Let's talk iphone
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            Believe it or not, twelve months on the market is considered an eternity in the tech world. So for the iPhone 4, Appleís current top-of-the-line iPhone, it may as well be the Queen Elizabeth of phones, having held onto its seat in the throne for almost eighteen months Ė an eternity-and-a-half, you could say.

            But as the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end. The invites have gone out and the word has spread. After months of anticipation and impatience, Appleís just about ready to set the stage for the next iPhone. Appleís product announcement for the next iPhone (being called the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 on the internet) is set for Tuesday, October 4, 2011 at Appleís Town Hall auditorium in Cupertino.

I can only wish to one day attend an Apple product announcement. Unfortunately for me Iím a little too far up the coast and not an esteemed member of the press, therefore I didnít receive an invitation. But no matter, Iíll be putting together a review of all the proceedings and exciting tidbits from the announcement so check back here next week.

We probably all have a vague idea of what we want to see in the next iPhone. I know what I want to see. Maybe your ideas match up with mine. Iíve put together a short wish list of features that Iíd like to see in the iPhone 5, so read on.

Joshís iPhone 5 Wish List

A Bigger Screen

            Steve Jobs, the now-former CEO of Apple Inc., said a few years ago that screen real estate (screen size) wasnít key to the usability of the phone. Appleís current iPhone 4 (not to mention every other iPhone thatís ever been sold) has a 3.5 inch (diagonal) screen, which to be honest, really isnít that bad. When the iPhone first launched back in 2007, 3.5 inches was huge. Compared to the other phones on the market, the iPhone had the biggest screen around. But then competition grew fierce and manufacturers such as HTC, Samsung, and LG ramped up their game and started pushing handsets with screens from 3.8 inches all the way up to 4.5. Personally I donít want a 4.5-inch screen on my phone. Iíve handled and road tested those phones. Itís just too big for me. Appleís product line has a nice variation. Different devices serve different purposes. Thereís the iPhone at 3.5 inches, the iPad at 9.7 inches, and the MacBook line of laptops ranging from 13-17 inches. So each whatís the perfectly sized screen for me? Iíd say about four inches.

A New OS

            Appleís iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices run whatís called iOS. iOS is the mobile operating system, the software that makes everything the phone does possible. In the mobile space today there are four prominent operating systems. iOS (Apple) and Android (Google) lead the pack, iOS on Apple devices, and Android on almost everything else. Then thereís Blackberry OS (BlackBerry devices) and Symbian (Nokia devices) following in the distance.

Appleís iOS is currently in its fourth iteration (the version usually coincides with the latest iPhone on the market -- iPhone 4 is the current iPhone model, therefore iOS 4 is the current iOS version). However, with the iPhone 4 nearing the end of its run, iOS 4 is also nearing the end of its run, soon to be upgraded to iOS 5.

Appleís already given us a sneak preview of what iOS 5 will have to offer. Among the goodies that will come with the free software update in the coming weeks, Apple is getting ready to roll out a totally new notification system, something that iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch owners have been asking for since Android arrived at the party.

            Notifications have without a doubt been the bane of iOS. Any iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch owner knows the pain of receiving one iOSí notifications. A sound chimes, the device vibrates, and a little blue box pops up onscreen, interrupting everything that youíre doing. Say you receive a text message in the middle of a game or movie. Youíre given two options: cancel, which closes the notification without anything of a ďremind me laterĒ option, leaving you liable to forget about the text entirely; and reply, which takes you away from the current application onscreen and takes you into text messages where you can then reply, but in some cases, must then return to the prior application and restart your entire process again.

            Well, fellow iOS users, Apple has been listening and with iOS 5 have an answer. Notification Center is new and ready to cure all your multitasking issues. With notifications center, notifications appear at the top of the screen, allowing you to ignore them (at which time theyíll be collected in a list of notifications waiting to receive attention) or tap them to switch into the application requesting attention. While that may not sound that different from the current system, I promise you when you get your hands (fingers) on it, youíll love it. Iíve been using a beta of the iOS 5 software for a few weeks now and must say that itís one big step forward for iOS.

