Friday, September 23, 2011

The Merits of the iPhone 4S

05/10/2011 UPDATE: Now, that the "Lets Talk iPhone" event has passed, I cannot be more than happy with this post. I have however touched up the formatting of the article a bit since the original was written on the iPhone Blogger app by Google.

Despite all the teardrop iPhone cases it seams Apple's 5th iPhone will be the iPhone 4S.

As the Apple geek among my friends I get asked each year;

  • Is the next iPhone worth it? 
  • Isn't just an internal hardware refresh going to be a disappointment?

The answers actually come down naturally if we answered the following bigger questions first:

  • How to rate products in a comprehensive way and 
  • How to do so about as yet unreleased product?

I have come up with a new comparison metric that suggest that Apple has increased the pace of iPhone innovation that will surely correspond in comparable increase in adoption.

I call it an Upgrade Rating. 

It's not stars and it's not X/10. It's much more flexible and easy to make sense of. It reduces complex comparison charts down to a single number on the scale of -10/10 (yes, that's -10). But in short, it give you an idea of how better the new iPhone is compared to the last years model.

Here is how all iPhones compare to their immediate predecessor. The baseline is a 2006 smart phone:

  • 2007 iPhone:  5
  • 2008 iPhone 3G: 6
  • 2009 iPhone 3GS: 6
  • 2010 iPhone 4: 7
  • 2011 iPhone 4S: 8

With a rating of 7, it is quite obvious why the iPhone 4 is still the top selling smartphone on any carrier that sells it, 15 month after it started shipping first. Steve Jobs was right when he called it an A+ upgrade in 2010.

But why does the iPhone 4S scores 8, while it allegedly keeps the same design?

Since products can sometimes do worse than their predecessors, I have decided on a rating system that give points from -2 to 2. This system aggregates all meaningful comparison metrics into 5 general categories, giving any device a maximum score of 10.

Here is a bit about the each category.

It matters if the devices looks deferent, unique or if it's made from quality materials. Design will be the first thing people notice and remember about a product. While not immediately invisible how, a design implies how advanced a product is.

While touchscreen smartphones are all about software, having a chip to makes that UI smooth or a sensor to give those apps data is crucial. Not to mention a high dpi quality multitouch screen.

Software is the new hardware. We use to buy different gadgets different tasks but now we just buy apps for the same device. What our phones cab do is now mostly determined by the software it runs and how other it is updated.

Can you afford the phone? It is actually available at all in your country or on your carrier. For all other manufacturers these might be issues of the past but Apple iPhone is still the physically and financially out of reach many for people in the world.

This is iPhone Ace up its sleeve. While other manufacturers will claim device variety, the 2 physically different design Apple is selling since 2008 have created an incredible ecosystem of accessories. The iPhone has become a physical platform too.

Here is how the comparison looks for all iPhone models so far and the 4" and the 4.5" screen teardrop iPhone speculations I have called iPhone 6 & iPhone 6 Pro.

Common sense will will tell you why the previous iPhones got the points they did but here's why the iPhone 4S gets 8 points:

Nothing new here. Apple is expected to preserve the extremely cool looks of the iPhone 4.
0 points

Completely new internals. The A5 system on a chip from the iPad 2 with dual core CPU and several time the graphics power. 1GB RAM, 64GB flash storage. 8MP camera with supposedly much better image sensor. 1080p Video. Support for both GSM and CDMA and probably faster WiFi too. Even a possible NFC chip. That's the biggest performance jump of any iPhone model to date.
2 points

iOS 5 is the single most comprehensive update. iCloud integration out of the box will be no less important too. But the new Assistant feature is likely to be the biggest software innovation and exclusive to the new model. Camera app extras around the new sensors are expected too.
2 points

The iPhone 4S will be the first world iPhone. Apple will be able to sell a single antennae configuration everywhere. Also in addition to Sprint in USA, this year iPhone is expected to be available to the two biggest carriers in the world. Both are in China. Expect an even faster launch rollout this time.
2 Points

Unlike last year, the iPhone 4S will start with the largest compatible accessory selection for any new iPhone so far. In addition, pretty much all important app now have Retina display support. On launch day, this is the most supported iPhone ever.
2 Points

With an upgrade rating of 8,  iPhone 4S promises to be have an even bigger impact on the market than the iPhone 4.

Come Tuesday 4th October, there will be many people who will be disappointed if Apple does not release a new "teardrop" design. That's fine. They obviously do not see the big picture.

