While most people are talking about the fate of the Metal Gear Solid franchise, I think it's a good idea to switch gears and explore the idea of a whole new frontier. Hideo Kojima is no longer shackled to pumping out MGS games, where does he go now?
The iPhone 6: Apple’s Next Impact Device
The iPhone 6 may not be coming until 2014 but there’s still plenty to say about it. Before we begin, let’s look at how Apple made a huge impact in 2007 with the release of their first cellphone.
Tech is such a wonderful and constantly evolving thing. Nothing ever stays the same and it feels like most days we hear about a fantastic new invention or concept that could change our lives in some way.
One of the most interesting aspects of evolving tech is the cellphone. While a lot of people simply buy them, place them in their pockets or purses, and just use them for basic functions and app usage, there’s a lot more to cellphones that caught my eye years ago. I love reading about the advances that these companies are making to bring cellphones ever so closer to replacement other tech in our lives. What was once just a phone is now so much more.
I have changed carriers and phones more than I’d like to remember. Sure, it has been an expensive “hobby” but I constantly have that feeling that I need to have the best cellphone out there. I have been on AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. I have owned and used iPhones, Androids, Blackberries, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone 7/8, and many other smaller mobile OS devices that were big back in the pre-iOS days. I feel that I’ve grasped the whole of cellphones and been able to experience all it has at the given moment.
Still, while the cellphone market changes and evolves almost daily, I still find myself looking at one major player and wondering how they’ve done so well for so long. Yes, I’m talking about Apple and their iPhone. While I sit here typing about how cellphones have constantly evolved and changed, the iPhone (outside of hardware) has relatively stayed the same since 2007. You could mention the “if it isn’t broke…” adage but when you step back and look at the history of iOS, the cellular devices that use it, and the way competition has rose up over the years then it’s as clear as day that Apple needs to innovate again.
2007 was the year cellphones forever changed. When the iPhone came out the entire game and business evolved way further than most thought it ever would. Since then, we’ve seen many other attempts at recreating that sort of evolution and while some have come close, nothing that ever trumped the impact that the original iPhone had. While that impact was monumental, it is now old news and people want more, want better, and want it Apple.
How many times have you looked at a Samsung Galaxy S3, a Lumia 920, or even an HTC One X and said “man, if only Apple did something like this”? Obviously not everyone will say that. Not everyone liked iOS or even likes Apple but no one can deny the one fact about devices like the iPhone: they just work.
Apple has done such an amazing job at perfecting the impact they made in 2007. While the hardware has changed, features have been added, and the device designs have improved, Apple has kept their game plan set to a tradition and it has brought them much success.
In 2013, it is expected that the iPhone 5S will release and I say that this needs to be the last iPhone. It is time for a new iPhone. It is time for a new gameplan. It is time to change iOS.
While I’m sure the 5S will bring along some cool things, by the time it comes out we will have reached the peak and pinnacle of what iOS can do. Apple has become limited by its aging system and in order to compete with the upcoming competition, it is time to change.
The iPhone 6, while many believe will release in 2014, should be the first step in a new impact for the cellphone market. Things have drastically changed since 2007 and with heavy hitters like Samsung, HTC, and Motorola upping the stakes with each new device, Apple will need to do something revolutionary to once again change the game.
In 2014, it will be 8 years since the original iPhone released and that means 8 years of revisions and updates. iOS is dated and old, no matter what Apple adds to it. Functions and updates can only take you so far. Look at Microsoft with the Windows Phone 8. While their market share is abysmal at the moment, the radical change from Windows Mobile to Windows Phone 7 and now to Windows Phone 8 have shown true evolution. Even Android has come a long, long way since the G1 device. With each numbered release, Google’s platform reaches new heights and changing perceptions of the mobile OS. Even Blackberry is evolving with the upcoming Z10 device carrying the brand new BB10 OS.
With all this evolution surrounding it, there should be no wonder why there’s so much hype for a Galaxy S4 reveal or why the HTC One is a big deal. There should be no one questioning why Samsung saw record sales and numbers from their S3 device. People want change and innovation. Apple can’t live off of 2007 forever.
