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Apple 5s and What Comes Next
2013-09-11 23:41

Apple gets derided these days for a "lack of innovation" and "playing catch-up" to Android.

But it's tough not to play "catch-up" to a phone system that has a new phone every four weeks that's intended to be the One True Android Phone. Apple only releases one phone a year. And work on it begins immediately after the last one is released. So Apple takes its time making sure the hardware and software function together in a way that's useful and natural.

Android fans get loaded with bullet points on their box that often add up to nothing. (NFC? Facial recognition unlocking? Look away and the video pauses? Does anyone use that? Or even care to?)

As for "lack of innovation," well, the smartphone market is pretty mature now. What major overhauls to it do you think we could see these days? We're in the iterative stage now. Make them faster, lighter, thinner, stronger, etc. But they're all incremental updates. It's left to marketing from all sides to determine what the selling points are initially.

But if you look at the way the little things add up, things get a little more interesting. Apple is working on an iWatch, right? Look at what Apple has released in the last year now:

  • A new chip in the iPhone 5s (not the lower-case "s") tracks all the biometrics stuff in the background without draining the batter. It operates even when the phone is "off."

  • The new lightning port allows for smaller, thinner devices. That huge 30 pin port would not be pretty on a watch.

  • The Bluetooth chip has evolved into something that sips at power at new lower levels than ever. Frequent communication to your phone from your iWatch seems like a natural fit. BlueTooth can power it lightly.

  • A fingerprint sensor might be easier to securely unlock your phone with a small screen than trying to type four digits on it. And if that fingerprint gives you access to your passwords automatically on the small device? Saves a lot of typing on a tiny screen that wouldn't be good to type on, and where voice recognition can't handle the input. (Go ahead, try to say a proper 16 character password with lower and upper case codes, punctuations, etc.) An iWatch might still be too small for a fingerprint scanner, but who knows?

In any case, things are starting to add up in the iWatch world. While I still think it's impossible to say what they're working towards, we can start seeing the smoke from the fire. It's getting exciting. There are still huge hurdles to get over to make an iWatch a mass market product (waterproofing, separate designs for men and women,etc.), but if anyone could figure out, it's Apple....

You might also see a similar path with the Apple TV, where the recent spate of new channels is clearly leading to the need for an interface manager, and where all that activity means some kind of basic SDK is available to certain partners of Apple along the way. And those September concerts are proving Apple's ability to stream live events...

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