The teardrop shape floating around will be lighter and score 2 points on Design but it will not fare as well in Reach and Ecosystem categories. I also do not see, how Apple will be able to fit an 8MP camera module into a much slimmer body. How about support for both GSM and CDMA with an aluminum back? It may turn that Apple will be forced to make significant compromises if it tried to fit the iPhone 4S internals into a much slimmer design. If on the other hand the design is much larger, as the cases suggest it boasts a 4.5 screen, the price will likely go up and reduce Reach even further.

At the end of the day I believe Apple has made the right choice to build upon an existing foundation, rather than start fresh with a new design.

P.S. if Apple is to release a new teardrop iPhone along the iPhone 4S, it cannot call it iPhone 5 as it will be the 6th iPhone.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tips for great iPhone Homescreen Looks

Ever since I got my iPhone 4 I have been trying to figure out how best to organise my Apps and what Apps to leave. Please see the for the beautiful results I achieved bellow.

Here are my basic tips:

  1. Use only folders. Don't leave any single apps, no matter how often you access them.
  2. Use folder names as close to the Categories Apple uses the App Store.
  3. Use as little number of folders ass possible. See some of my suggestions
  4. Use only grayish wallpapers. Forget colors and even strong black or white ones
  5. Put the folders where the main stock App in them was located.
  6. Sort the apps inside according to color tones, so they look like rainbow.
  7. If you have more than 9 apps per folder, gett the better ones on top

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Real-Life iPad 2 vs Competition Chart

So Engaged did this chart shortly after the iPad 2 announcement.
Same old same useless PC comparison chart for Post PC devices. They really don't get it even after 10 years of iPod sales in which Apple came to dominate the market for mp3 players. You could always find a better specked mp3 player than the iPod but did that matter in the real life? NO.

Now, Apple had drawn the line in the sand about what it considers a PC and Post-PC device and what they think important about the later.

So to clear up things up abut the iPad 2 and its competitors I will make a chart of my own that answers the Post-PC questions coming from regular people, not tech-geeks.

Some of the answers I obviously had to make up based only on a educated guess. For example, WebOS while never been into consumer's hands on a tablet has proved to be easy to use on a smartphone, contrary to any RIM smartphone OS so far.

RIM does not have distribution centers and partners like HP does, only carrier deals, so they are unlikely to offer a tablet without some sort of contract. HP is much more like Apple, in a sense that they can distribute their own products.

Neither HP, RIM or even Palm have recently demonstrated great hardware of software support in a way Apple does.

No smarthphone has come anywhere near close to the iPhone's battery life. Don't expect anything different from the iPad competitors especially if they are integrating Flash and in general legacy software we are used to on the desktop.

And without an actually product first shipped, it will not be realistic to expect any significant 3rd party programs of any class to be available at launch or for months after for either platform but Apple's. The iPad had a 1 year head start. And even then most apps will likely be ports of apps already available on iPad. No developers with a grain of common sense will support any other platform with priority to iOS. That goes for accessory manufacturers alike.

You know Engadget, your editor in chef has a great piece recently. Unfortunately the light bulb has only switched on in his head for now. I wam waiting to see it trickles in into all your staff articles.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

iPad 2 Prediction: ThunderPORT

[UPDATE] There new iPod dock connector does support higher bandwidth and new functionality. There is even a new cable accessory with the new port on the other end. But alas it's not Thunderbolt.

Later today, Apple will introduce the iPad 2. Most best revolve around the technical and performance specs. I would like to bet on a certain implementation of a certain technology.

Last week, Apple introduced the new Macbook Pros with the new Thunderbolt port. Ever since that I had an idea at now Apple could avoid the Firewire vs USB battle that it lost for the common connector standart on computers.

With Thunderbolt Super High Speed port, Apple has second chance to help establish a new common connection standart and force replacement of most connectors we use today: USB, Firewire, HDMI, Display Port, Ethernet. I don't think they plan to replace the 3.5 mm audio jack anytime soon

In the last battle vs the USB standart from Intel, Apple required too high a licence fee/royalties for the use of the Firewire standart. Manufacturers adopted the cheap USB connector instead even though it was inferior in most ways.

Now Apple in its eternal quest to simplify things, get rid of useless port and make ever thinner products has put it crosshairs on USB and Firewire. There port even in their latest and greatest implementation do not seam to provide enough of growth potential and features for use in Apples future roadmap.