So what does Apple need to do? What does the iPhone 6 need to accomplish to make that kind of impact again? With what other companies are doing these days, Apple needs to serve up choices, simplicity, and a functionality all rolled up into a brand new set of devices that went revealed makes everyone think, “what could they possibly do next?”
Designing the iPhone 6
There’s no need to break the mold here, to be honest. While evolution is important in the iPhone 6, the overall design is near perfect on these devices. They promote simplicity, capability, and elegance.
Apple’s Tradition and Design Perfection
The iPhone (original to 3GS) was a breakthrough in subtle design when it came to cellphones. The rounded corners, slim form, glass covering was so different from the Nokia’s and Motorola’s that dominated pockets and purses. When the iPhone 4 came out, Apple had done exactly what they have always done with their products, they played it safe and kept it traditional and focused on perfection. That’s really what Apple does so well. They launch a rough product and through the years, turn it into something that is so stunning and functional that most people forget about the early days. Look at the iMac, MacBook, iPod, and even the iPad. There is little innovation after the first, initial release but every revision and upgrade has managed to captivate people.
Apple starts trends and while many pick up their style and mold it into their own, they constantly strive to perfect theirs.
With that all said, they don’t need to change their style up when it comes to the iPhone 6’s design. All they need to do is not be afraid to widen the damn thing. The iPhone 5’s elongated design while keeping tradition intact wasn’t the best course of action when they decided to make a bigger screen. This resulted in a ton of bent devices and a tacky appearance. All they did was stretch it out. Way to think outside of the box, guys. This is what I’m talking about when I say that they’ve reached the zenith that the current iPhone and iOS can achieve.
Dipping Into Choice and New Markets
Keep the iPhone 6 familiar but there’s no reason why Apple can’t take the same approach they have with the iPod line. You can get iPod is many shapes and forms and all of them have their purpose. The iPhone 6 should take this and run with it. Why not have a small, compact iPhone 6 “M” (mini) with a 3.5 inch screen? How about a normal iPhone 6 with the 4 inch screen but a wider design that allows for a better resolution and viewing experience? Why not take a chunk out of Samsung’s court and have an iPhone 6 “L” (large) with a 4.5 inch screen? You could even take it a step further and invade the Note’s territory with an iPhone 6 “XL” that comes with a 5 inch screen.
While the iPhone 6 “XL” idea may be a bit too much, there’s a ton of new markets and niche buying groups out there now that Apple can take advantage of. You will always have the group that wants to remain small and will look at the iPhone 6 “M” with wide eyes. There’s the group that enjoys the iPhone 5’s screen size now and I do as well but the elongated design just irks me. Then we enter the trending area of 4.5 inch and larger phones that dominate the shelves nowadays. The iPhone 6 “L” would do really well against most competitors and in my opinion would be the most popular choice. Lastly, there’s definitely a market for larger screen sizes as seen with the success of the Galaxy Note series and recent arrivals such as the Droid DNA. The iPhone 6 “XL” would accommodate that market greatly.
The iPhone 6 Experience, or, iOS 7.0
iOS has done a great job at making things simple and easy for just about everyone. I’ve seen people from kids to seniors using iOS with little issue. That experience needs to stay intact while evolving the mobile OS for other, more in-depth users.
To achieve this, I could see Apple keeping the core design of iOS alive while bringing in new features that break up the traditional look and feel. Either way, the thing everyone has to remember here is that iOS is being used on iPhones, iPods, and iPads and is currently familiar with millions of people. You can’t just up and completely change everything for the sake of evolution. The real challenge iOS faces is keeping their user base happy, knowledgeable on how to use the devices, and still manage to bring innovation and that fresh feel.
This makes it a bit more difficult for Apple. They can’t do a complete refresh like Microsoft did with Windows Mobile/Windows Phone. However, they would have to take a page out of Google’s book and find that happy medium between familiarity and evolution.
