Apple has begun their direct email campaign for the iPhone 3G S saying:
Phone 3G S features a remarkable new video camera and hands-free Voice Control. It's a revolutionary phone, a great widescreen iPod, and a breakthrough Internet device in one. And it opens up a whole new world of applications. All that and more makes it the best iPhone yet.
It's that second to last sentence that drew our attention. New world of applications? What does that mean for the old world? More after the break...
Up until now, pretty much every application released for the iPhone worked on all models of the iPhone, 2G and 3G. Sure, 3G had GPS where 2G did not, but thanks to CoreLocation, apps could fall back on cell tower triangulation or Wi-Fi router mapping to get by.
Things are a bit trickier when we include iPod touch, as both generations also lack GPS (but have Wi-Fi router mapping at least) and a built in microphone (though a headset mic will get you by), the first gen lacks Bluetooth (3.0 will unlock the previously hidden Bluetooth in the second gen), and the second gen adds Nike+.
iPhone 3G S also adds Nike+, to the aforementioned video recording and voice control, along with faster processors, accessibility options like VoiceOver, faster processors, and the digital compass.
Video will still downgrade to still camera, voice control to physical screen taps, and the digital compass to accelerometer and CoreLocation voodoo, and the faster processor to, well, slower processing. But the question becomes, when will the differences be enough?
So far we haven't seen developers or users have to worry too much about app compatibility between devices, but at some point that will change more significantly. For example, if some developers -- especially game developers -- start targeting the faster processors to get better quality games, will that encourage users to upgrade to the latest hardware or just p!$$ them off?
It'll happen eventually. One year Apple will release a future iPhone that's so different from the original iPhone 2G that -- like with the Mac today -- we'll see "only compatible with..." start to appear even on iPhone OS firmware. Heck, Apple already says iPhone 2G and iPhone 3G hardware are different enough that they're not devoting resources to putting MMS or A2DP Stereo Bluetooth on the original iPhone.
Is iPhone 3G S one more step down the platform splitting path?