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On the eve of iPhone OS4

apple-iphone-eventSince the iPad has just been released, and since iPhone OS4 is being previewed this week, I figure I have as much of a right as anyone to guesstimate what Apple will release, not only this year, but next year as well. I can pundit as well as the next guy, and probably a lot better than most of the analysts who work for the research firms.

iPhone 4 (currently called iPhone HD)

  • I predict that the hardware itself will probably not get an incredible form factor change. It will not have a slide out keyboard, nor will it transform into a little robot complete with rocket launcher. Apple has a great design – why mess with it? I recently took my iPhone out of its protective shell (first time in over a year) and the experience of holding the thing is just incredible, even though it’s two years old. No need to mess with great. Plus if it got any bigger, people would skip the iPad for the iPhone and Apple does not want that to be a possibility.
  • I am in firm agreement with the rumors that indicate the screen will be exactly half the resolution of an iPad. Makes sense. Also makes sense that the OS will have hooks to auto-detect and auto-size apps (I believe Android has this already). Anything Apple can do to simplify development for third parties it will do. Plus it allows Apple to run a single code base for their entire iOS line. iOS – I think I’m going to trademark that.
  • I would rate the chances of a Verizon enabled iPhone at 75% within the next year. I say this because Apple is starting to reach the limits of conversion. Just about everyone who wants an iPhone has switched to AT&T, and the universe of new cell users is not growing all that fast. If Apple wants to sell millions of these puppies, they’re going to have to expand the platform. Adding Verizon will immediately give Apple access to millions of new customers. The loss of AT&T subscribers is not a big deal because they’ll still be iPhone users. Maybe they don’t make as much money per sub on Verizon, but at this point it becomes more of a numbers game and making up the profits through volume. This theory is further confirmed by the fact that there were two iPhone models mentioned in the iPad’s guts.
  • Front-facing camera? Maybe. Who cares? Are you really going to videoconference with this thing? I guess the market for amateur porn would skyrocket, and Chatroulette could have more interesting backgrounds. I’d rather hold out for a front facing camera on the iPad v2.
  • I originally thought that it would feature a faster chip with more RAM. Required to support multitasking in iOS4 (see below). However, given that the iPad is apparently running with the same RAM as the iPhone 3GS and is performing faster, maybe all they need is a faster chip. I don’t think Apple’s going to go nuts trying to slot things into the iPhone that they can’t fit into the iPad with its much bigger size.
  • The iPhone’s camera will get an upgrade, most likely to 5MP and add a flash. The motion capture rate will increase, mostly due to the faster processor. No front-facing camera, especially if that YouTube video of the supposedly new replacement screen is to be believed.

UPDATED 4/8/10 after the iPhone OS4 Release – I’ve updated the below predictions to reflect the announcements today.

iOS 4.0 (my new trademark!)