Changing iOS For The Better
There are many features that could break up the norm of the design that iOS has while still making it seem familiar to its user base. One of the more major ones would be a form of widgets finding their way into the mobile OS. While the word “widget” makes many people think of the draggable and resizable windows featured in Android, they don’t always have to be done like that. An iOS widget feature should function almost like an always open app folder. Have a section for an app that shows the app icon and name to the left and real-time data from that app.
For example, a weather widget would show you the current temperature, forecast, and conditions. By having widgets that fit with the screen, much like app folders do, it keeps the overall design in tact while breaking up the flow of apps with some information.
Another feature that would do well in a new iOS would be profiles. Many iOS users use their device for work and having a profile for personal use and work use would go a long way in making the transition from sitting at home playing Angry Birds to being at a function and needed to use your device to make a credit card transaction.
Aside from allowing profiles, setting up your pages for apps should be a lot more simpler, as well. I really enjoyed the Galaxy S series feature of an “easy mode” setup. Basically this feature take all the basic apps and most used ones and sets this up in easy to find and use category sections. iOS 7 should have an easier way of rearranging your app pages, clearing them all to start over, or just making your personal and work profiles prioritize different types of apps.
I never understood why it wasn’t simpler to access core functions of iOS. Why am I still going into the Settings app to turn off Wi-Fi, enable Bluetooth, go into Airplane mode, or turn off GPS? The notification features need to have a much more useful design. Having a drop down section of e-mails, texts, and other events is one thing but being able to turn on and off core functions or even shut down the phone from the notification section would go a long way.
Stepping away from the app pages and notifications, another aspect of iOS that could use major help is the App Store. For starters, not being able to update your apps due to no credit in your iTunes account or perhaps no money in your bank account is ridiculous. Why should you be unable to update a purchased app because you have $0.00 balance on your account? Also, why can’t you just let your apps auto-update? I like how Android lets you do this but keeps the one that add or remove function access from doing so until you approve them. It was pretty great when Apple added the “Update All” function to the App Store but I shouldn’t have to see that Tiny Tower or the Domino’s app just updated for a small bug fix. Just update and be done with it.
Truth be told, there’s a lot of requested features from users and I’d be here forever listing them. Instead, I will list them at the end of this post and just finish this section up by saying that Apple’s iOS redesign doesn’t have to be a complete overhaul. However, there’s a lot of features that just aren’t there and to while some of them could be implemented with a version update of the current iOS, it would go over with the users a lot more by revealing a brand new iOS with a bunch of new features, functions, and options while retaining the familiarity of the old iOS so the gigantic user base doesn’t have to completely relearn how to use it.
Open The Ecosystem
One giant step that Apple could do to improve iOS and the devices that use it is to stop caring so much about jailbreaking and homebrew. They are never going to stop it. They will never figure out a way to stop these incredible hackers. A jailbreak method now comes out for every iOS update without a week or two, sometimes only taking 24 or 48 hours. So why actively continue to worry about it? This not only takes time away from getting new features out in iOS updates but also hurts the design of the devices themselves.
Why not add a micro USB port to the iPhone 6? Can you imagine what you could be able to do with that? There’s already a ton of accessories out for iDevices but add a micro USB port and you’re looking at a long more. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to easily plug-in your external hard drive and play files off of it or transfer stuff? We know that the USB port is something Apple stays away from outside of their computer products but that needs to stop. Bring extra functionality to your mobile devices that bringing in a micro dose of USB.
Also, a lot of homebrew applications add some sweet stuff to iOS. We’ve seen some very ingenious lock screens, notifications, and other functions that really should be embraced. Why not allow the hardcore users to change-up some system settings and other aspects of iOS? There’s no harm or foul involved aside from deviating from the Apple official design. That shouldn’t be a concern anymore. Focus on more important things.
I polled my friends and fellow Leviathyn writers about what they would like to see Apple do with a new iPhone or iOS. I got a lot of responses and after taking out the ones about “A7 chip”, “bigger screen”, and “more colors” which have been hammered to death by users I still found a worthwhile list of features. Here is what I accumulated from the iDevice users around me.