So, for the past 1-2 years or more, Apple has worked with Intel on the next generation of Super High Speed Standart - codenamed Light Peak as prototype and Marketed as Thunderbolt in its final implementation. Apple has really learned its lesson here. Make no mistake, this is Intel's standard, no Apple's. But even partnering with the most important chip manufacturer in the world will not win the battle against an entrenched USB standart. For Thunderbolt to win vs USB 3.0 it will have to out-adopt it. But USB 3.0 is already out and Apple will be the only computer licensee of Thunderbird in 2011.

How can Apple's Thunderbird win the battle against USB 3.0 for mindshare of consumers, device & accessory manufacturers and software developers? An almost rhetorical question: By including Thunderbolt capability in its most mindshare winning products: the Mac (March), the iPad (April), the iPhone (June) and the iPod (September), very likely in this exact order of introduction .
So you are thinking now that I am saying that the iPad will have a Thunderbolt Port, right? Well, no. This is where my prediction comes in. Here it comes:

The iPad today and the other iOS devices to follow will not have a Thunderbolt port. They will IMHO have a thunderbolt connectivity capability. WTH you say ?!?

I believe by switching from 30 Pin iPod connector to Thunderbolt, Apple stands to lose to much. The new iOS devices will be totally incompatible with dock connector equipped peripherals so far. And boy, are they a lot! What I think Apple will do is the same thing they did with Mini Display port but now with the venerable iPod connector: include a control chip to enable the iPod connector to receive a Thunderbird signal.

So with the introduction of the iPad later today Apple may show a new accessory: a cable with a a iPod dock connector on the one end an a Thunderbird connector on the other. Users of any Macs with Thunderbolt port will be able to buy this new cable and sync and charge their new iPad much, much faster.

As designing accessories for an iPad and iPhone is the hottest thing to do, adoption of both the iPod Connector and the Thunderbolt port will skyrocket to mainstream and accelerate past USB 3.0

And there you go. I will be sure to post an update once the iPad event finishes.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Apple is the future iPhone carrier too

A lot has been made of the Apple business model for selling iPhones:
  • Sell it the the Carrier supporting the network that it will run on, for abou $600
  • The Carrier sells you the iPhone for $199 or less but with a 2 year contract adding up to $1500 or more
  • Let the Carrier charge you for Call minutes, SMS/MMS and Data all separately.
As a result the iPhone have been available upfront for a relatively cheap price but costing so much more at the end of your contract. This cannot last forever and I think Apple has a plan to dramatically decrease the cost of owning an iPhone over it's life time.

I have noticed several things over the years since the iPhone was introduced that made me realize the approach Apple could take.

The first one was a patent that was sublimed in 2006 but just recently granted to Apple. It detailed how an iPhone could make the different networks it can bid for the service on the device. This is done so by dynamically comparing the cost for calling each available network on it's location and choosing the one with the better offering. Apple detailes in the patent that all this will be transparent to the user. Needless to day even now, such un approach will be seen and almost imposible due to the level of cooperation Apple has to receive from the different networks to make this happen.

The second thing that cough my mind was the eagerness of adoption of iPhone/Apple relationship by the carriers internationally, even when they were multiple ones in the same country. So eager were they and so few iPhone could Apple produce initially that it was left with no choice but to establish exclusivity arrangements until it can cope up with demands by establishing factory and parts supplier relations. Apple did have a substantial power over exclusive relationships and in all cases that yielded some sort of innovative services to customers, like visual voicemail. But even when multiple carriers started selling the iPhone, it seams Apple was in no pressure to reduce prices but only to increase availability.

The third news that made its way quickly into the blogosphere was the rumor that Apple was planning to ditch the SIM card in future iPhones. This leak has obviously resulted from talks with the Carriers. Apple was trying to take control of them and at the time that must have caught a huge backlash and the next set of rumors was that Apple abandoned the idea...for now. The SIM card is the one piece if technology that it put into your phone by the carrier. You cannot use your GSM phone without it.

The forth piece of the puzzle came with the experience of using my iPhone for the past 4.5 years. I do not know how much exactly I have spend trough iTunes and its App Store but it was a great byung experience. I know I consciously made every purchase. This day iTunes has keeps a detailed record of everything I ever bough even allowing me to see only totals on a monthly basis. I do however trust the system and I would be happy if I can pay everything with my iTunes account and drop Paypal and the likes.

