A Look Inside the iPhone 3G Crystal Ball! Countdown to WWDC Predictions
Monday we asked you "What's the iPhone 3G Chip and When Will it Ship?". Tuesday it was "What is the iPhone 3G Going to Look Like?". Wednesday brought "What Surprises Will There Be in the iPhone 2.0 Software & Services?". Thursday questioned "What 3rd Party iPhone SDK Apps Will Be Available Launch Day?" Friday we ended with "What Will the iPhone 3G's Hardware Features Be?"
Now we're done with the HUGE roundups. The epic's over. And it's time to be honest here: roughly 0.01 seconds after Steve Jobs pulled the first iPhone from his pocket back at Macworld 2007, and it was us at TiPb who put aside our childlike sense of wonder long enough think: "Nice! What's the next gen going to be like?" And we've been thinking about it ever since!
Complementary, contradictory, obvious, confusing, all but confirmed or from left field via outer space, the rumors have flooded the internet and we've done our best to keep track of them all.
Just two days from today Steve Jobs takes Moscone Center stage for the sold-out WWDC keynote, and according to everyone and their newsfeed, announces the iPhone 3G. In eager anticipation, every day this week, TiPb asked you to tell us what you think the next generation iPhone will be, from 3G to GPS, release dates to price points, colors to casings, 2.0 software to
.Mac .Me services.
Now it's TiPb's turn.
So come on, let's get in on!
WWDC -2 and Counting: A Look into the iPhone 3G Crystal Ball
iPhone 3G. iPhone Black. Second Generation iPhone. iPhone (2008). What'll it be called?
Of course. Apple is all about the simplicity. The Zen. Tech support and refurbished sales will call it the iPhone mid-2008 (or something to that effect), but for Steve and the rest of us, it'll be called the iPhone.
Despite Intel's eagerness and its existing presence in the Mac, Atom just doesn't seem ready for primetime yet. Likewise, the curveball that was the PA Semi PowerPC purchase would take another generation or two of development at least before it has anything real-world to add to an iPhone class device. Infineon already provides the current generation iPhone's brain, and Foxxcon/Hon Hai already put it all together, and I personally don't see that changing any time soon.
Maybe iPhone 5G will be an Intel Quad-Atom with PA Semi co-cores, but iPhone 3G will be an Infineon S-Gold-3. HSPA, and not the weak-sauce certain-regions-only HSPA. This'll be the kind that works in all the markets the iPhone has been announced for.
If there's anyone left on the planet who doesn't think Steve Jobs will announce the iPhone 3G during the WWDC Keynote, it could only be Jobs himself, acting on insider info. Everyone else considers it a done deal. But shipping date is trickier. While all those boxes popping up everywhere would make an immediate release possible, Apple has time and again proven themselves masters at manipulating the press cycles, and anything that didn't allow for a period of intense media buildup -- and the millions in free advertising that comes with it -- seems unlikely.
Casing and Form Factor
Bigger. Smaller. Thicker. Thinner. Fatter. Skinnier. If the rumors could run 10 dimensions they certainly would. 3G, GPS, and the ever-increasing demands for ever-increasing talk times make a bigger iPhone for a bigger battery likely. But Apple prides itself (to the point of Air-style feature folly at times) on its ability to ship razor thin product. Could it split the difference -- and the product line -- and release both an iPhone Nano and a beefier iPhone Pro?
Aluminum, glass, and glossy black define the current iPhone, but with antenna demands favoring plastic, and consumer phones being susceptible to more fashion trends than high end computers, could Apple do an iPod Classic-like black and white? Toss in a (Red) for U2? How about matte or glossy?
The risk-taker wants to go for the gusto and say iPhone + iPhone Nano in blond, brunette, and redhead. But Apple tends to do things in a certain sequence: 1) Revolution, 2) Tweak, 3) Evolution, 4) Tweak, 5) Revolution. We can go from long-neck iMac to White all-in-screen in one leap, but it takes a proc-bump, PowerPC to Intel transplant, and more-proc bumps in between before we get to Aluminum iMac. Likewise, the iPhone has already had its 16GB tweak, so by my timeline, we get evolution next: iPhone Black, with high manufacturing quality, super fit-and-finish black plastic, matt finish back, and glossy front with a slightly less trimmed and less rounded shape.
