Sunday, 6 July 2008

More surprises in store for 11th? iWork Touch?


All has been quiet on the predictions front for a while now. The truth is, there just hasn’t been much to say, so Mac Predictions hasn’t said anything. In the meantime, this blog did enjoy getting the BBC’s attention with our last post - despite referring to them (with some accuracy) as the “British broadcast monopoly.”

But as the biggest day of the year for Apple approaches - iPhone 3G day - the time has come to post a new prediction. What surprises (if any) does Apple have in store for us this Friday? Here’s what we know to expect:
  • iPhone 3G launch
  • iPhone 2.0 firmware download
  • App Store
  • Free Apple Remote application for iPhone or iPod touch to control iTunes playback
This last item was inadvertently revealed by Apple with the developers pre-release version of iTunes 7.7. It’s a great idea - a free app, downloadable from the App Store, for iPhone and iPod Touch, which will presumably allow the user to browse an iTunes library on a remote Mac or PC, using a combination of Bonjour and WiFi. And in combination with Apple’s AirTunes solution for wireless streaming of music to a hi-fi, it may finally complete Apple’s living room audio solution. In terms of the remote interface on the iPhone itself, MacPredictions envisages that this will appear almost identical to the iPhone’s own iPod application - right down to browsing album art in Cover Flow.

Launching a free, high-value App like this is certainly a great way to incentivize users to trial the new App Store, although to be honest, Mac Predictions thinks it would have been more elegant to integrate this functionality into the iPod app itself - perhaps with the option to browse and pair with additional iTunes libraries via a new “Sources” menu in preferences, similar to Apple TV. In the iPod app, a new “Sources” icon would then appear alongside “Songs,” “Artists,” “Albums,” etc. But hey, who are we to challenge Apple on this point. If it must be a separate app, so be it!

...Anyway, what does Apple’s new, free Remote app tell us? Simply this: Apple has surprises up their sleeve for this Friday, and the Remote app may not be the only one. Our bet is that they’ll have more than just free App’s up their sleeves. It seems unlikely that Apple will take a back seat and allow 3rd parties to have all the fun with iPhone app development. That’s hardly been their strategy with the Mac after all. Sure, they bundle free apps with the Mac, such as Mail, Calendar, Safari, etc. But they have plenty of premium apps as well, such as iLife, iWork, Final Cut Studio, Aperture and Logic. Isn’t it likely that they’ll pursue a similar strategy with iPhone?

Why would they not have announced such a plan last month at WWDC? Perhaps because it wouldn’t be very diplomatic to highlight to their community of developers who are just beginning to embrace the iPhone SDK that they’re going to be competing against Apple itself. This blog still believes that the first paid-for apps to see the light of day from Apple will be the mobile for iWork, which we anticipate will be called iWork Touch, and it could be coming as soon as this Friday.

2 comments:

  1. As much as I hope you're right, one problem is that for this to be useful there would need to be cut and paste functionality throughout the iPhone SDK, something that isn't yet available. It wouldn't make sense for different apps to each have their own home-grown approach to cut and paste.

    I do hope you're right, though - it would be a killer app to be able to present a Keynote presentation from an iPhone dock or dongle plugged into a projector.

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  2. Hi Anonymous,

    You have a point there. The absence of a file browser, or indeed any user access to the file system, also presents a problem. It is possible though that Apple will decide to introduce these features at an app level, even though architecturally that's an ugly solution.

    If they do go down this route, it's similar to the approach that they take with iTunes, which got the new Leopard look and feel, and Cover Flow browsing interface, before Leopard itself was even announced.

    The one advantage I can see in doing this is that it gives Apple some space to experiment. If they introduce a clipboard service systemwide, 3rd party developers will quickly depend upon it, making it difficult for Apple to make subsequent changes. iWork could offer a sand-pit for them to play in until they get it right.

    ...we'll see!

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