The fifth piece of news was just a few months ago and it was a segway to the patent awarded to apply in my first point. This is however called a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO, where a company buys call minutes from the big carriers in bulk and resells them to it customers. How many other companies are there with 100 million smartphone customers? Apple could easily become the biggest MVNO in the world since it's iPhone users generate so much data traffic by default.

The final piece has been there all along. Apple want to have a full control all aspects of buying, using and servicing your device so it can provide the best possible experience. Apple is all about creating the best products and services on the planet. They compete only with themselves and would not even give you a chance to ruin your experience, let alone the phone carriers. AT&T in the States has become infamous for its phone service and are by far the biggest and worst example.

So there you have it. One day 5 years from now, Apple would have been selling iPhones everywhere and have carrier partnerships with most if not all telecoms in the world. They will be buying minutes in bulk not just from one Carrier but from all and create a global pool of data traffic available to any celular equipped Apple device. Your future iPhone will not have a SIM card but will intelligently talk to Apple servers in the cloud. When you want to make a call or use data or send an SMS, the intelligent software will make a chice of network for you based on best reception only as all traffic will be data. Apple could provide you with plans or give you the option to pay as you go. There will be a standart fee per MB of data in the same way all apps cost the same throughout the world. iTunes will handle all payments. You will have one number on all your devices. That will be in your choice just like it is now for Facetime calls. Best of all, this will work anywhere on the planet.

How cool that will be.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A call to revitalize the iPods

Apple has had a problem for some time. It showed on each quarterly results. It is the declining iPod sales. There is something in the iPod that decreases sales. So, lets speculate a bit about what it is an how to fix it.

I would immediately argue that this is the naming of the products; the much delayed acknowledgment that the iPod touch >> other iPods for more than a year. It has matured into its own device bursting with potential to be recognized by the company that made it.

I will come from a different angle. Ask someone what do they picture when they hear the work "iPhone"? It will likely be the iconic device having the familiar homescreen. Ask the same about the "iPad" and you will get a similar response. Now ask what they picture when they hear the word iPod? You will likely hear a few very different things. If you make a statistic of the response to "what is an iPod?" the dominant response will likely be a click wheel equipped device. Yet, last quarter sales-results have shown that over 50% of iPod sales belong to the iPod toch. This branding separation between what people think of an iPod is and what Apple sales as iPod has cost it a lot of sales.

I have tried to explain what the iPod Touch is to my dad so many times and he has an iPhone for more than 2 years now. Until he actually saw it himself he couldn't get a round the most popular explanation I tried: it's an iPhone without the phone part. And now we have an iPod Touch at home too - strike that - we have an old iPhone 2G on airplane mode masquerading as a iPod touch that my 3rd grade brother uses.

But lets look at the iPod lineup and see the overall cause of the confusion.

iPod shuffle - the smallest and simplest music player. No screen, just controls and a great clip. used exclusively for music but sometimes as a thumb drive too. Overshadowed by its iOS peers.
iPod nano - in it's current generation looks and is often used as a watch with ipod features. It uses muti-touch controls only and looks nothing like the original iPod nano. Almost as good a watch as the first iPhone was a phone. Watch this one!
iPod classic - a device soon to be retires due to Apple moving to mass usage of Flash memory and streaming cloud services as compared to hard disks and entirely local storage.
iPod touch - an iPhone looking iPod without the celular related hardware. Runs iOS just like the iPhone and the iPad. Used mainly for gaming and entreatment content. The Ace in the whole. Think iPad Nano potential.

It is clear how the iPod brand has diluted over several very different class of devices which have only the name prefix in common. In my option this has created user confusion and has hurt the sales of those devices. Apple should take a bold step and recognize them for what they are used for an market them accordingly.

I would like to mention the iPhone again. While the iPhone has turned out to be this great device with many more uses that a phone, people have long recognized it and bought it because they needed a phone. One of the very best thing Apple did was to get is the name "iPhone" from Cisco. How much easier it is for person to move from a device he calls calls a "Phone" to a device that is called "iPhone"? It's the easiest thing ever.

Apple has jus in the past year redefined another iconic type of product and got the same benefit from the name it chose. People have heard of tablets but they did not necessary understood them, mostly because the proponents and creators of tablets did not. People did knew what "pads" are. They use them on a daily basis. A "pad" is a small work plot. It could be for writing, cooking e.t.c. Well, there were of course all those embarrassing to talk uses but they were only familiar to part of the human population. And so Apple grabbed the general definition of a "pad" and made it into the "iPad" - an "intelligent pad".