As to size, it will be both thicker and thinner. No, not Nano and Pro, but like the MacBook Air where clever design makes it seem thinner than it is. 22% thinner at the edges, maybe, but a lot more curve to the back, with a little reshuffling of width and height, will give the room for more juice under the hood.
Is it even fair to call this a prediction, what with 6 beta firmware releases and more deep code inspections than you could shake an iPhone at? Sure, Apple could have been holding something back. Apple could surprise us. But will they?
I don't see much with SMS or MMS. The iPhone will be part of an ongoing trend away from phone-specific protocols towards universal, and more computer-like, and more standards-based systems behind them. They'll eventually remove the device-lock and let us send anything to anyone anywhere, regardless of provider or platform. Sure, legacy users, people who grew up with interim technologies, will be upset, but Apple has historically not given this flying forethought.
Bye bye floppy, bye bye CD, bye bye MMS.
Hello Mobile iChat.
And this is where push gets shoved in as well. Messaging, calendaring, and tasks with instant accessibility. ActiveSync will cover this for corporate users, and the new (I can't believe I'm going to call it this!) MobileMe will cover consumers. It won't be competitive with Google or even the full range of Microsoft Live services yet, but Apple knows how big the cloud will be in the future, and MobileMe will be the foundation they want to build their own services on.
We'll also get over the air data sync for push users of any flavor, with Bonjour-style (zero-config for Windows users) WiFi sync for media. (Hey, I can dream for now but it'll be in 2.x sometime!)
YouTube, as an app, may remain, but will get subsumed by MobileSafari's plugin. Likewise Weather and Stock widgets, maybe not in 2.0 but in 2.x, will merge with WebClips and become more like the dashboard, where users can choose their own, still Stocks and Weather for some, Movie Listings and Wikipedia for others.
Notes will get some much needed love, integrating into the MobileMe offering the way they do on the OS X desktop Mail.app. Synced at last. And To Do's at last. Thanks to Jobs almighty, full PIM functionality at last!
MobileMail in general will get its mass move, mass delete fix on. Unified inbox, though I wants it, probably won't show up (Apple has a history of leaving out one or two things just to drive us crazy, after all), unless competition with RIM really drives them. And the ActiveSync/MobileMe updates will, of course, be included, as they will in Calendar, and the To Do applet.
No Flash. No Java. No Silverlight. But maybe, just maybe, iTunes iController integration for not only interfacing with Front Row or the Apple TV, but browsing and "get info"-ing streaming content as well. iPhone Wi-Fi remote FTW.
Settings for all the above, and especially all the business features already shown, will be present and accounted for, including the ability to toggle off (or more likely switch from automatic to off) battery-hungry functions like 3G.
Big news: Cut and Paste! But shown only briefly, as a minor toss-away during one of the demos. "Here I'll just cut and paste some text into this awesome new Mobile iChat..."
And, of course, we'll get the App Store...
Third Party Apps
This here is the tricky one. There are always less brilliant engineers around than you need, and Apple probably doesn't have enough to really do everything they want, when they want it. Depending on key software houses to get apps ready on time can be even worse (how long was it for Microsoft and Adobe to go Universal Binary again?).
Apple will certainly want some real killer apps -- the kind that sell platforms -- ready for its Keynote (probably whether they're actually ready to download come launch day or not). Some will probably be big names, and come as a total surprise, as will many smaller apps actually being ready but not given the spotlight...
Confession: this is the real wild-card category. Developing for a new platform ain't easy, even if you're a seasoned Mac veteran. Bugs pop up and deadlines slip. But we promised you predictions, so here they are:
John Carmack debuts a 3D game that, while still in beta, gives Sony's PSP division a collective heart attack. EA and Sega likewise show off Nintendo DS-inspired fare, but its an indie game house out of nowhere, finally clear of NDA, nails the platform with some touch accelerometer revolution that really blows the interwebs away.
