Apple: What you need to do in mobile in 2013

Apple: What you need to do in mobile in 2013

Summary: Apple is going great guns but there are some things I hope to see them do this year. This is the second installment in the series sharing what I would like the major players in mobile to do in 2013.

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TOPICS: Apple, Mobile OS
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The beginning of each new year has pundits predicting what we should see in the mobile space in the new year. Rather than add to the flood of predictions I am concentrating on sharing what I hope to see from each major player in mobile. Apple is continuing to dominate the mobile tech world but I hope to see a few things from them in 2013.

See also: Google: What you need to do in mobile in 2013

iPad

Apple now has a lot of competition in the tablet space but the iPad continues to sell in the millions. Last year saw the introduction of the iPad with a Retina Display and the iPad mini without it. The latter is selling as fast as Apple can produce them even lacking the Retina Display, up to 12 million according to CNET.

Whatever Apple comes up with for the new iPhone I hope it's not NFC. While NFC technology is cool it's not important to the vast majority of mainstream consumers.

I know I am not alone in hoping that Apple puts a Retina Display in the next iteration of the iPad mini likely to appear this year. The first model is not bad but it's just not as good as the bigger iPad or the iPhone due to the lack of the Retina Display. Even if it requires a slightly higher price I feel Apple needs to do it to level the display technology across its entire mobile line. I am confident that even at a higher price Apple will sell a lot of iPad minis with Retina Displays.

There's not much that needs changing on the bigger iPad but I would like to see Apple add one feature that is missing.  I find the iPad to be very useful when used with an external keyboard. While there are a number of third party keyboards available, I wish Apple would produce its own for the iPad.

See also: Best keyboard/ case combos for the iPad | Top keyboard/cases for the iPad 3

All of the third party keyboards connect to the iPad via Bluetooth, and while that works fine it technically renders them useless on flights. I know it's common for iPad owners to use them on flights anyway but at some point flight crews are going to realize that's a no-no. 

Apple should make a keyboard/ cover with a magnetic connector similar to that of the Microsoft Surface that doesn't require Bluetooth. The cover should be thin and light but should have real keys unlike the Surface Touch Cover which doesn't work as well as a real keyboard. A connector on the iPad could also be used for a variety of other peripherals such as laptop docks.

iPhone

The iPhone 5 is selling well but Apple needs to surprise us with something special in this year's iPhone. I don't have a suggestion as to what that should be, but Apple has enough bright people to come up with something innovative. It needs to be something to give the iPhone a big jump forward and not just an incremental improvement over the iPhone 5.

Whatever Apple comes up with for the new iPhone I hope it's not NFC. While NFC technology is cool it's not important to the vast majority of mainstream consumers. It won't give enough wow factor to push the iPhone forward.

Apple can get that wow factor needed with either software or hardware or even better with both. Give us something unexpected and useful as they have done in the past.

MacBook

The introduction of the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display followed by the smaller 13-inch model raised the bar for laptops. The special display is not offered by anyone but Apple making the MacBook Pro the top of the line.

The problem with these MacBook Pros can be summed up in one word: price. These laptops are horribly expensive making them a difficult purchase decision. I readily admit that top-of-the-line gear should be top dollar but in today's market it's hard to justify $2,000 - $3,000 for a laptop. I am due for a new laptop but I can't bring myself to pay that kind of money for one, and I know I am not alone.

Hopefully this year Apple finds a way to lower the prices across the board for MacBooks with Retina Displays. The prices are so high that the standard "upgrade the hardware for the same price" will not work this year. The prices need to drop a fair amount to get the MacBook Pros into a lot of hands.

The MacBook Air is now the entry level model for Apple and it is competitive in the market. What would be cool would be a 13-inch MacBook Air with a Retina Display if Apple can pull that off without affecting the size or heat generated. It will be tough to do, especially while keeping the price in a reasonable range. I would be quick to upgrade if Apple could pull it off and I believe millions would join me.

iOS

The next version of iOS, likely named iOS 7, needs to add more new functionality than recent versions of the OS. While incremental upgrades are often good enough it's time to see new features to compete better with Android.

One feature I would love to see in iOS 7, particularly for the iPad, is the ability to display two apps running side-by-side in landscape. It would be useful to be able to do this with any two apps, but if that's too big a hurdle then Apple should do this for its own apps. 