  • Multitasking will be in iOS 4. It has to be for Apple to remain a credible contender. Android is barking up their heels in certain respects, and AT&T’s slow embrace of Android phones means that Android will be able to do simultaneous voice and 3G data (who the heck thought this was not a good thing for CDMA networks to be able to do? They should be hung in effigy. I didn’t even realize this wasn’t ubiquitous. And Verizon charges you more for this crapservice? Unbelievable.) I think most everyone agrees this is coming.  OK so multitasking wasn’t announced but what was announced is the next best thing, and quite honestly a heck of a lot more sensible for a mobile OS.  Most people don’t need true multitasking, and Apple again proves that they can think outside the box.  I love this implementation of multitasking, and I hope that it’s as flexible and as powerful as I think it will be.  Will it do everything the techies might want?  No, but it will do what 99% of what the rest of the people need.
  • As much as possible, Apple is going to try to remove the hassles of having a single OS for three different multi-touch devices. The resolution change, the multitasking, the single inbox – all of these will make the iOS a seamless experience across the platforms.  Hard to tell, but I find it interesting that iPad won’t be getting OS4 until the fall.  My guess is that OS4 gets released with iPhone HD, and OS4.1 gets released in the fall to iPhone, iPad, and iTouch.
  • Enhancements to the video management features of iPad (and probably iPhone). Why Apple thinks it’s not a good idea to have video playlists in the Video app on the iPad is beyond me, but fix it dammit. I figured out that the iPad video app is the same as the iTouch’s video app, and that the core behavior of videos on the iPad/iTouch is different than on the iPhone. This is rather annoying, especially for folks who have both an iPad and an iPhone. Consistency should be the watchword for Apple now that there are three different platforms with basically the same OS. As the iPhone’s capacity increases, the ability to store more video is going to mean that it should start to match the capabilities of the iPad/iTouch.  Can’t tell yet.  Though the mention of “create playlists” says to me that some sort of change to the media management feature is coming.
  • Universal inbox and possibly multiple Exchange account support. Jobs has committed to a universal inbox, but allowing multiple Exchange connections support would allow folks to get push email from more than one source. Right now, I have three different Google Apps domains I maintain/participate in. I’d love to get all my Google Apps ID’s connected to a single inbox with push mail.  I was spot on with this.  And as far as I know, the idea of multiple Exchange boxes wasn’t really mentioned in other tech blogs so I give myself a big thumbs up here.  This will be awesome, and if they increase security, then the iPad/iPhone becomes a much more credible enterprise platform.
  • Increased security. If Apple really wants to compete against RIM, they need to make the iPad/iPhone a much more secure device. I think the iPhone was hacked in under 2 minutes at the last hacker convention? That’s just sad. Say what you will about RIM but until Apple gets a credible security model and platform, they will never be taken seriously as an enterprise platform. With the iPad, they have a real chance to break into the enterprise, but not if every noob hacker can cut their teeth screwing with their neighbor’s iPad.  Still TBD, though I’m hopeful.
  • New collapsible calendar view. Ok this is my own personal wish list, but why can’t Apple can’t do something like Palm’s “shrink non-allotted time” view of a day?  Can’t tell yet.  Might be saving this for iPhone HD announcement.
  • Overall, my guess is that iOS 4 is a refinement rather than a radical advance. There’s just not a whole lot that it’s missing once you add in the multitasking. It won’t stop the hackers from jailbreaking the devices, but it will give a lot of people like myself a lot less reason to jailbreak.  It was a pretty big step forward overall, both fine-tuning the existing platform, while significantly expanding its capabilities.  I think iOS now resumes its place at the top of the mobile smartphone pecking order, and I’m really looking forward to iPhone HD.  I will also most likely not need to jailbreak my future iPhone, since this version has just about everything I might need.  Sure, skins aren’t there, but I can live without skins.
  • Overall, I give myself a B+.  What do you guys think?

Future Apple Devices

  • iPad 3.0 will have a front facing camera. It would be inefficent for Apple to put in a front and rear facing camera, and why the heck would you even try to take a picture/video with the thing? A front facing camera will allow web conferencing. I predict that in order for this to be a possibility for iPad 2.0, Apple would have to release a version customized to AT&T and Verizon because otherwise, the load on AT&T’s network will just slam them back to square one again like the early iPhone days.
  • The iPhone will not get significantly smaller. Much smaller and it would require a customized screen resolution that wouldn’t play nice with the 2:1 scale iPhone HD is supposed to bring. Much larger and it becomes a miniPad and a lot less portable. (This is why I think Dell will fail utterly with their impending product whose name I totally forget with the 5″ screen, continuing Dell’s long chain of mobile failures.)
  • The iPod classic is going to go away by this time 2011. SSD prices keep dropping and Apple buys in such quantity that they get incredible discounts. I could see a 128GB iTouch to top out the storage line from the current 64GB. This would make sense if Apple continues to increase the iPhone’s storage capabilities and offers up an iPhone with 64GB of storage. Quite frankly, though, I think the storage is getting way past what most people need. I’m having a ton of trouble filling my iPad now and that’s after I transferred over a ton of video content. Why would I carry around a 64GB iPhone when I have a bigger counterpart to watch videos with? Music doesn’t take up that much room for most folks unless they’re storing uncompressed files. I would top out at 64GB for the iPhone and just concentrate on keeping the prices the same or lower.
  • Apple TV will be integrated into a 40″ Apple TV panel. I think they learned a lot from the 27″ iMac production process and that’s the last piece of the entertainment puzzle for Apple. I could picture a simplified iOS for a TV with just a few standard icons (or heck, they could put the whole iOS on a TV – the only issue would be mimicking touch and finger movement).

How about you guys? Think I’m crazy? Let’s hear it!

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