Friday, August 12, 2011


Every year, almost like clockwork, Apple releases new products.  People go temporarily mad, their stocks shoot through the roof and they make another few hundred million dollars.  This predictability has led to the futile but fun game I like to play called…


Sometimes there are leaks.  It IS fair to use those as your guesses because they have been sporadically unreliable.  It’s more fun though if you expand on the concept with some sort of interesting and cool little tweak.

Concept that with a border, is possible.
Every year around the same time, their current hardware is “refreshed.”  Its fun to imagine what new features will be included in the updated iteration.  This year however things have changed.  The iPhone 4 is a great but flawed device.  The form factor has a nice looking but critical antenna design flaw.  When your skin makes contact with it, you dramatically lose reception in low reception areas.  It does cause calls to drop.  A simple $5 case will solve this problem.  (Or a little sticker.)  Still, when you pay a couple of hundred dollars for tech, you don’t want it to have ANY simply resolved problems like those.

I believe the iPhone 5 will be this.
Historically, Apple keeps any major updated design changes for a few generations.  They upgrade the internal hardware but keep roughly the same form factor.  (iPhone 3G/3Gs)  The most recent and drastic change was the iPhone 4.  An interesting thing happened this year though.  The refresh did not fall on the expected update schedule leaving a window for many things.  The complaints about the antenna were pretty loud.  So much so that Apple even held a special event to “explain” (read:spin) and give away free cases.

It also happened that the last refresh period for large capacity iPod classic was skipped last year.  This could be to the plummeting relative sales.  Still a successful product but no longer the company flagship it used to be.  All of these events lead me to this blog topic.

That information, though bleak, is very exciting for people like me who like to contemplate the possibilities.  The lack of interest in an old favorite to me spells "new product."  Apple needs something fresh to excite their customers and their board members.

More like the 3G/3Gs which was comfortable to hold.
They created the iPad and that is still selling like mad.  Many media outlets online are suggesting the iPad 2S will be released.  A “pro” version if you will with the higher resolution (Retina Display) we expected with the original sequel.  The iPhone 5 is past due and I do think that will also be announced but I really don’t think it will be a major overhaul.  The shape may be dramatically different, hence the delay, but functionality wise I don’t believe it will stray too far from the current iPhone 4.  Perhaps an iPhone 4S with "4G" support?

Tapered but still iPhone 4 antenna.
One of the best things about the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad are the apps you can use to edit your photos.  In the iPhone 4's case, it takes some amazing pictures for being a mobile phone.  I have a DSLR I use at home and I’m not kidding you when I say that under certain circumstances, the quality of the images produced by the iPhone can be equivalent.  The resolution is a lot lower than a DSLR without a doubt but the convenience and the integrated apps make it a much more pleasant experience for amateur photographers like me.  The seamless geotagging also makes it really interesting and convenient.  Geotagging with DSLR's is still a bit of a hassle.

At times I’ve found myself wishing that I had those tools on my computer so I can upload the images from my DSLR and quickly edit them without having to boot up Photoshop (or even have to buy it again.)  These free to 99 cent apps do the job just fine.  Some of the highest selling apps in the app store are photography programs.  I don’t believe Apple will ignore this fact.

I really liked this concept.
One of the biggest limitations of the iPhone 4 is the lens.  It takes some of the best cell phone photos already.  The only thing that could make them better is a bigger/higher quality lens.  Is that an option?  How could they do that?

My guess is that they won’t.  They will slightly improve the iPhone camera but will spin off a new product from the success of that feature.

My bet is that the next Apple product will be a point and shoot camera that runs iOS.

It’s nice that they have a product that does everything.  The iPhone is an internet device, a phone, a camera, an iPod, a flipcam type portable video and internet radio.  When it comes to photos (and video) they have really hit a ceiling.  There is only so high they can go before a nicer lens becomes necessary.  One with zoom for example would be really convenient.

I believe (hope) an iOS camera will be announced next month and here are some of the capabilities I think they should include.

  1. GPS for Geotagging.
  2. Zoom lens.  Probably Carl Zeiss.
  3. Expandable memory for more photos.  (They don’t want this in iPod/iPhone products but a camera would be ok.)
  4. Flash.
  5. Multi-Touch screen.
  6. No optical viewfinder.  (They ‘d want to push their iOS control.)
  7. iOS app support.
  8. Wi-Fi.  (How else would it support AirPlay?)
Apparently I'm not the only one who thought of this.
A quick search for Apple Camera images displayed a bevvy of other fan concepts.  The one above from Mac Life is most like what I envision.  Something small, something simple.  An entry level device with a telescoping zoom lens.  We shall see.

That’s my bet.  What’s yours?

(UPDATE:  There are rumors of an entirely new product line.)