iPhone to get cheaper, better voice control, better MobileMe -- but nano a no go?

iPhone to get cheaper, better voice control, better MobileMe -- but nano a no go?

The New York Times is weighing in on the previous rumors published by Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal saying Apple may working on less expensive device with better voice control and MobileMe, but not an iPhone nano.

Apple’s engineers are currently focused on finishing the next version of the iPhone, which is likely to be similar in size to the current iPhone 4, said one of the people. The person said Apple was not planning to introduce a smaller iPhone any time soon. Analysts expect the new iPhone to be ready this summer.

Another person who is in direct contact with Apple also said that the company would not make a smaller iPhone at this time, in part because a smaller device would not necessarily be much cheaper to manufacture and because it would be more difficult to operate.

More important, a phone with a smaller screen would force many developers to rewrite their apps, which Apple wants to avoid, the person said.

An Apple executive reportedly also said it wouldn't make sense to expand the iPhone family at this time, other than continuing the practice of dropping the price of the previous year's model (like the $49 iPhone 3GS still available on AT&T). And that N97 code name reportedly for the iPhone nano? Yeah, the NYT says that was for the Verizon iPhone.

The voice commands (possibly leveraging Siri artificial intelligence?) sound especially interesting as the article suggests they'll be robust enough to replace virtual keyboards for some uses. Likewise, a more "versatile", perhaps cheaper version of MobileMe could finally allow the iPhone to lose its iTunes tether.

Google's Android platform has system-wide voice control and access to ever-growing, predominantly free Google services, so Apple will likely need to address that with iPhone 5 and iOS 5.

Anyone sad iPhone nano may not be a done deal? And does better voice control and MobileMe lessen the sting?


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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

iPhone to get cheaper, better voice control, better MobileMe -- but nano a no go?


There will be no iPhone nano because of a simple and crucial fact that I am surprised you guys haven't thought of. APPLICATIONS. There you go

Patrick, you're a twit- they mentioned apps in the article. (rewriting them is something they want to avoid)

I'm happy with the size of the currant iPhone, I would love to get the new keyboard from iOS 4.3 with Siri integration, and also mobile me could be wireless syncing. I hope mobile me becomes free, I mean yah google makes all of their serves free.

Google services are not free. See the ads they set up right next to the service? And they're reading, collecting, analyzing, everything in your email, appts, contacts, search, documents, etc ... somewhat anonymous, but do you think they don't gain from that info? Guess again

Yes they do, I forgot about that haha google takes all your info and sells it to companies and that's how they make money off the ads.

I guess this depends on definition of "Free". Do you pay for Google services? No, therefore they are indeed free for you. Are the services monetized in any way? Yes, someone pay for the adds and info, but not the users. In truth, nothing is really free, but if we follow this reasoning, we might as well abolish the word "free" from the dictionary.

Improved, systemwide voice commands would be nice, but there needs to be a faster way to invoke them - the immediacy of voice is lost when it takes 2 seconds for the device to be ready for input.

Mobile Me for free? It would be nice but I think it may be a tiered product, many functions with the "free" but there will be ads and then a pay service with more functions and hopefully no ads.
I think a less expensive phone in the Apple family would be nice, with less features or something but to add something to the line up to market against the less expensive Androids, BB's, W7's and webOS's.

Voice control is one of those things that sounds all cool and futuristic, but isn't really very useful. First, you need a quiet environment and nobody around so you don't look ridiculous. Second, even the best recognition gets it wrong enough times to make it frustrating. It's much like handwriting recognition: amazing tech, but usually more trouble than it's worth.

I use it for two things only:
1) When driving. Even autodialing favorites on the iPhone is too cumbersome to do while driving. One of the only things I miss about my blackberry.
2) When exercising. When running, riding a bike, or otherwise sweaty, I usually find less disruptive to say "Play Playlist X" then to swipe and push through the iPod app. Of course, sweat seems to be kryptonite to Apple headphones, so there is a problem there, too :)

I want a bigger screen, at least 4". If Apple releases another 3.5" screen and avoids fixing notifications I'm done with iPhones.

MobileMe has potential, for wireless syncing, but it would have to be incremental. Imagine doing a full sync over wireless. Also, it has to compete with the well established Dropbox and Google Docs for document storage. Do I want yet another cloud storage account to fragment my online files?

I've never once use voice control on any of my iPhones. The cam scrap that idea IMO. just give me mobile me for free and I'm happy... Almost. I also need a
4 inch screen, notifications re worked an a refreshed OS. like totally refreshed. If bot I by the HP Touch pad and pre3. That is all.

I don't understand what's with everyone saying they want a 4"+ screen. Anything over 4" is horrible. I remember my friend got a Dell phone that was MASSIVE and she looked pretty stupid with that thing next to her ear. She had to put it in her purse because it wouldn't fit in her pocket. Not at all functional. Not going to happen. I will ditch my iPhone if it gets any bigger than it is now.
As for voice control... It's a feature I could live without.
Revised notifications = hell yes! And I'm really hoping they waited this long for a reason.

If you kill the huge bezel at the top and bottom and trim a skosh on the side, you have a nano with a 3.5" screen.
Then you can go to a 4+" screen which has the same width, but whose height is current + height of dock button area.

4 inch should be the maximum size on the ifone. Notifications needs to be alot better. No need for ifone nano cuz they alredy sell the previous gen ifone at a deep discount. I know alot of people bought the gs aftr the ifone 4 came out!

Me: Siri, find the nearest gas station.
Siri: Turn right ahead.
Me: Siri, get me tickets to see Unknown.
Siri: Is that a movie?
Me: Yes
Siri: Available times are 2:30, 4:00, and 5:30.
Me: I'll take 5:30.
Siri: Is the Grand Palace ok?
Me: Yes.
Siri: How about dinner reservations afterward?
Me: That sounds good. I'd like Saffron at 8.
Siri: Reservation for 2 people?
Me: Yes.
Siri: Good for you. I have your movie tickets, confirmation number in your e-mail. I have your dinner reservation, confirmation number also in your e-mail. Turn left here for your gas station.

I can see that it would be harder to operate with a smaller screen, especially with texting. There could be a iPhone nano prototype, but it doesn't mean that it'll be put into production. While some people may want different types of iPhones like how there's different types of Android phones it may not be in Apple's best interest for that, then the iPhone may suffer from the fragmentation that Android suffers from and Apple has no intention of doing that.

using the expanded Voice Control provided by the jb app Voice Activator has opened my eyes... I just wish it worked as well as apple will make it when and if they decide to do this.

I actually like voice control. It works well and is quite useful at times.
It could get better though (preferably system wide)

You want REAL voice control?? Open text and read. Reply....blah, blah, blah. Send. That's voice command. To call what we have voice command is an insult to real voice command. It gets it wrong MOST of the time, and by the time you do it 2-3 times, it would have been faster to just open the phone and do it yourself. They could make the screen 4", just loose the home button. Don't know why it is there anyway. Starting to make the phone look old. We have the power button, and since Apple is "King of the Swipe" they could work a different way of getting into the phone. But, not sure what that would do to all the apps.

I want better voice commands, that's the only thing my dad's android has my iPhone beat at. I could care less about an iPhone nano. The current voice command setup is weak and since I just broke down and bought the iPhone 4 instead of waiting for them to finally release the iPhone 5 I REALLY hope that all of that will come with the iOS 5 which I can get on my current phone.