I think in general people do not give the brand names Apple has created for iPhone & iPad enough credits for device's huge success.

Where is the iPod touch in all of this? How can the less than a year old and much more expensive iPad almost reach the sales of a 3-4 year product? Wasn't the iPad just a big iPod touch? Sales proved that is wasn't but then isn't the iPod touch like a small iPad? Yes, apps for the iPad are much more powerful but iPod is so much more affordable and mobile. So what's keeping this 3rd and most affordable iOS product from being a complete market dominator?

The "name" is the reason. Apple for a long time had difficulties in how to market the device. What has seamed to help is recognizing its main use as game and entertainment device and using that in its commercials. But Apple has been marketing the brand iPod for years and has worked hard to define a clear image of that the iPod is. Even the icon for the iPod on all iOS devices looks like a classic iPod Nano. The iPod touch is not your dad's iPod. It's a game console, it's a video player, its entertainment computer to-go and it should have its name changed...

To iPlay. Period

Even iTouch as many naturally refer to it would be better than iPod touch. Apple! It's not an just an widescreen iPod with touch controls. Get over it!

Its a similar train of thought that will leave us to recognize that the iPod nano name does not suit the product as well. Especially if Apple releases in september a new version optimized for the most iconic use for the Nano so far: a "Watch". Yes, Apple should rename it too...

To iWatch

Everybody knows what a watch is and making a product with iWatch brand will be an instant marketing success. Especially if Apple manages to pair it up with its own App store for little apps. There is just soo much useful inovation an iWatch can bring. Just think of the integration possibility of having your iWatch alert you about things that happen on your iPhone that is in your pocket. You no longer have to wander who calling. You can just check your iWatch and see their picture. I could go on. Apple, embrace that its about time you do an iOS watch.

Next is the iPod shuffle.
The shuffle is on the right track to becoming the definite iPod. It has adopted many new technologies that make the original iPod better at listening music. A clip, a headphone controls, voice controls, the shuffle function. This little music player has also remained true to the iPod. In its latest design, it has reintegrated the click wheel and boosted capacity to almost match the original iPod. There is no reason Apple cannot sell a 4GB shuffle. The iPod Shuffle is the iPod now. Yet, there is plenty of room for further enovation and device convergence. A NFC chip can also alert you about calls on your iPhone while you liten to music on the shuffle. I also think that Apple should integrate a retractable USB connector into the design of the shuffle, removing the need to get an extra cable. This will make the iPod a perfect replacement for a thumb drive and give you one more reason to have one. Apple cold even make a software to enable file storage with password protection.
Finally, Apple could make the end of the clip to key ring holder friendly and switch the orientation of the button in 90 deg counter clockwise. This modification will make the iPod the coolest key-holder enabling the clip to hold the keys hanging halfway in your pocket while the controls stay horizontal.

Ater all, its an iPod - an "intelligent Pod".

So after all said, here is how the next holiday iPod Product lineup could look like if Apple follows on my advice:

iPod - the previous shuffle, now with self contained USD cable and protected filestorage software. Clip enabled and optimized to hold your keys. Sound call notifications from your iPhone via NFC chip.
2GB - $49
8GB - $99*
*version with file storage software.
Perhaps they could give away those with a new Mac purchase instead of a thumb drive for OS reinstallation or they could sell its Mac OS X on iPods.

iWatch - the previous nano, now the coolest watch with OLED multitouch screen with apps and video notifications from your iPhone via Bluetooth pairing or NFC chip
4GB - $129
8GB - $149
16GB - $179

iPlay - the previous iPod touch, now in 5" (1024 x 768 pixels) version as well with iPad graphical power and GPS receiver, for a true challenge to the NGP by Sonny
8GB - 3.5" - $199
16GB - 5" - $299
64GB - 5" - $399

Apple, its your call.

P.S. I just have to find a way to make a 3D model of the new iPod idea. IMHO it's soo cool.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The case for the 5" iPod Play

Why is the iPod Touch screen at 3.5"? Why isn't it bigger? Well, the
iPod Touch is the the iPhone without a Phone, right? It was made to
expands the ecosystem of devices and lower the cost of the iPhone
components. So why then is the iPhone screen at 3.5" size? Very
simple: because as a mobile phone it needs to be usable with 1
thumb only. Apple has likely found out that the 3.5" size is the
largest hand held display that most people can "walk around" the
corners with their thumbs.

