Here we go again. The clouds part, and another iPhone descends from the heavens.
What mystical secrets will be written on the device’s extra-large, 640-by-1,136-pixel Retina display? Will there be earthshaking new features? Will it contain the answer to the question of life, the universe, and everything?
Not likely. Apple has entered a new phase in the evolution of its iPhone line, and you can pretty much forget about radical reinventions from now on.
The iPhone is now a mature product, and as with many mature products, the chief innovations will interest chief financial officers more than tech reporters like me: Expanding to new international markets and new carriers. Reducing dependence on sometimes-antagonistic partners like Google and Samsung. Marginal improvements to major features. Enough new features to maintain parity with chief competitors. And a few nifty extras, like rainbow colors (my favorite speculative iPhone 5 concept), to keep customers feeling special.
At this point, Apple has settled into its favorite spot: A comfortable No. 2. That’s because the company has always prioritized profits over market share and is happy to cede the latter as long as it can hang on to the former.
Apple fans who expected an iPhone 5 today were disappointed.
Instead, all Apple unveiled was a phone that’s 2 times faster, with 7 times faster graphics rendering. It’s got a battery that’s good for a full day of talking, almost, and more than 3 solid days of listening to music. The camera is substantially improved, with a faster, f2.4 lens and an 8 megapixel sensor, and it records 1080p HD video. It’s a worldphone, meaning it will work on just about any cellular network around the world, both CDMA and GSM.
Oh, and you can talk to your phone, and it will answer your questions, thanks to a new feature called Siri.
When the final space shuttle mission launches later this year, two iPhone 4s will be on board.
The iPhones will be running an experimental app called SpaceLab for iOS, designed by Odyssey Space Research. Once the space shuttle Atlantis docks with the International Space Station, crew members will use the iPhones to conduct four experiments, using the iPhones’ cameras, gyroscopes, and other sensors.