Whether the the next iPhone arrives this summer as always or is pushed back to Fall, you can bet that there will be enough fancy new features to make us all hate our currently beloved iPhone 4′s.
However, there are at least three popular feature rumors that shouldn’t be taken seriously. Each of the supposedly possible iPhone 5 features we’ll discuss today arises from a fundamental misunderstanding of Apple as a company. We’ll go through why Jobs and the boys in Cupertino simply aren’t interested in bringing these features to the iPhone or even the iPad.
We’ll start with one that would admittedly be pretty awesome, but definitely isn’t going to happen this go around.
A 3D Display
Thanks to Hollywood, 3D is an extremely popular fad right now. The walls of every movie theater in America are plastered with posters for upcoming movies in “Eye-popping 3D” and every major television producer is pushing ever-improving 3D displays out to stores whether consumers want them or not.
Many other related markets are jumping on the gold rush as well, everything from DSLR’s to video games. The hype of the latter is currently being driven by Nintendo, who recently released the 3DS, a new portable gaming system that is actually quite impressive.
Why is the 3DS so neat? For starters, you don’t need any glasses to see the 3D effects. I’ve always said that 3D won’t see anything near universal acceptance until you can ditch the glasses, and it seems that Nintendo agrees. To make the 3DS even cooler, it comes equipped with two cameras that combine multiple perspectives to create 3D photos.
Appropriate comparisons between the business models of Nintendo and Apple have always been drawn and it’s easy to imagine how cool it would be if these types of 3D features made their way onto the next iPhone. Instagram 3D would instantly climb to the top of the App Store only to be bumped down by Angry Birds 3D.
However, I can almost guarantee you that Apple has very little interest in 3D right now. Do they have some people dedicated to exploring the possibilities just in case? No doubt. But that doesn’t mean they’ll focus and deliver on this any time soon.
The reason is that, from Apple’s perspective, it’s far too risky to jump on this fad yet. 3D reeks of quick thrills and the public’s long-term interest may not be sustainable. If Apple ever does jump onto the bandwagon, it’ll be because 3D technology has reached a point of no return where it will be too immersed into our technology to fade away.
An obvious comparison could be made to touchscreen computing. Despite being the worldwide-leader in must-have multitouch devices, Apple seems like it will be the last computer manufacturer on the planet to release a multitouch desktop. That’s because Apple is cautious and wants to make sure of two things: The first is that the market is ready and the second is that they can do it in such a way that people will wonder how they ever lived without it. You can expect them to utilize this same strategy for 3D displays and any other hot trends that come along.
A Physical Keyboard
It will never cease to amaze me that, as every new iPhone (and even iPad) approaches, rumors of a physical keyboard abound. Check out this mockup from DigitalTrends with the admittedly skeptical suggestion that Apple could be going after Blackberry users through the integration of a keyboard.
To me, this is pure crazy talk. If you’ve ever watched the keynote speeches that accompany product releases, you can just tell that Apple loves the smooth, nearly buttonless form factor of their devices. They believe whole-heartedly in multitouch technology and have wagered the entire company on it, to much success might I add. Why would they then go back and make the statement that multitouch can’t beat a good old mess of real buttons? In fact, it’s possible that we could see the removal of the only button currently on the front of the device!
Steve Jobs is fond of saying that innovators don’t give consumers what they ask for and quoting Henry Ford as stating that if he would’ve listened to what everyone wanted, he would’ve delivered a better horse. This applies here perfectly. People will whine about the keyboard’s lack of a physical keyboard for years to come, but it won’t change the fact that Apple is convinced that they’ve delivered a fundamentally better experience.
The benefits are obvious: Physical keyboards are static: whatever is printed on them stays there and the layout can’t be altered. The iPhone’s keyboard however is software and can therefore can be modified to better suit an endless variety of situations. Physical buttons are moving parts and therefore eventually fail. Software keyboards never wear out, break off, or get all weird and wobbly. Finally, physical keyboards add a considerable amount of bulk and weight, these are curse words to the Apple mobile development team.
If you’re waiting for Apple to give in and put a physical keyboard on an iPhone, it’s time to give up and upgrade to whatever the newest lackluster Blackberry is from the folks at RIM.
I normally wouldn’t even approach this issue because I thought it was a given, but I’ve been getting lots of emails about it ever since we began our “Ask The Editor” series. People want to know “when” not “if” Apple will bring Flash to the iPhone.
The only reason I can see for these questions is that the situation is different than many people may perceive. With other popular feature requests, such as the Verizon iPhone’s compatibility with the LTE network, it’s simply a matter of everyone involved figuring out the technology and having the time and resources to implement it. It will no doubt happen, they just didn’t get to it in the most recent version. The same is probably true of dual-core processing, the question here is merely when it will happen, not whether or not Apple is interested in pursuing it.
Flash is a fundamentally different scenario. The developers at Apple aren’t scratching their heads wondering how they can get Flash up and running on iOS, they simply don’t want it. From the perspective of Jobs and his crew, Flash is a buggy, unreliable third party plugin that would only reduce the quality of their products. They have very openly attacked Adobe for Flash and aren’t quiet about the fact that Flash will not have a place on the iPhone anywhere in the near future.
These statements were true on the first day of the release of the original iPhone and they’re still true today. Adobe hasn’t changed Flash so drastically that it’s suddenly a stable plugin, so Apple hasn’t changed their position on it.
Instead, Apple is interested in pursuing “open” technologies such as HTML5, which are capable of making up for much of the pain of not having Flash. Is it hypocritical for Apple to attack Flash as not being open enough while they refuse to support it on their massively guarded and closed iOS system? You bet. But because iOS is in fact closed, Apple has every right to decide what is and isn’t allowed.
In my opinion, Apple can have it both ways. I don’t like Flash and I don’t think Apple needs to support it, but I also don’t think they need to actively block it. The App Store is full of buggy, unreliable crap, but for the most part we realize that it comes from third party developers and is therefore not the fault of Apple. Flash shouldn’t be in mobile Safari, but why not let third-party developers incorporate the full Flash experience into their browsers? Would it really be worse than hundreds of fart noise apps?
Regardless of my opinions on the matter, you can bet that Flash on the iPhone isn’t just over the horizon. In fact, it isn’t anywhere near the horizon.
In closing, if you’ve been hoping for a 3D, keyboard-sporting, Flash-empowered iPhone 5, you’re going to be extremely disappointed. Don’t look for these technologies to be supported by Apple at least in the next two iterations of the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, likely even further.
Leave a comment below and share your thoughts. Are we completely off on any or all of these? Will Apple surprise us with a keyboard or a jaw-dropping 3D retina display? Feel free to fiercely debate my claims!