            The last new feature isnít directly a part of iOS 5 but is intimately linked. iCloud, Appleís new cloud storage and backup feature will back everything on your device (iTunes music, TV shows, movies, iCal calendars, iPhoto and Aperture photos, iWork documents, etc.) up in the ďcloudĒ at which point it would be able to beam it back down to you should you ever lose your phone and need to restore everything onto it. iCloud also syncs between your phone and your Mac. Say you buy a song on your iPhone. Itís automatically downloaded to your iPad, Mac, and any other iDevice or Mac thatís registered to your iCloud account. Say you create a new document in Pages on your Mac and have the Pages app on your iPad and iPhone. When you unlock your iPhone and launch the Pages app, it should be right there waiting for you. Cool, right? Well, Iím not so sure. Youíre only given five gigabytes of storage for free. Personally my photos alone takes up more than five gigabytes of storage on my hard drive, so if Apple wants to back all my photos up in the cloud, Iím going to blow through that five gigabytes right away. I still prefer manually pushing things out from my Mac to my devices (see more on that in the ďThunderbolt IntegrationĒ section).

Better Battery Life

            The iPhone has been at the head of the pack when it comes to battery life. And while the iPhoneís battery is not bad by any means, itís always nice to see an improvement for those times when you forget to plug in your phone at night and wake up to an almost dead battery. A bigger, longer lasting battery will also help during those times when you just canít seem to put your phone down. Youíre emailing, surfing the web, playing games, watching movies, checking stocks, checking sports scores, taking pictures, listening to music, reading a book, using navigation, posting to Facebook, reblogging to Tumblr, downloading a movie on Netflix, checking your balance on Chase, finding the nearest Starbucks, viewing photos on Flickr, and maybe even carrying on a Skype conversation all while on a call. Yeah, for those times, better battery life will certainly help you out.

Higher Resolution Camera

           

            iPhone cameras are some of the best youíll find out there. Although it canít hold a candle to something of a Canon or Nikon SLR, for a cell phone, the pictures are superb. The iPhone 4 shoots stills at five megapixels. The most common misinterpretation people make when buying a digital camera is judging the model by the megapixel count. Megapixels donít determine quality. Megapixels determine the size of the digital image. (A ten megapixel image is larger in dimension than a five megapixel image). Many cell phone manufacturers have been ramping up their game, meaning that theyíre constantly working to increase the megapixel count in order to try to lure customers to buy their phones because of an eight megapixel camera versus the five megapixel shooter on the iPhone. Donít fall for that. Itís been proven time and time again that a higher megapixel count doesnít necessarily improve image quality. If youíre one of those that buys a cell phone to replace a digital point and shoot, go for quality over quantity. If Apple can maintain the photo quality of the iPhone 4 in an eight megapixel sensor, Iím all for it. If they canít, well then five is still pretty darn good.

More Memory

            The current iPad tops out at 64 gigabytes (GB). The current iPod Touch tops out at 64 gigabytes. So itís almost strange that the iPhone tops out at 32 gigabytes. For most people, 32 is more than they could ever use. For users like me, those of us who load our phones up with videos, music, and apps on their phones, 32 gigs can seem small. Would I buy a 64 gigabyte iPhone if Apple decided to produce one? In a heartbeat. Should you? It depends. When you plug your iPhone into iTunes, check the amount of storage space youíre currently using. If youíre on a 16 gigabyte model and your phone is almost full, you may want to think about upgrading to a 32 gigabyte model. You may thank yourself later.

