iOS 6, Mountain Lion and Beyond
Predicting development roadmaps is something best left to the professionals. Consider this list nothing more than a collection of rumours, leaks, patents and the musings of arm chair experts everywhere. Did I miss something? Think you know better? Sound off in the comments.
Siri, Siri, Everywhere
The question is not if Siri will make it on to the remaining devices, but when.
Server load and processing power were assumed to be the reason Siri was originally confined to the iPhone 4S. The recent release of the
iPad 3 new iPad only managed to bring Siri Dictation to the fold. So if the next major Apple TV release is expected to feature Siri-driven voice navigation, when can we expect to see Siri adoption across all Mac and iOS products? 2012? 2013? Later?
Siri on the Mac
Siri on the iPad
Commentators seem to question the use of Siri on the iPad. Some argue that it is something to be used “on the go”, not on your lap. Maybe you’re supposed to feel less odd talking to a phone than a tablet PC? Regardless, Apple is never going to achieve the original Knowledge Navigator concept by handicapping devices.
Retina Displays Galore
2012 has already brought about the retina iPad, so it’s not surprising that the rumour-mill continues to churn out “clues” and “leaks” regarding retina displays for the Mac. There’s a few reasons why this isn’t that unrealistic. Both the advent of Thunderbolt and the latest update to the Ivy Bridge processor allows for the greater through-put required to push that many pixels.
The missing piece of the puzzle is already being filled by developers, seemingly of their own accord. GitHub for Mac pushed an update with support for HiDPI mode, driven by people using AirDisplay to enable their retina iPad to act as an extra monitor. This is fantastic, and on par with iPad developers who pre-emptively created retina graphics before a retina iPad had been officially confirmed.
- HiDPI Retina Images in Mountain Lion Messages.app - but lets not forget the @2x iBooks graphics that leaked before the iPad 2, and guess what, no retina iPad 2.
- Using AirDisplay as a secondary (retina) Mac display.
Rethinking the Dock
Aside from the addition of “stacks”, the OSX dock remains relatively unchanged. Personally, I’m a big fan of using the Flurry icon set by IconFactory to achieve a more iOS look and feel. Lion brought about the circular icon and user avatar styling that made this redundant, but I’m looking forward to either visual convergence or a strong divergence. All rounded rectangles, or all circular icons.
The concept below includes a video showing a different take on spatial depth.
Near Field Communication
The original concept of Square’s credit card system, and in turn the development of Card Case, seem to fill a void caused by the omission of NFC. The use of geolocation to tie Card Case users to stores always seemed like a bit of a hack, albeit necessary. But with the granting of the iWallet patent in March, is Apple going to enter the mix in a very big way?
A hardware advantage is indisputable. But just because Apple sets its sights on an existing app (eg: Reader/Reading List vs. Instapaper/Readability), doesn’t mean the show is over. A designated application will always have the potential to beat out a vain attempt. Square is one of the most innovative and exciting startups I’ve ever come across. I don’t think they have much to worry about.
On the other hand, it’s not unheard of for Apple to release a product with neutered hardware. It’s my understanding that earlier iPhones and Apple TVs had bluetooth chips included, but disabled pending software updates. Recent reports state that the latest Apple TV model has a dual core processor, but is only using one at most. Perhaps the iPhone 5 will roll out with a dormant NFC chip, while Apple waits for vendors and the infrastructure to catch up.
Less Carrier Dependence
Before Apple announced it’s first dividend since 1995, people speculated what Apple would do with its billions. ”I hope they buy AT&T”, they said. ”I hope they become a carrier”, they said. But why would you want anything to do with a carrier in this day and age?
iMessage is doing a fantastic job of replacing SMS and MMS messages.
Facetime, currently and foreseeably restricted to WiFi, has video calling locked down.
The only remaining piece of the puzzle involves phone calls, and VOIP offers a lot. If Microsoft now owns Skype, will Apple roll their own solution?
For a while now, the only thing separating an iPod Touch from an iPhone has been the whole, you know, phone thing. I think it’s inevitable that the devices will merge as one ubiquitous internet-based method of communication. When entire cities like San Fran and Seattle are offering city-wide WiFi, where does the carrier fit in? Oh damn, that’s right, they’ve got the 4G LTE.
