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The Future According to Apple – Predictions 2011

I should actually be sitting down to put the finishing touches on an update to one of my apps, but somehow I have these visions in my head of what our iOS-Future will look like.

So in true Getting Things Done fashion, I compiled them into a list for your shared excitement, just so that I get them out of my head and I can move on to finally being productive in this new year.

I’m not saying that these are premonitions, but they might very well be. Read on to see how exciting our year with Apple will be.

Next generation of mobile hardware has an NFC (Near Field Communication) Chip to allow using the iPhone for unlocking rental cars, making mobile payments and using as identification card.

iPad 2 will have 1536 x 1152 (factor 1.5) pixels as a stepping stone to factor 2 real “Retina” resolution. Steve wanted to go Retina already but so far his engineers failed to produce the silicone to deal with 4x the number of pixels than can be dealt with by iPad 1. iPad 2 will also have video capability because Apple recognizes that 2011 will be the year of mobile video going mainstream.

Facetime will be enabled over 3G gradually and starting with providers which are not afraid of the data traffic or loss of UMTS video revenue. A major decision factor here will be the success of mobile video calling spearheaded by Skype which showed that it works really well and is simple. Also people will start to find use cases for mobile video, once it does not cost anything extra. Usage stats and user data will show to Apple that Skype is continuing to lead the market because of their all in one clients. This will prompt Apple to merge Facetime into iChat just in time to make it into the release of OSX Lion.

SSD will become standard for all Mac hardware. Because all Macs will have an SSD from now on, the cost factor is only dependent on how much additional storage you want in addition to it. In the least the SSD will just be the boot and swap volume plus a 2.5″ HDD. Premium MacBooks will offer 512 GB SSD only. As a result Apple will stick with the current pricing of Macs while regular PCs will continue to drop and become less profitable continuously. The gap will be made up of cost of SSD storage.

Apple will also sell us SSDs because in their opinion you will not need a TB of disk space any more. Instead you only need room for the OS and apps and a bit of local data. All media and streamable data will reside on “their cloud” which they will run from their new datacenter.

iTunes in the Cloud will initially not be released (even though it’s fully functional) as a streaming music service because Apple has a hard stand convincing labels to extend their music licenses to full streaming. Instead Apple will work around the licensing problem by letting people store all their iTunes music on mobile me and stream it from there. Including putting the music there straight from iTunes without detour via the user’s machine. This will also be their main argument why you don’t need a large HDD any more. And it will finally solve the synching problem we all have between multiple Macs in our household.

XCode 4 will finally be released, in Spring. With it a sudden increase in usage of GIT will coincide as suddenly it becomes feasable for one-person-shops to keep their source code in a local SCM system. Because of the new compiler in XCode 4 developers will rush to recompile all their apps to get the performance boost the new LLVM compiler provides.

Apple will change the way developers have to update when a new SDK comes out. Buried in Xcode 4 is the ability to incrementally update the SDK to new BETA versions as they come out allowing to always build with the same app and not having to keep around an older version of Xcode in a separate folder just to make app store builds with.

The Mac App Store will surpass even the wildest hopes of those few developers who managed to port some of their apps to OSX. This will make the purely iOS developing folk very envious leading to further tensions between classical Mac developers and iOS “newbies”. At the same time you will see an uprise of courses, trainings and literature addressing moving to Mac for iOS developers hoping to cash in on the new gold rush. After a couple of successful months Apple will also introduce iAds, GameCenter and In-App-Purchases to Mac apps.

In Summer Apple will have sold several million of Apple TV 2 and the mac app store will be running smoothly. This will free up the manpower necessary to include app development for Apple TV in iOS SDK 5. You will use the same code as on iPhone/iPad, only there will be a new user interface idiom to query for: UIUserInterfaceIdiomTV. GameKit will provide a drop-in controller mechanism to pair and use an iPhone/iPad for steering. So initially there will be very few apps on AppleTV app store, mostly do to with media consumption, but quickly there will be a vibrant marketplace for casual games. Apple TV 3 will be released in time for holiday season 2011.

Apple will announce the A5 chip powering all iOS hardware released 2011. It will have two cores and also roughly twice the GPU performance. But as stated above not yet sufficient oomph for true Retina resolution on iPad 2. But it will be sufficient to decode 1080p video in the AppleTV 3 and iPad 2. And record 1080p on iPhone 5.

The next iPhone will not be called iPhone 5 because that would mean skipping over the important step called “4G”. Instead it will be announced as iPhone 4G and Steve Jobs will educate us on the announcement keynote what 4G speeds really mean and that the so-called 4G phones of other vendors are not truly as 4G as the iPhone 4G. Critics will then chime in an in turn call Steve “a bit dishonest” because it will not yet be a UTMS LTE phone, which would really be “real 4G”.

We will begin to see the fruit from Apple’s acquisitions and activities in geolocation and mapping. Apple will continue to invest in businesses and developments that can give them offerings in geographical mapping, navigation, social geotracking and eventually location-based advertising. Basically all activities where Google is competing with them in the mobile services space. Unlike Android there will be no free turn-by-turn navigation on iPhone because Apple wants to stay friends with the big navigation companies like Garmin and Tom Tom. But instead developers will get more and more services over the Apple cloud to make compelling apps with, like a forward GeoCoder that is currently missing from MapKit. But all location-based stuff will be 100% opt-in similar to the current settings for disabling CoreLocation altogether or just for individual apps.

Related to that we will see possibilities to dynamically install (“provision”) apps wirelessly in certain locations and deinstall them as soon as you leave the location. This will finally enable a use case like the Starbucks app that was shown 3 years ago which shows you the currently playing song while you are at Starbucks and purchase it on iTunes. Also to enable apps that only make sense while you are at a certain airport or a specific conference.

Multi-Touch and Gesturing will become a viable supplemental input to the keyboard on user desktops. Apple will release several more multi-touch inspired peripherals. Maybe a bigger version of the trackpad. Customers will demand more innovative UI concepts from Apple having used Microsoft Kinect for a while. So Apple will introduce input via Gestures through the iSight camera. We will learn that the true reason why they did not buy the Kinect technology is that they had already such a technology as a working prototype. And their version does not need extra infrared sensors, at least not for simple manipulation tasks you would see on a Mac desktop. Or course there will be a peripheral plus extensions to CoreMotion so that the AppleTV 3 will gain Kinect-like captabilities that iOS developers will love to exploit.

What premonitions do you have? Share them with us in the comments!



Categories: Apple

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