This isn't new by any means, Samsung has been doing it with Android and Microsoft has included the feature with Windows 8. It's very useful on both of those platforms and would be great on iOS.

The side-by-side display should at least put each app in its own half of the screen, or even better let the user resize each app's display as better fits the application. Imagine having the Safari browser on one side of the display and Pages on the other for research projects.

Apple no doubt has new stuff percolating in some secret room in Cupertino and I hope these things make it. They will make its products even more useful to me than they are now and advance Apple's products nicely.

Topics: Apple, Mobile OS

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26 comments
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  • Why Apple and Macs Will Be Extinct By 2017

    Why Apple and Macs Will Be Extinct By 2017 - http://theawesomecave.com/4-reasons-apple-and-macs-will-be-extinct-by-2017/
    Danny Horgan
    • So...

      ...you have no one visiting your juvenile rant and you spam this site?
      Hypocrisy, projection, fantasy and myopia rolled into one. What a way to start the year.
      frogspaw
      • I actually took a look at the rant

        It's listed under "Humor" on the site it's on. Also, each entry out of the four has its own page.
        Third of Five
    • Wow

      Love my job, since I've been bringing in $5600… I sit at home, music playing while I work in front of my new iMac that I got now that I'm making it online(Click on menu Home)
      ......http://goo.gl/WgVkY

      Happy New Year!
      KrisAllen
  • On virtual keyboards

    Mostly agree with your wish list...

    However, the soft[ware] or virtual keyboard on iPod, iPhone and iPad should work like the iA Writer app with dedicated keys to navigate left/right —no more fumbling with a nervous finger to put the cursor 4 characters backward, just to erase or insert a letter.

    I'm still surprised, almost shocked, that Apple does not consider that as a real and needed improvement. The way iA Writer works is so much simpler...!

    (not affiliated or connected to the iA company)
    origanoweb
    • I agree.

      In addition to adjusting the cursor movement, I'd love to see them address the interface inconsistencies. Here is an example: Within the iOS standard functions and applications, you see time being selected with a rotating cylinder in some places and being a checklist in others. I'd like to use the rotating cylinder to set an arbitrary alarm time for appointments in calendar. Instead, I have to choose from a few times in a check list. There are dozens of places in iOS where different controls are used for the same function. All of them should be consistent.
      BillDem
  • Umm...don't think so.

    @ James
    You seem to be asking Apple to ignore the rules of good planning, abandon their profitable business m.o. and think they can defy the laws of physics? All at the same time.
    Re the Retina screen on the iPad mini. It's not going to happen with ios as it stands. The ui would be impossibly compromised by minuscule touch elements and navigational problems. They will have to do some major software revisions without pissing off their developers before it can happen. But, you're right about ios, it needs some work this year.
    frogspaw
    • Since the iPad mini

      Has the same resolution as the full sized non retina iPad, adding a retina display would not affect developers or the UI in the slightest. That's the reason Apple picked the size it did for the mini.
      baggins_z
      • Retina display for the iPad mini is a must

        Exactly baggins_z!

        4 pixels in retina display are used to represent 1 pixel but resolution remains the same.

        In my view, a non-retina display for next iPad mini will be definitively a no go.
        origanoweb
  • Which is it?

    So in your previous article (http://www.zdnet.com/my-tech-purchases-of-2012-how-they-fared-7000009097/) you state "I can honestly state that I do not miss the Retina Display when using the iPad mini" but in this one it's "The first model is not bad but it's just not as good as the bigger iPad or the iPhone due to the lack of the Retina Display."

    Also in that previous article you state "The performance of the Chromebook has been fantastic, and the long battery life is perfect. When I use the Chromebook I don't ever miss a "real" laptop, and that says it all." Yet in this article it's "I am due for a new laptop but I can't bring myself to pay that kind of money for one, and I know I am not alone" and "I would be quick to upgrade if Apple could pull it off."

