iPhone OS 4.0 Predictions

Posted in Spritely by Dimitri on April 7, 2010

Tomorrow Apple will be unveiling iPhone OS 4.0, which presumably will be released this summer alongside a new iPhone model. Here are my predictions and hopes for what we’re going to see tomorrow.

1. Multitasking

As I mentioned in my post earlier this week, I think multitasking will take the form of some sort of usable background services for developers, rather than the traditional model of keeping entire applications in memory simultaneously. highly likely

2. New Home Screen

This goes hand in hand with creating the appearance of multitasking. I wonder if the new home screen will be an overlay over a running app, and therefore will allow fast access to it without closing your current app. highly likely

3. Widgets

I talked about these last month. I think that these widget applications will do wonders for allowing the iPhone’s home screen to provide some real at-a-glance information to the user. Perhaps they will be the only method of multitasking, as they provide a visual representation of running services. probable

4. Better file support

I don’t think Apple will implement a Finder, or anything like it. However, they need to come up with a better way to transfer documents around within the OS. 3.2 is already making pretty big leaps in this direction by providing “Open With” functionality for apps, but as of yet, none of Apple’s own apps take advantage of this. Even with this “Open With” functionality, it makes sense to allow apps to “fetch” files of the types that they require. You can look to the “photos” or “contacts” functionality in the current OS to get a good example of this: Apps are allowed to fetch photos or contacts from their respective apps. Then again, since this would require some shared disk area for each document type, I’m not confident that we’ll see it in 4.0. Instead, I predict that Apple will implement the “open with” functionality in it’s own apps, so that apps can essentially pass files around between each other. If you want a .doc file out of your dropbox, it would require opening the dropbox app, tapping the word doc, tapping “open with”, opening it with pages, editing it, then sending it back to drop using “open with” again. possible

5. Printing

Before my grandmother can buy an iPad and replace her computer, she needs to be able to print. Until this can happen, she requires both devices. I think printing support will only work directly with WiFi and Network printers (no cables), and ONLY printers that Apple authorizes and builds basic drivers into the OS for. Additionally, I bet Apple will allow the Mac and Airport Express to act as printer shares via bonjour, so enabling an existing USB-only printer just requires buying an Airport Express. possible

6. Notifications

Let’s face it, notifications on the iPhone suck. They are modal, so they distract from what you are doing and demand instant responses. They only allow one to appear at a time before they start to stack. On the iPad, which has plenty of screen real estate to show off more, they only show a single, modal dialog. I fully expect Apple to roll out a new notification system that is built into the new home screen and presents notifications in a much more usable manner. Just check out notifications on Android or WebOS and you’ll see how far behind Apple is on this one. highly likely

7. Second screen size for phones

This one’s a tricky one. The next iPhone is rumored to be double the resolution of the current one. But as the iPad showed, developers need time to develop for new screen resolutions. Therefore, Apple can’t simply announce their next device and expect there to be apps that work well on it. This one I’m fairly doubtful about, since I know how much Apple hates to tip their hand early. less likely

Enhanced MobileMe

This one’s more of a wish. They need to either add something else compelling to MobileMe, or severely drop the price, to get me to even consider it. Perhaps some sort of cloud storage for documents, like iDisk, but with heavy integration with the OS and iWork.com would do it for me, if it worked better than dropbox. less likely


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