But the iPod Touch is not a phone. Actually, most people use it as
media computer to-go and play with it with both hands. The iPod Touch needs
a Wi-Fi to be fully usable and Wi-Fis are sort of stationary. And so,
if you will be staying on one place, you can just as well afford to
use both your hands. The iPhone on the other hand has a mobile
connection and you can often find people using it one hand (or no hands) while going
somewhere with their other hand free to do other stuff.

If the iPod Touch is mostly used with two hands, why is it
phone sized?
Why indeed?

So how much bigger can it get without being an iPad?

Well the iPad has one drawback feature to to it. It's not pocketable.
And by pockets I mean those available on your jeans. We can therefore draw
the line between the iPod and the iPad at about 6" as such a device
will barely not fit into our pockets.

How big could the iPod get and how small can the iPad be made for
the two to be still distinct devices? Well, Apple likes to make
logical sense of things. I think they might have planned those two
devices sizes all along. What if the big iPod Touch is half the size
of an iPad and iPad Mini is twice the size of an iPhone?
So physical sizes could be:
- iPhone is 3.5"
- iPod Play is 4.85"
- iPad Mini is 7"
- iPad is 9.7"

What's also interesting is what the resulting screen resolutions could be:
- iPhone at 960x640*
- 5" iPod Play at 1024x768*
- 7" iPad 2 at 960x640
- 10" iPad 2 at 1024x768
* Retina Display

Since the iPod/iPhone are used much closer to the face a retina screen
will make sense in the 5" iPod Play too. Since it uses the iPad
resolution developers will not need to make new graphic, they could
just use the iPad ones.

The main idea of the 5" iPod Play is to have graphical performance of
the iPad but be at portable as the iPod Touch

The main idea of the 7" iPad would be to have a much lighter and
a cheaper iPad for reading.

Still, I think 7" iPad 2 will be a compromise size just as the 3.5"
iPod Touch is. The iPod is now more in a need to redefine itself and
starts living its own life again outside of the shadow of it's other
two iOS brethren.

On a final note, the iPod brand has become confusing. There are now 4 totally different iPods. Apple needs to leave only 1 iPod, separate and rebrand the iOS devices on their own and retire the ones that had their run. After all the iPod touch already makes more than 50% of the iPod sales, by the next iTunes Sept event it will be likely be even more.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What can Apple do with iPhone 5?

First. Not call it an iPhone 5. It sounds like the phone will be
different. It will not, at least not visually. If you give some
credence to the rumor mill the biggest change will come from getting a
new SoC+GPU combo that will likely bring significant improvements in
speed. Hence iPhone 4S name is one option.

The second major feature expected is the ability to support both CDMA
and GSM standard, possibly even the LTE. iPhone 4G name would then make
sense. What would make even more sense is if they name it iPhone 4GS. That will immediately resonate with people as far as what to expect: 4G and Speed.

With the iPhone 4, Apple really made a bold new move with the design
and according to reports that design has been in the works since 2008. With so much R&D and subsequent commercial success it is therefore given that the iPhone 5 will retain this integrated athena design. There are just some many things about it that make the iPhone
unique and more that half into the 4 lifespan the device still has a huge backlog of orders.

Antenna-gate? What was that? A purely lab problem it seams, one that
Apple has address in two ways culminating in the release of the CDMA
iPhone for Verizon. First, just like the iPhone 3GS benefited from the
case compatibility with the 3G, so will the iPhone 5 benefit from all
the cases already released for iPhone 4. Given that the iPhone 5 will
likely adopt the new antenna tweak of the CDMA iPhone 4, case makers
will have to enlarge the silent/ringer switch hole, but that's barely
any change at all.

What is this antenna tweak we talk about? Well, some have speculated
that Apple has the now two identical prices of the steel band to work
solely for as CDMA antennas. One may be able to draw the analogy those routers with two
antennas. The future iPhone may manages it's reception dynamically based on which
antenna gets a better reception. So if a user accidentally creates the antenna-gate issue on one side, the iPhone will switch to reception from the opposite end.


Needless to say bridging the connection on both sides will required
very awkward way of holding the device, making it hard to reproduce the lab problem dubbed antenna-gate.

This change supposedly makes moving the GPS / Wi-Fi antennas to a
different place. iFixit will likely verify those speculation within days of he CDMA iPhone going out of the door.

