In less than two hours, Apple will hold an event to pre-announce details of its iPhone OS 3.0. We will be linking to Engadget’s live coverage of this event, found here. As the event takes place, users should pay especially close attention to Apple’s answers to the following five major issues regarding the upcoming software release, as well as important surrounding changes to iPhone and iPod touch hardware and accessory support.
5. Pricing: Will original iPhone owners need to pay for iPhone OS 3.0? How much will iPod touch users pay?
Though Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo don’t charge for their game consoles’ software or firmware updates, Apple has claimed that it is legally required to charge for software updates to its iPod touch, and implicitly would have to do the same for its iPhone after a two-year revenue deferral period. It charged iPod touch owners $20 for the January ‘08 Application Pack, and $10 for iPhone OS 2.0. As June 29 marks the two-year anniversary of the original iPhone’s launch, will launch day and other early-adopter customers be expected to pay for upgrades once the two years of revenue deferment are over? Will iPhone users who purchased later be entitled to a free 3.0 upgrade, as they’d expect from their two-year service contracts?
4. App Store: Are there any changes planned for the App Store, such as more consistent approval standards, price increases for developers, an Adult section, or a Premium section?
Since the App Store’s launch last year, developers have roundly criticized Apple for opaque and inconsistent approval standards, as well as permitting influxes of cheap or borderline offensive applications to flood the Store. Will Apple address any of these concerns with improved approval transparency and new sections of the Store, letting apps such as South Park be offered to their intended audience, or will it continue to remain silent or ambiguous regarding approvals?
3. Display Technology: Will Apple reveal a plan to scale the iPhone’s UI to different-sized displays, smaller and/or larger than the current 480×320 screens on iPhones and iPod touches, or create an output mode for external displays?
With competitors releasing higher resolution smartphones, and the possibility of smaller iPhone and iPod touch models, Apple may finally have to expand past the iPhone OS’s sole supported resolution—but as we discuss in detail in this article, that’s not as easy as it sounds. Apple can get a jump-start on expanding the iPhone OS’ supported resolutions by including a solution in the iPhone OS 3.0 SDK, and could also address those who have been waiting for years for an Apple-developed menu interface for use on external displays.
2. External Keyboard + Game Controls: Will Apple finally enable the iPhone to support external keyboards and game controllers, or announce upcoming models with superior integrated keyboard or game controls?
More than two years after it was originally demonstrated, Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch keyboard has proved to be better than its harshest critics expected, but still less reliable than many business users had hoped. Similarly, though thousands of games have been released for these devices, many popular game genres have proved difficult to replicate due to Apple’s lack of integrated joypads and buttons. Will Apple finally add support for superior keyboards or game controls to iPhone OS 3.0?
1. How many other long-standing iPhone user criticisms will be addressed in iPhone OS 3.0?
Before the original iPhone even hit the market, potential buyers were already compiling lists of features they wanted or needed from the device. While iPhone OS 2.0 addressed some of these concerns, adding the ability to load third-party apps, as well as Microsoft Exchange support, a wide variety of features—such as copy & paste, background notifications, MMS messaging, widespread access to the landscape keyboard, video recording, and more—remain missing. Now, with the growth of the App Store, users also need a more effective interface for managing the growing number of programs stored on their iPhones and iPod touches. How many actual user requests will be addressed in the software?