Likelihood: Theoretical only.
Mobile Safari Closing More Gaps
As a web dev, iOS 5 had me seriously fist pumping. It added missing features as well as fixing some critical user experience bugs that prevented web apps from behaving like native apps. Position fixed support was absolutely critical, and jQuery Mobile benefited hugely from that. I really hope iOS 6 continues to enable web devs to deliver a rich experience by extending more hardware and software APIs to mobile Safari.
Currently PhoneGap, Titanium and other app wrappers are the solutions to bridge the many gaps. They’re worth checking out if you absolutely must have access to the camera, vibration etc. immediately.
- Safari in Mountain Lion will allow websites to push notifications to Notification Center. Maybe mobile Safari will do the same? Until then, fake it till they make it.
- Expect Apple to eventually implement getUserMedia, although Opera is the only browser to have supported this outside of a nightly build.
- An exact replication of pull to refresh isn’t possible because of when Safari fires scroll events (hint: rarely). Until then, this is a viable alternative.
- Vibration API, photo stream access and whatever else is still missing.
It’s Time to Unplug the Antenna
There’s no doubt a complete shake up of the television industry is on its way. I’m really excited at the prospect of pulling the antenna out of the back of my TV and never looking back. All the innovative media startups like Netflix and Hulu never made it to Australia, at least in their true form.
I’ve tried writing this up as a separate blog post about 5 times now. It’s very difficult to articulate just how important this is, and how it will shake up the entire media industry. Apple has the cash to ensure the production quality is world class. They’ve got the diversity in TV shows and movies to build comedy or action “channels” and such a massive archive of music videos that replicating MTV, VH1 etc would be a cinch.
In terms of hardware, who knows if we’ll see a greater than 1080p resolution any time soon. Factors like viewing distance mean that most 1080p TVs are already retina-ish in quality. Digital TV here in Australia barely makes it above 720p, which is incredibly frustrating. On the other hand, Bluray or even true HD TV content always feels so unnatural, so I’m not sure of the appeal. But regardless, if anyone was going to push 4K quality film down the tubes, it would be Apple. They have their own distribution channels in the form of iTunes, working around TV bandwidth limitations - as well as a massive media library which would presumably include access to 4K film.
Likelihood: Long overdue, but we’ll believe it when we see it.
Apps on the TV
Who knows if we’ll see this before or after a major overhaul, but it’s coming regardless. Apps on the Apple TV are possible if you’re willing to Jailbreak, and the image below hints at a browser being available in the latest JB.
Likelihood: Inevitable, already possible on jail broken devices.
"Native" Facebook App
Facebook acquired the Mac software house Sofa back in 2011. They create beautiful UIs and were definitely a good pick up. So what will they be tasked with doing at Facebook? Pundits guessed native Facebook app, but we’re yet to see any information confirming this. The problem with this is that it flies in the face of Facebook’s current direction with Project Spartan. A native application would have to be a simple wrapper around a web view, as that’s what both the iOS apps currently are.
Likelihood: Unknown, counter-intuitive.
GitHub → Notification Center
There are already some scripts for automating Growl notifications when Git repositories are pushed, pulled or committed to. I can imagine GitHub taking advantage of the new Notification Center framework in Mountain Lion to deliver these messages. Whether this spells the death of Growl remains to be seen. While features such as “Reading List” in Safari were seen as a direct attack on independent app developers such as Instapaper, it is still a clear choice for the pro user.
Likelihood: Would be awesome.
Form Factor Changes
Budget 7” iPad?
Teardrop shaped iPhone 5?
Macbook Air sized Pros?
Can’t say I really care.
One More Thing - Calculator (and everything else) Facelift
Why not? Apple has demonstrated it is committed to bringing more useful iOS apps such as Reminders and Notes to the Mac with Mountain Lion. It would great to see the Braun-inspired look of the iOS calculator come over. And hey, Apple also loves to keep a little something up its sleeve for when media events look a bit thin. Just look at Cards.app.