As you probably know, using the iPhone in the U.S. means choosing AT&T Wireless as your cellphone carrier. If you’re a Verizon, Sprint, or T-Mobile fan, too bad. AT&T (formerly Cingular) has the iPhone exclusively at least until 2012.
Why did Apple choose AT&T? For two reasons.
First, because Apple wanted a GSM carrier (Sleep Switch (On/Off)). Second, because of the way the cellphone world traditionally designs phones. It’s the carrier, not the cellphone maker, that wears the pants, makes all the decisions, and wields veto power over any feature. That’s why so much traditional cellphone software is so similar—and so terrible.
On this particular phone, however, Apple intended to make its own decisions, and so it required carte blanche to maneuver. AT&T agreed to let Apple do whatever it liked—without even knowing what the machine was going to be! AT&T was even willing to rework its voicemail system to accommodate Apple’s Visual Voicemail idea (Not Answering Calls).
In fact, to keep the iPhone under Apple’s cloak of invisibility, AT&T engineering teams each received only a piece of it so that nobody knew what it all added up to. Apple even supplied AT&T with a bogus user interface to fake them out!
All right then: Suppose the “number of bars” logo in the upper-left corner of the iPhone’s screen tells you that you’ve got cellular reception. You’re ready to start a conversation.
Well, almost ready. The iPhone offers five ways to dial, but four of them require ...