Apple shows off Mobile iLife and hints at a future Mobile iWork for iPhone OS X, while a dozen or so other "office apps" flood YouTube with their demos. And just to prove how trendy they are, Apple has some big uber-Social Network apps on display while at the same time delaying Twitteriffic long enough to get a full page diatribe out on DaringFireball.
And from the outlandish, madcap, could never happen dept.: Gates-like on the big screen, and direct from Waterloo, RIM CEO Mike Lazaridis appears to announce BlackBerry Connect for the iPhone...
Apple dropped the collective smartphone industry's jaw with the original iPhone specs demoed at Macworld 2007, and they'll be gunning to top that.
While I'm hoping for an HD screen at 480p (heck, 720p, but I'm a realist!), unless developers have all been doing resolution independence from the get go, or Apple has nailed them some scary-good upscaling, we may just be stuck with the same display. Still, I'm closing my eyes, lowering my head, and running full steam at the VGA 640x480 wall.
The camera will get a minor bump, somewhere between 3 and 4 megapixels, but Apple will have improved the software from terrible to only mildly disappointing (sorry Aperture team!). There will be a tiny front facing camera buried amid the other sensors, but only enabled for European and Asian markets that aren't stuck in as shameful a technological backwater. When AT&T announces video conferencing on par with 2005 Japanese initiatives, Apple will turn on Mobile iChat AV for everyone (but especially for Kevin Rose).
Flush headphone jack FTW!
Very little in the way of Bluetooth enhancements, and no good reason for it, again to give the interwebs something to complain bitterly about (and give Apple something to add as a future update that should have been there all along). But we will get Wireless N, because the rest of Apple's line has moved that way, and Apple's engineers will want the network clean, dangit!
Storage-wise, we'll get the bump to 32GB, allowing for a 64GB iPod Touch (which has twice the space for NAND chips as the radio-clogged iPhone).
Finally, GPS will be built in as a feature Maps, Camera, and other Apps can request, but that isn't always on. However, there's always a chance El Jobso will again want to torture the user-base by releasing it as a dock-dongle instead... (thanks a lot, MacBreak Weekly!)
One More Thing
Will it be the iPhone Nano? iFlip? Nope. The current iPhone will coast along as the low end for a bit. iTablet? Nope. That's be shown off at a special event later in the year and released at MacWorld. New laptops or OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard? Maybe, but only in passing. Apple won't want anything to steal the iPhone's thunder. Will it be the near constant and colossal number of Engadget page-refreshes taking down multiple AOL datacenters and as Steve Jobs gets ready to break the Internet again? Well, that's a given, but it's not the One More Thing.
Chad dropped it like a bomb during the Phone Different podcast, and Dieter's fleshed it out further since then. The one more thing will be this:
With so many countries and carriers announcing the iPhone, how will iTunes handle the activation? Simple: you buy your iPhone 3G for whatever the Apple Store charges and when you go to activate it, iTunes detects your country and offers you a rebate (down to free in the UK, rumor has it!) if you sign a long term contract. If you don't, you just get activated at full price, contract-free.
Sound crazy? Maybe. And sure, some carriers have talked about retaining exclusivity or sharing co-exclusivity. But they've also talked about non-exclusivity as well. Let's face it, millions of iPhone's are already unlocked and in the wild, and Apple has a history of DRM, Apple TV Take 1, and other "Awe, shucks, now we'll listen to our users" Jobs-a-culpas. Here's their chance for a doozy:
So there we go, now it’s our turn -- all of our turn -- to wait.
But while you're waiting, don’t forget to head over to our iPhone Blog’s super Wait-a-Thon spectacular where you could win an iPhone 3G of your very own, whatever it looks like, on the very day it’s released!
And join us back here on Monday for TiPB's Live Color Commentary Blog!
Go back and read Part 1: What's the iPhone's 3G Chip and When Will it Ship?
Go back and read Part 2: What’s the iPhone 3G Going to Look Like?
Go back and read Part 3: What Surprises Will Be in iPhone 2.0 Software & Services?
Go back and read Part 4: What 3rd Party iPhone SDK Apps Will Be Available Launch Day?
What Will the iPhone 3G's Hardware Features Be?