On Tuesday 17th, Apple have promised us a preview of the upcoming iPhone 3.0 software release, which is presumably what the next generation iPhone, expected in June, will ship with. (And we'd better hope it will be a free update for existing iPhone users or there will be blood).
But what can we expect from the next version of a product that's already almost perfect? Most likely, Apple will finally introduce cut and paste, a feature that's been sorely missed, and has become the number one pet-peeve for most iPhone users. But this alone would hardly justify a media event - so what else can we expect to see?
The most obvious candidate is support for Apple's new iPod headphones with volume control. The new shuffle also suggests that we can expect the introduction of VoiceOver to iPhone - perhaps with genuine text-to-speech, rather than the more limited functionality offered on the shuffle, which is actually handled by iTunes 8.1.
But here's what MacPredictions thinks the big news will be:
Notification Screen (pictured above)
Many pundits are suggesting that Apple may be re-thinking their plans for push notification services. Apple may be thinking more broadly about how to present messages from background processes in the UI. The answer is surely some kind of notification dashboard, or status display, that acts as a home screen when you turn on the phone (with a button allowing you to toggle (spin) between this and the app launcher). This should be configurable, to allow the user to decide what apps appear, and what messages an app can present. At a glance, this screen would display missed calls, SMS messages, upcoming appointments and optionally messages from 3rd party apps as well.
Even the original Palm Pilot allowed you to search contacts, appointments and notes from a single search query. And yet, search was missed off altogether on the original iPhone, and even now, it's only available in selected apps. The Mac OS X Spotlight model is the obvious solution - a dedicated search app, with a modular API that enables both Apple and 3rd party apps to expose their data for indexing. So that when Steve Jobs does a search for Bono on his iPhone, he'll get all his latest e-mail correspondence bitching about the RIM deal, together with a quick link to U2's new album.
Providing user-access to a shared file system for iPhone 3.0 files, with iDisk integration and Back to My Mac.
Safari Top Site's Screen
The new Safari 4 Beta for Mac OS X introduced the oddly concave "Top Sites" screen, which provides a handy launcher for your favorite sites. It's an obvious feature to introduce to the mobile version of Safari.
Update: Just found this MacRumors post from last year, concerning a patent application from Apple for a feature not dissimilar to that pictured above.