Forget about big screens, big processors, and release dates. Focus on what’s really big: software that can, yes, change our lives.
“But for as much as the speculation over the iPhone 5 is heavily focused on screens and release dates, I think that, in the end, Tim Cook’s iPhone 5 pitch will be mostly about how the iPhone 5 will change our lives,” intones Michael Nace, at the iPhone5NewsBlog.
So, how will it change our lives, you ask. Let’s start first with NFC, near field communications, the short-range radio link that is used in contactless mobile payments.
“Recently, rumors of NFC for the iPhone 5 have waned,” Nace says. “But I believe that Apple is ready to move on this technology, and if they do, it will quickly become a defining feature.”
NFC has been, for years, all set to quickly become a defining feature that changes life as we know it. But breath-holding is not recommended, based on the World Payments Report 2011, which predicted that mobile payments will represent just 15% of all card transactions by 2013, growing from 4.6 billion transactions in 2010 to 15.3 billion in 2013.
Then there’s the Siri voice interface, introduced in beta form with iPhone 4S. Nace sees great things ahead. “An advanced Siri — sometimes dubbed “Assistant” — could extend its functionality into the Safari browser, and be able to answer more questions and perform (more) complex functions than what we currently have,” he says, predicting in effect that Apple will improve a software application.
If we’re really lucky, Apple will improve Siri to the point where it will be able to answer really life-changing questions like “When will the next iPhone be announced by Apple?”
And don’t forget games, and maps: “an improved gaming platform — a trend we saw established with the new iPad — as well as a stunning new set of maps that would finally put their use of Google Maps to rest.” And if games and stunning maps aren’t life-changing, what is?
You have to realize that although “Sure, the retina display [technology] is incredibly advanced and impressive,” that really it isn’t: “but the display in the abstract wasn’t impressive,” Nace explains. “[I]t only became impressive after we saw it working in tandem with new iLife elements: photos, painting, games, etc.” It’s obvious: if there’s no app on your screen, the display is just an expensive glass paperweight.
Oddly, Nace doesn’t mention the two software pieces that nearly everyone actually cares about: iOS and iTunes (both the computer application and the online store). AppleInsider, citing multiple anonymous sources, this week says Apple has internally deployed the next major release, Version 11, of the iTunes application.
The sources, according to writer Mark Gurman, say the new version will “support” the upcoming iOS 6 firmware release for iPhones and iPads.
“Multiple independent whispers” tell AppleInsider that the iTunes site, including the App store, are undergoing a revamp, due to be unveiled later this year. One key change according to Gurman: improved content discovery.
At Macworld, Jason Snell sees individual changes only contributing to the “complete mess” of the online store. A thorough rethinking and redesign of iTunes is long overdue. He notes that when iTunes was unveiled in 2001, it was just one thing: a music jukebox app.
“These days, iTunes is simultaneously Apple’s most important and problematic product,” he says. “Apple has packed almost everything involving media (and app) management, purchase, and playback into this single app. It’s bursting at the seams. It’s a complete mess. And it’s time for an overhaul.”
Linking to Snell’s post at his DaringFireball blog, John Gruber asks, “Is there anyone who disagrees with this?