With the look staying the same, Apple is expected to have a whole new
set of components inside the next iPhone. Starting with a new SoC
possibly having dual cores CPU and a new graphics GPU also allegedly
having dual cores. It's not the the A4 chip on the iPhone lacks power
but it is expected the iPhone 5 to also feature 1080p video recording
and editing.

Frankly, my iPhone 4 while initially feeling fast has started to take a
breath every now and when while switching between those Retina
Display optimized apps. 4 times the pixels does required 4 times the
graphic processing power after all.

The biggest change component wise will come from the GSM/CDMA/LTE* capable
signal processor. How will than influence the design of the logic
board remains to be seen.

A better rear camera? For sure. Probably 8MP with 1080p at 30fps. Some
sort of night image enhancing technology is expected as pictures taken
in low light still lack on the iPhone 4.

A Near Field Communication chip is widely rumored to be the next big
thing in phones after the accelerometer. As with everything else on
the iPhone, the software side will be the key in making this feature
useful and not just a bullet point as is the case for the Nexus One.

All these changes and addition can be done while Apple simultaneously
works aggressively to lower the cost of manufacturing of the most
critical components such as the Retina Display. With the iPhone 5,
Apple will be able to order much more initially and in some cases
invest in expanded manufacturing to secure ever larger quantities.
Manufacturing of those high quality touch screens was clearly the main
reason while the iPhone 4 is still backlogged in orders and why Apple
plans to invest 3.9 billion in strategic component supply guarantee
over the next few years.

All in all the iPhone 5 will likely be a clear improvement in
capability but with corresponding drop in manufacturing cost enabling
Apple to increase shipments and gross margins at the same time.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

On iPad 2 and Retina Displays

From Evernote:

On iPad 2 and Retina Displays

With all the iPad 2 mockups in agreement as far as physical dimensions and surface features, the biggest unanswered question about the iPad 2 is the screen resolution. One thing is certain, Apple will not stick to 1024x768 forever.

Given their past history with the iPhone they will move beyond only when they cam double the pixels. A lot of tech commentators have expressed skepticism of this supposed 2048x1536 resolution. Reasons being, that it will be too expensive, or that at 264dpi it does meet Apple previous Retina display standard of over 300 dpi. Consequently Apple will not be able to market it as such. Let's also not forget when did Apple move to retina display on the iPhone. On it's forth generation. However that happened to be the year Androids phones got mainstream with screens with higher dpi and resolutions that the iPhone. At 2011 CSE, a few tablets did emerge that have higher screen specs than the iPad. Apple is again forced to up the game in some way in the specs department.

What does common sense logic of the way Apple does things say? Apple will not put a higher res screen just for then sake of staying ahead. They will also not do so if the cost was prohibitive nor if they could not do it on a mass scale. Apple has stated many times that they are building a software platform. From a developer perspective, to make sure your App will look good on a screen with new resolution without effort, it will have to scale automatically 2x. Uncovered iOS file references in the past have suggested that Apple has already build support for this.

The questions are: will Apple manage to produce a 2048x1536 res displays the iPad 2 affordable and in numbers and how will it justify calling them retina screens.
I cannot speculate on the first part much beyond the report of Apple ordering 65 million iPad screen for 2011. If that does not bring their cost down, nothing will.

Retina display does not just imply a specific resolution but a one couple to a certain viewing distance. It is understood that perfect human yes can discern pixels at dpi of 300dpi at 1 foot. Increase the distance or the dpi and you can no longer see the pixels, hence you have a Retina display. Normal magazine reading distance is 1 foot and logically so all quality print magazines have adopted this 300 dpi print standard.

The iPhone however is certainly held at a closer than 1 foot distance and so to maintain a Retina display quality it needs a higher dpi: hence the 326 dots per inch. The iPad however is a device you will often leave in your lap while using it. That's way more than the 1 foot and so you can decrease the dpi from the 300 standard and still have a retina display effect. The doubling of the dpi of the current iPad will give it dpi of 264 which might be just enough.
In any case, Apple might need to explain this again at the next event where the iPad 2 is introduced. Remember the blog posts disputing Apple original retina display claim for the iPhone 4?

Other interesting thing that I hope will make it to the iPad 2 and specifically the WiF only version is GPS. The benefits are just too many to ignore them any longer. So many apps will work a lot better if accurate location info is available.

So will the iPad get a Retina Display? I think yes. Will it be 326 dpi? Certainly NO!