- Auto-Airplane Mode – Sometimes you don’t even realize you’re in a bad cellular area until your battery is just about dried out. If the iPhone 6 can’t receive a constant, stable connection then it should automatically turn off features. If there’s no cell tower in the area and roaming is turned off, then turn off cellular functions. If there is no Wi-Fi in the area, turn it off. If you can’t connect to anything, then just go into Airplane mode and leave me a sound and warning that it was done.
- Device Redesign – Surprisingly, I didn’t get this request a lot. A few people did say that they want the iPhone 6 to look different. This goes against how I said that the design of these devices are near perfect and don’t need to be completely redesigned but it would be interesting. I can’t see Apple doing it but you can find some really interesting concept images out there for full redesigns.
- Full Video Games – One of the more requested features was for Apple to upgrade the next version of the iDevices to be strong enough to play full video games like World of Warcraft or Borderlands 2. With Windows 8 tablets such as the Surface Pro and Razer Edge making a push for tablet-sized gaming, Apple should bite into this territory by making some deals with gaming companies to code games for iDevices. Not all of them will but with the huge user base that these things have, it would see some response.
- More Security Options – Make the pin function able to be longer than 4 numbers. Why not have some sort of pattern system? How about a thumbprint scanner? There are tons of options out there for security. I, for one, really like Windows 8’s picture password feature.
- NFC - I’m a huge supporter of NFC. I think that this will be very important in the near future as more and more stores, businesses, and appliances integrate Near-Field Communication. The one very useful feature of NFC is being able to pay for things using a swipe of a device. I have used payment swiping with NFC before and it just felt awesome and futuristic. There will be a lot more uses for NFC soon and it would be foolish not to include it in the iPhone 6.
- Official Gaming Accessories – I can’t agree with this more, especially with Samsung throwing the gauntlet with their official game controller. Gaming is a huge thing on iDevices and there are plenty of accessories out there that give users controls to use but why not have an official one from Apple? With games being the most downloaded app type and GameCenter being integrated into iOS at a major level, it only makes sense that something official comes out to let users have physical buttons and controls to use. There would need to be a version of this for iPhone/iPod and another for iPad, of course. Couple this with the obvious upgrade to the graphics chip and Apple could really go head-to-head with Windows 8 tablets in terms of playing games.
- Offline Maps – The Drive apps found in Nokia’s Lumia series are really great. The ability to download map data for offline use is very helpful and should be a standard feature in all cellphones, especially the iPhone 6.
- PlayStation Suite – Why should Android get the only official PlayStation app for games? It would be able to see the PS Suite come to iOS.
- Podcast App Redesign – I’m being told by a few people that since the Podcast feature was separated from the Music app, the experience has been pretty dismal. One of the biggest issues some of the people tell me if that they feel that when Music and Podcasts were together it made for a simpler experience. Also, the dedicated app takes forever to load and download.
- Pre-loaded App Removal – So what happens if you don’t care about Stocks, GameCenter, or Newsstand? Nothing, you just have to deal with them being on your app pages. There should be a new section on the App Store for official Apple apps so you can remove the unwanted apps and re-download them whenever you want if you ever do need them. Not everyone cares about the latest issue of GQ magazine or if APPL is up for the day.
- Text Message Upgrades – Emoji texting is getting pretty popular. Unfortunately there is no standard way of using them so each platform has to talk to the same platform for them to work. I can’t use WP8 emoji with an Android user or the text just shows up blank. I got a few responses back that they’ve like to see emoji and text formatting (bold, italics, underline, text color, text size, etc.) come to iOS.
- Wi-Fi Calling – Obviously this have to be ok’d by the carrier but having the ability to use Wi-Fi calling integrated into the iPhone 6 would be a great way of trying to be the first device on all major carriers to allow the feature. I know plenty of people who would benefit from being able to call and text over Wi-Fi yet won’t leave their iPhones.
Note: All images in this post were found on Google Images and are concept images of iPhones. None of them are real.