It has been announced that Apple will be holding an event on September 9th regarding its iPhone line. The timing on this seems about right since we’re approaching one year since the 5S was announced. A lot is expected from Apple this year because tech rumor sites have been carelessly publishing virtually everything anyone says about new iPhones and the rumored “iWatch.” Most of it is utter rubbish. The following is a collection of my thoughts after digesting about as much information as I could stomach on the rumors:
This is what many people are most excited about. Apple may very well announce some form of wearable tech. However it is highly unlikely that it will be a competitor in virtually any way to devices like the Samsung Galaxy Gear. The Galaxy Gear is about as useful as a machine that takes potatoes and turns them into cubed potatoes. Who wants cubed potatoes? Likewise, if you want a dumbed down smartphone on your wrist, I’d suggest buying an iPod Touch and the appropriate wristband.
As John Gruber pointed out on The Talk Show, the problem is that no one wants yet one more device that they have to charge daily, especially if it doesn’t do something their phone can’t already do. People are already doing that with their smartphones and sometimes their tablets and/or laptops. This is the fundamental problem with devices like the Gear and it’s the reason I don’t expect Apple’s wearable tech to include a color display. The e-ink technology seen on devices like the Kindle (or the Pebble) is much more likely. But don’t expect the screen to be as broad in its purpose as you see on current products.
The device’s screen will likely not be a touch screen. It will be a smaller display that merely shows the time and possibly a count of your notifications. I don’t expect it to be able to show much more than 15 or so characters at a time, so probably no text message previews. It will integrate with your iPhone so that the entire UI for it is on your phone. That’s where you’ll choose what notifications go to it, what notifications it ignores, and perhaps what notifications it vibrates or beeps to tell you about.
So this product won’t be a small iPhone or even really a device in its own right; it will require an iPhone for virtually all of its functionality, other than time telling. It will collect data about your body temperature, pulse, and possibly location to report to apps that you permit to access such information. I expect all of this to take place over bluetooth and very efficiently so that it will only need to be charged once a week or so.
Lastly, since Apple hired a former sales executive from a high end Swiss watchmaking company, I expect these devices to be visually stunning. They will be appear to be worth far more than whatever Apple charges for them, and there will be people who don’t own an iPhone but buy them just because they’re nice watches. There will probably be a range of styles so that jocks, hipsters, and CEO’s can each have something that fits their style. And yes, it’ll probably come in gold.
I expect this iPhone launch to be pretty exciting. It’s really hard to tell what Apple has up their sleeves. Everyone is expecting them to make a larger iPhone and they’re probably right. The two expected sizes are 4.7 and 5.5 inches, but I don’t necessarily buy into that. I think the 4.7 inch is very plausible. I held a 4.8 inch (Android) device in my hand and found it comfortable to use, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a phone around that size.
If Apple makes a 5.5 inch iPhone, I’ll expect it to have the same specs as the 4.7 (not any faster), but around double the battery life. This is because they know that people would use their mega-iPhone as a tablet. If I used my iPhone as much as I use my iPhone and iPad in a day, I know for certain that the battery wouldn’t hold up. If Apple can make a 5.5 inch phone that lasts all day under heavy usage, they could change the market pretty radically. Sure there have been Android Phablets for the past several years, but I don’t know that any of them are a viable replacement for a tablet: allowing you to read for an hour or two, take a couple phone calls, browse Facebook, watch videos, send texts, and handle email all without dying before you finish lunch.
Because this looks like an insurmountable task, I personally don’t expect to see an iPhone larger than 5 inches. They may have that up their sleeves for next year, but for now I’m thinking we’ll see something that comes in just shy of the 5 inch mark. Admittedly this is something I’m not very certain of, but it’s currently my best guess.
For some time now, iPhone CPU’s have been roughly 2x faster than their predecessors. I’m expecting they won’t disappoint this year. We’ll probably see a bump in memory to 2GB and we’ll see the CPU be 2x faster or somewhere close to it. That would, by the way, make it pretty close to being as fast as the Macbook Air from last year. The times, they are a changin’.
I imagine Apple will be announcing its new iPads at this event or at an event shortly thereafter. The changes they’ve made to their web-page rendering engine make the iPad that much closer to being a laptop replacement. With these new iPads, I expect them to go even further.
It’s been discovered that iOS 8 seems to leave a lot of room for adding split screen multitasking. If you were to download Xcode 6 Beta, you’d also see that you have the option to simulate a custom-sized device screen. I suspect this is related to either letting users run iOS apps on their Mac, or letting users multitask on their iPads. My money is on the latter.
Before anyone says that Samsung got there first, let me point out that Android devices often get features first. They also often do things before the hardware can handle it smoothly. I’m sure Apple has with each iOS release evaluated multitasking on iPad, but decided with each release that the hardware just isn’t fast enough for a smooth experience yet. But again, the A8 processors will likely compete with Macbook Airs. The A7 processors are pretty fast too, outpacing high end computers from 2010. I truly would not be surprised to see Apple add split-window multitasking in something like iOS 8.1 and announce it this fall.
That said, it will work pretty different from multitasking on your computer. I expect it will have something to do with gestures used while using the app switcher. Perhaps pulling down on an app will mark it for multitasking. Once you mark a second app, the two would be shown in split window with a handle in the middle that allows you to adjust the space each one gets. A similar sequence would be used for splitting apps.
If this is the case, I expect aggressive marketing on Apple’s part to point out that iPads genuinely can replace laptops for a lot of people. The Microsoft Surface tries to do this, but the form factor of those devices has never lent itself to more tablet-like things, like eBook reading. The iPad could do both well.
All these theories kind of fit together. The iWatch comes out so you don’t have to fiddle with your iPhone quite as much. That means the iPhone can get bigger and replaces some of what you use a tablet for. The iPad then becomes more useful and starts to replace your Macbook Air or Windows computer. This would leave the Macbook Air almost replaced by the iPad, but Apple is probably okay with that. They’ll either make it bigger and drop the Macbook Pro 13 inch, or drop it all together and lower the price on the aforementioned 13 inch Pro.
I’m no expert and I don’t pretend to be one. From what I’ve seen from Apple in the past, the above is what I would expect from them in the future. But they’re a very adaptive company who genuinely cares about giving their users a good experience. Apple may ignore everything I think they’re going to do and that’s fine. Whatever they do, I’m excited to see what it is.