Before anyone at Apple officially utters a word about the iPhone 8 it seems that we already know a lot about Apple's upcoming $1,000+ smartphone. But Apple could still drop some surprises on us.
#1: New iOS user interface
We're so focused on the hardware that we've not stopped to think about the software. If the OLED iPhone 8 is Apple laying the ground for the next decade of the iPhone, then it would be odd if it did that with the old -- and somewhat stale -- iOS user interface.
The tenth anniversary of the iPhone would be the perfect time for Apple to unveil a new user interface for iOS.
But what happens if iOS splits into platforms with different user interfaces? Would this be something that Apple would perpetuate in order to create artificial differentiation between the top-end iPhone and all the models?
#2: New security and authentication systems
Touch ID was undoubtedly a big turning point for the iPhone, upgrading passcode security with convenient hardware features. But as other devices have added features such as facial recognition and iris scanning, relying on fingerprints is looking old-school.
Apple has been making big strides with regards to the cameras on the iPhone, and these would form the cornerstone of technologies such as facial recognition and iris scanning, and could take iPhone security to the next level.
#3: Augmented reality
Apple is talking more and more about augmented reality and the logical thing for the company to do isn't to come out with goggles or smartglasses, but to incorporate the technology into the iPhone. After all, Apple wants to sell iPhones, and pushing a new class of hardware would be a distraction at a critical time for the company.
And again, just as with features such as facial recognition and iris scanning, cameras would be at the heart of making augmented reality work.
Augmented reality opens up a lot of possibilities, not just for Apple but also for the wider developer community, and could result in whole new classes of apps, from gaming to navigation.
#4: On-screen "function area'
Rumors are circulating that Apple has plans to fill the space previously occupied by the physical Touch ID and Home button on the front of the iPhone with a "function bar" that works much like the Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro.
This space could be used to pop up custom controls depending on what apps are running or whether the user is on a call or responding to text messages or whatever.
Gimmick or an important new feature? I would say that will depend on how useful it is and what innovative uses developers could use it for.
#5: A WWDC 2017 teaser
Apple has announced the date for WWDC 2017, and given all those eyeballs that will be on the keynote speech it might be a good time to offer an iPhone 8 teaser.
I know that this isn't how Apple normally works, and that the iPhone is usually unveiled during an event of its own a few weeks before it lands, but this time around it might be worth breaking with tradition for a number of reasons:
- If Apple wants to make a big impact with the iPhone 8 then it is better off releasing information about it in a controlled way under its own terms, not allowing leak after leak to steal the buzz.
- New features such as AR and the function area may very well benefit from having developer input early on.
- If Apple is planning a revamped iOS user interface for the OLED iPhone 8, then this potentially means a lot of work for iPhone developers to get their existing apps up to spec.
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The iPhone: 2007, meet 2017: