Following on from WWDC, we are now moving on to Apple’s pre-holiday season Keynote. This Keynote has predominately been used to refresh the iPod Line Up, but this year it looks like we will get a bit more to chew on.
As the invitation suggests on the 12th of September the iPhone 5 will be unveiled, but what will be new?
The iPhone 5 is going to have a bigger (taller) screen compared to its predecessors (rumoured to be 1136 pixels up from 960 pixels), in real world terms this means that you can get one extra row of apps on your home screen (and hopefully and extra row of apps in app folders too!!!). These extra pixels will also mean that apps can display more content on the screen than before and I expect existing apps will be letter-boxed with black bars at the top and bottom until they have been updated to support the bigger screen (there is also Autoresizing Masks and a New set of APIs in iOS 6 that will make this easier). Thankfully as most apps’ UIs are based upon UITableViews, I expect users won’t have to wait long until apps take advantage of the larger screen. One thing that Apple could now do with the extra screen real estate, is to make notifications more interactive with buttons and simply shrink apps down to their “original size” to make room for them.
New Dock Connector
It has been nearly 10 years since Apple first released the current 30 Pin Dock Connector, and besides some minor changes (they have all been interoperable) it has remained pretty much the same ever since. Apple are set to release a new smaller symmetrical 9 Pin Dock Connector with the iPhone 5, which will be the standard for all Apple devices for the next few years. The hopeful among us are probably thinking that it will be Thunderbolt compatible, but due to the price of Thunderbolt components and Apple not really wanting you to sync with a cable since the introduction of WiFi syncing and iCloud in iOS 5, I think they are just doing it to save space. One thing that is for certain, the stocking filler this Christmas for the Geek in your life is going to be the Apple Dock Connector Adaptor.
The iPhone 5 will feature LTE, but the bigger question is will it be “World LTE” or just “American LTE” like the iPad 3. I think LTE support will go beyond the US, but it won’t be future proofed for countries such as the UK who have yet to roll out LTE.
The iPad 3 got a much bigger and higher capacity battery than the iPad 2 to cope with pushing all the extra pixels on the Retina Display and to power the LTE antennas. The iPhone 5 will also get a bigger battery to cope with pushing around those extra few pixels but mostly for the LTE antennas. I don’t imagine the higher capacity battery will result in much of a net gain in terms of battery life, but it should at least remain on par with the iPhones 4S.
NFC hasn’t really caught on, it’s the ugly sister of the QR Code and that didn’t get much attention either. For NFC to take off a major corporation needs to get behind it … like Apple … or maybe not. I think Apple only wants to support NFC, if it is NFC, so unless they start allowing you to pay for good using your Apple ID, I don’t think we will see NFC in an iOS device until/if it really takes off.
iOS 6 has been in beta since WWDC and compared to previous betas of iOS, it has actually been really stable. The only issues I have found are layout bugs, which have just been because Apple have changed the default look and feel of some controls. I don’t think we will see any additional features added to iOS 6, besides support for the iPhone 5’s new screen size and if there are any new hardware related features for developers to take advantage of. Naturally this will ship alongside the iPhone 5.
The iPod Lineup hasn’t received any significant updates for 2 years now, as last years pre-holiday keynote was all about the iPhone 4S. While I don’t expect any ground breaking changes I do expect the majority of the line up to get a refresh, but maybe they wont even make the keynote and just go straight to the press release.
The iPod Shuffle still makes a good present and it small size means that many people wear one at the gym. I expect the iPod Shuffle won’t be going anywhere, but I wouldn’t expect anything more than an update of colours.
In its heyday the iPod Nano was the “Jewel in the Crown” of the iPod line up, but now it is just an odd hybrid between iPod Shuffle and the iPod Touch. I expect it will get a minor update like the iPod Shuffle but there is not a lot they can do with it now it is just a small touch screen unless they redefine what the iPod nano is.
The iPod Classic at this point is only still available as some people have huge music collections (above the 64GB Maximum Capacity of the iPod Touch) or they still use a dedicated music device. The later use case has diminished over the last few years but people’s music collections are only getting bigger as they purchase more music at a higher capacity than bit rate than before. As the iPod Touch wont get a 160GB anytime soon I expect the classic to stick around.
The iPod touch hasn’t been updated for 2 years so it is due an update. Logically you would expect the iPod Touch to at least be brought up to par with the iPhone 4S in terms of CPU and GPU, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it doesn’t get the iPhone 5s larger screen for another year.
Personally I don’t feel like there will be any updates to the Mac line up at this Keynote. The iMac is due an update, but if it was to get an update around this event it would just be a speed bump, in other words no retina display.
The rumour of an iPad mini (7-8 inch screen) has been around for a while, but I think if it was to materialise it won’t be at this keynote as it would dilute the announcement of the iPhone 5 … maybe having this keynote in early September means they can squeeze another one in before the end of the year…