton MessagePad 2000 against the iPhone. The Newton had handwriting recognition and 3rd party software right from the start.

Comments: 7 Responses to “MacMost Now 60: Newton Versus iPhone”

    16 years ago

    I still have my Newton MessagePads (an MP110, MP130, and two MP2100s). I used the 2100s daily until I got my iPhone, and still use it on occasion.

    The Newton missing features I find most useful is the natural language interface (Newton Intelligence), the extensible Notepad (especially the built in outline and addon timesheet paper types), and the Office 97 compatible Works application.

    The browser and e-mail on the iPhone is so superior to what was available on the Newton, they are not in the same league. But the Newton's Address book and calendar (especially after installing some add-ons) still blows away the iPhone's equivalents (and even Leopard's versions of those apps).

    What is amazing to me is how well though out, flexible, and integrated the Newton was--and still is--and the degree to which it is still being used and even developed for.

    16 years ago

    I gave up on my Newton about 2 years ago. I still miss it. I use a Palm Tx daily but still get frustrated by the handwriting recognition. Letter by letter recognition never cuts it, even on the Newton. I gave mine up because I just couldn't sync it reliably on a PC, unfortunately the crap I have to use at work...but even on my Mac it was a little sketchy.

    I still use Hardy Macia's software Pocket Money and MPG regularly on my palm, but cut it's teeth on my trusty Newton. I forget the software now but there was a program that allowed linking between database, calendar, notes etc. I loved it! I could write a note in memos and link it to a contact and vice was brilliant and kept me way more organized.

    The only thing I have left to remember my trusted friend by is the book Defying Gravity and a box full of plastic replacement styli in multiple colors.

    Thanks for bringing back great memories for me. I can't wait for a real Newton replacement.

      14 years ago

      You mentioned an application that linked everything together, would that be MoreInfo? If it is, I still use it today! It's great. Very easy to do contact management.

    16 years ago

    Well having both devices I've got to say that I prefer the Newton. However, the iPhone's size makes it more practical. Not better! Practical.

    BTW Gary you forgot to mention the Newt's text-to-speech capability.



    15 years ago

    Thank you for your podcast. I had developed several Newton apps for years and dearly loved my MP2000. I do have an iPhone and even though I don't use my MP2000 anymore I really wish Apple would incorporate some of the BASIC Newton features into the iPhone. Of course we all know that Apple won't do that!

    I see that Cut and Paste is coming to the iPhone and that was sorely needed. I can't stand that awful word completion option that pops up when typing a word. Thankfully that can be turned off. I would like to see the Newton's version: double tapping a misspelt word would bring up a selectable list of alternate words that with a tap replaces the incorrect one.

    Of course I would love to see the Newton's HWR on the iPhone but, well you know. So since pigs can't fly and screen real estate is a problem on the iPhone it would be great if developers were allowed to create different keyboards for the iPhone. Developers made several ones for the Newton. I mean, at least add cursor arrows keys! A keyboard for entering web addresses was also created for the Newton. Pretty easy to do too. Basic keys for entering common things like 'www', '.com, '.org', etc.

    Of course there's more that can be borrowed from the Newton. I think Apple really took a step backwards in creating the Human Interface of the iPhone. It would be a shame to let all that technology and what was learned from the Newton go to waste.

    15 years ago

    It's been said that the iPhone is a great tool for the information consumer; whilst the Newton is a much better tool for the information producer.

    When you get your head around that, then it becomes clear that the two devices have quite divergent philosophical design paths. That doesn't mean to say that some iPhone users won't try to influence Apple to improve its information producer support, but clearly there are a lot more information consumers out there than serious information producers.

    I am in the Information Producer camp so: The HWR and the 6" screen are the bits that are most missed on an iPhone. Without them how can you do lengthy writing and note taking? Choosing capacitative touch screen technology essentially ruled out HWR as a pen-like stylus can't be used on it. But capacitative touch screens are much more physically robust and durable than resistive touch screens. Resistive touch screens can support sharp pointed nibs which are essential for a decent handwriting experience.

    Check out my take on whether or not the iPhone is a worthy Newton replacement on my blog:

    Cris Warren
    12 years ago

    I love my Messagepad 120 and my eMate, and am eventually going to purchase a 2000. My favorite feature of the MessagePad is the handwriting recognition. I also like the fun a quirky operating system. The device features an intelligent assist that is amazing, I don't think I could send a fax without it. All of these features make the device seem more personal and personable. I look at the iPhone, and I see a mass produced device from a company who tells you, the consumer, what you want to buy, and I look at the Newton line and see a company that cared about its customers and wanted them to be creative. The modern device is made to sell you the value of apps, but the Newton was designed to make you more productive, and sell you the value of yourself. (This is not an original thought by the way,, has the full article on why the Messagepad is not a tablet.) I like the old Apple Computer Company, Apple Inc., though it still has amazing products, has become faceless and hard to relate to.

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