A New Body

            The iPhone 4 set the bar in terms of industrial design. Anyone who owns one or has ever seen one knows that itís by far the most beautiful mobile device on the market today. Its body is constructed entirely of stainless steel and glass. In plastic construction itís hard not to have a jagged edge or evidence of a seam. Apple, of course, would never stand for such a thing, and therefore followed the design cues of the Mac line of computers and transitioned to an all metal and glass enclosure.

            As beautiful as that is, however, the durability of the iPhone has always been of particular interest to me. Itís not by any means a rugged, rough and tough device. Most iPhone owners keep their phones in a case to protect all that glass and metal from scratches and (heaven forbid) shattering. When the iPhone 4 was announced and Steve Jobs stood onstage and showed off the phone, he bragged about the clarity of glass and the qualities of having it on both the front and back of the phone. The glass, he said, was scratch resistant, harder than sapphire crystal. Well, while that may hold true for some owners, it certainly wasnít for me. The scratches I find on my phone are hardly noticeable unless held at an angle under brilliant light, but nonetheless theyíre still there.

            On the iPad, Apple went with glass on the front and an aluminum unibody on the back, just like the lids of the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. Rumor has it that with the iPhone 5, Apple is one again rethinking the design of the phone and implementing a metal back as opposed to the glass one found on the iPhone 4. If the rumors hold true and we see an iPhone that looks like a miniature iPad, glass on the front and aluminum on the back Ė well Ė Iíll be a very happy nerd.

Thunderbolt Integration

            When Apple unveiled its MacBook Pro and iMac upgrades for 2011, they included Intelís new Thunderbolt technology. Thunderbolt is comparable to USB in function. iOS relies on iTunes for organization and transfer of almost everything on the phone. With the current iPhone software, you have to hook up your phone to iTunes and let everything run from the computer to the phone through a USB cable. USB is great and it really is universal but if Apple was to build in a Thunderbolt interface, the whole process (which for me usually takes around half an hour) could be done in a fraction of the time. Imagine transferring your whole iTunes library (music, books, television shows, movies, and more) to your iPhone in a few seconds. Now you know why I want it in there.

            Another new feature of iOS 5 is wireless syncing. Many people are buying iPads and iPhones to replace computers. Why they would want to do that is beyond me, but for those who have, theyíve required a computer to sync all their media and information up to the iPad or iPhone. With iOS 5, that can all be done wirelessly through Appleís new iCloud service. Youíve already read my skepticisms about iCloud and therefore know that I would rather manually push everything out to my devices through a cord. If Apple could include Thunderbolt technology into the new iPhone (and also future devices) I could have my entire life pushed to my new phone in seconds. Again, now you know why I want it in there.

A Better Processor

            And finally we come to the one thing that cell phone manufacturers seem to think gives them bragging rights: the processor.

            Processors used to be a thing that youíd only talk about when it came to computers. This computer has a dual core processor with one 256 megabytes of RAM. This one has a quad core processor with one gigahertz of RAM. Well, thatís trickled down into cell phones. Yep, mobile phones are now running on dual core processors, just like that computer from two years ago.

            In the original iPad, Apple debuted its A4 chip. Apple then used the A4 processor in the iPhone 4 and later the fourth-generation iPod Touch and second generation Apple TV. In the iPad 2, Apple unveiled its A5 processor, a dual core processor which many expect to follow in the footsteps of the A4 and appear in the iPhone 5.

            Hereís the thing, though: processors are way more important in computers than cell phones. For graphic work and intense computing, you do want a quad core processor in your MacBook. But for gaming and watching videos, you donít need a dual core processor in your smartphone. In this day of dual core smartphones, gadget elitists carrying the latest dual core smartphones will look down their noses at the single core iPhone 4 and single core Android phones. I love my iPhone 4, and sure itís not as fast as the day I first took it out of its box, but itís still fast enough for everything that I need to do. I use an iPad 2 for my tablet computing needs and even if it does have Appleís A5 architecture, I still find that itís slow at some things. Does the processor matter in a smartphone? Yes. Will it kill you not to have a dual core processor? No.

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