    You take a lot of flack on your blog, and that comes with the territory, but it doesn't help when you contradict yourself so totally and quickly. Guess that iPad mini and Chromebook aren't what you say they are if you are that anxious to replace them.
    moth25
    • No conflict there

      I don't find the non-Retina Display on the iPad mini to be unusable but it's not as good as one with. I stand by that and my desire for Apple to use one next time.
      JamesKendrick
    • You nailed it

      Nice post, I agree with all of it.
      toddbottom3
  • What I would like to see

    Hi James,

    First off Happy new year to you and your loved ones.
    Now let's get down to it.

    One thing I would like to see, is for Apple to bring back the at leat some of the functionality of Mobile Me. While getting rid of the old buggy system, I'm afraid they threw out the baby along with the bath water.
    In particular the MobileMe gallery was a quick way for iPhoto/Aperture users to share photos with family and friends, without having to post them on a social website.

    My other wish may have more to do with Microsoft than Apple itself. I was one of them lucky users who got a free 25G upgrade of my Skydrive space. While the service works great with OSX, I would like to see Apple or MS or both, allow us to save more than just photos taken with our iOS device onto our allocated space. I know that we can have dropbox (although) I haven't tried it but 25G is an awful lot of space and why not let us use it?
    MG537-23482538203179240121698430309828
    • sorry for the grammar errors

      and the occasional brackets slipping in there along with the occasional "the" in the middle of my sentences. I guess a little too much New Year's champagne catches up eventually. :)
      MG537-23482538203179240121698430309828
    • Has nothing to do with Microsoft

      "My other wish may have more to do with Microsoft than Apple itself."

      Skydrive works just fine with documents so Microsoft isn't the one preventing you from using Skydrive the way you want to on your ios device. apple has designed ios so that no application can see the data of any other application so MS can't even change the SkyDrive applications to store content from other applications. This is a crippling limitation of the OS, not the app. What you need to do is petition the makers of every single ios app and beg them to go into their app and add a bunch of code so that their app can sync to SkyDrive. Again, this is a crippling limitation of the OS that forced every developer to reinvent the wheel.

      Meanwhile, SkyDrive works fantastically well with photos and Office documents on my Windows Phone 8 Nokia Lumia 920. The story is even better on the Microsoft Surface RT because of brilliant engineering in the OS. A little feature called "contracts" allows any app to share their data with any other app meaning all apps can share with SkyDrive and all apps can pick their files from SkyDrive. Can't do that on the ipad.

      Once again, the features everyone is begging for apple to implement are already here in Microsoft's ecosystem. I know, I'm using them today and I've been happily apple free since November 2012.
      toddbottom3
    • Photo sharing...

      http://www.apple.com/icloud/features/photo-stream.html
      msalzberg
    • All of apple's software is buggy

      "While getting rid of the old buggy system"

      In Google, start typing "apple photo stream" and Google Instant shows that the most common searches that start with this are:
      - apple photo stream not working
      - apple photostream stopped working
      -apple photo stream error

      apple needs to throw away the buggy patch (icloud) that was a patch of a buggy patch (mobileme) that tried to but failed to patch the buggy patch (.mac) that patched the buggy patch (itools) that was v0.2 of apple's horrific v0.1 (eworld).

      At least apple will always have marketing because they certainly have no ability to create good cloud services.
      toddbottom3
  • Thanks James, we knew this all along

    "Apple should make a keyboard/ cover with a magnetic connector"

    "the ability to display two apps running side-by-side in landscape"

    To summarize:
    "The Microsoft Surface RT is everything I always wanted and I would have given it rave reviews if only it had an Apple logo on it. Since it doesn't, I'm going to hate on it."

    Thanks for this blog James, I really enjoyed reading it. In the meantime, I'm so happy using the Apple tablet you've always wanted but are never going to get. The only thing it doesn't have is the Apple logo. I personally see that as being a great feature.

    I'm Apple free since November 2012, and so very very happy about it.
    toddbottom3
    • Hey TB

      You aren't convincing anyone to switch over to the MS camp with your rants. Enjoy the stuff you have and let others enjoy theirs.
      I really wonder if you're like that in real life, butting in between people trying to enforce your opinion onto them?
      MG537-23482538203179240121698430309828
      • Todd actually makes some good points, but presents them terribly.

        I'm not saying that you are wrong, but what he is pointing out is often accurate.

        Those points get lost when he tries to draw angry reactions to the point he is trying to make.

        So yeah, I agree.
        Emacho