What Apple does next – iPhone 5 (2/3)
Prediction: Bigger screen, new form design, NFC and iOS 6! Coming July 2012.
Many were disappointed last year when – after delaying the usual cycle of release – Apple delivered an incremental upgrade to the iPhone 4 instead of a widely anticipated total refresh in the form of the iPhone 5. As a result Apple is now edging in on 24 long months since the last true hardware refresh.
With the current crop of Android Ice Cream Sandwich phones closing in on Apple dominance, 2012 needs to be a year of big things if they wish to keep the iPhone’s current place at the top of the mobile phone food chain.
There is little doubt that Apple will follow recent Android devices with the introduction of a bigger screen, though it probably won’t chase behemoths like the HTC Sensation XL or Samsung Infuse 4G (at 4.7 and 4.5 inches respectively). More likely, Apple will settle on a 4 inch model, half-an-inch (or 20%) larger than the current iPhone 4 screen.
Alongside an upgraded screen Apple will also make some stylish changes to the device design.
Following in Nokia’s footsteps with the N9, Apple will finally realise Steve Jobs vision and rid itself of the iPhone home button giving the new iPhone a streamlined front-face.
Apple will also take advantage of the extra case real estate, pushing the screen edge-to-edge.
Also a near certainty is the inclusion of Near Field Communication (NFC) on the device.
NFC is finally starting to see market penetration and would open up a potential second wave gold-rush for app development the phone. No need to carry around your credit card or train pass – simply load up the app and tap your phone to pay or validate.
NFC also opens Apple up as a potential giant in the payments game.
While Amex and Visa may seem the obvious benefactors from widespread adoption of NFC, people forget that Apple has quietly amassed the worlds single largest collection of credit card details (via users iTunes accounts and Apple IDs).
Apple has already nailed a micro-transaction system (how many 99c apps do you think they sell everyday?), and soon you might discover that alongside your debit and credit cards, you can also use your Apple ID to pay for everything from your morning coffee to a new car.
While hardware is an important consideration, in the maturing mobile phone market faster processors and bigger screens are only carrying new phones so far. Lucikly for Apple, the iOS operating system is where they really shine. iOS 6 will see some usability improvements helped along by the more powerful A6 processor under the bonnet.
Expect to see:
- Re-worked true multitasking
- Siri integrations across third party apps (think: “Yelp, any suggestions where to go for lunch?”)
- Glanceable notification via icons (live weather updated without resorting to the dashboard or app itself)
- Location aware interactions (when I enter this café, check me in via Foursquare)
One of the biggest shifts under iOS 6 will be the start-of-the-end of Google and Apple’s relationship.
What started as a joining of enemies-of-enemies against a common cause (Microsoft) this partnership has now morphed into something far more twisted and complicated since Android burst onto the scene. Apple wants rid of Google, and the first app to benefit from this de-coupling will be the current maps service.
Late last year it was announced that Apple had acquired C3 Technologies. These guys use spy plane technology to generate ultra-realistic 3D maps of the world. This technology, coupled with the increased processing power of the iPhone 5 would introduce a totally new map experience miles ahead of what is currently possible.
With C3, Apple will not only have access to gorgeous 3D maps, but also the ability to overlay information such as traffic, tweets, and Wikipedia entries.
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