Another underwhelming iPhone was announced: the same size, the same basic features, and it doesn’t even make your morning cup of coffee yet. Sigh. Despite models in silver and gold, it was all rather lacking in glitz. But here’s what I think: Apple’s playing the long game, and here’s why.
The new A7 processors are 64-bit – and the truth is, it’s going to make literally zero difference to the apps you own today. Simply having a higher number of bits doesn’t automatically make things faster; apps need to be optimised to take advantage of the extra memory bandwidth.You’re probably aware that a 32-bit version of Windows is limited to 4gb of RAM, because that’s the most unique addresses you can get with 32-bits – in exactly the same way that we’re now reaching the maximum number of IP addresses available to internet devices.
When you use 64-bits to address the memory, you could theoretically address 16.8 million terabytes of RAM. That’s a lot of memory. Some phones are already shipping with 2GB; it’s not unreasonable to think that in a few years, we’ll want phones with 8GB, at which point a move to 64-bit will be necessary.And then, Apple will be ready with a full suite of high performance apps, years ahead of the competition.
They’re not launching this to benefit the phone now; they’re launching it to get developers working on the next generation.
Another area to consider is device convergence. The Ubuntu Edge may have failed to achieve it’s rather lofty $32 million goal, but the concept of a plug-and-play full computer system on your mobile phone was simply ahead of it’s time. Let’s get crazy here and suggest that the next iPhone doubles as a desktop system; a powerful 64-bit processor would certainly help there.
With every new phone, the iWork suite is now bundled free. That’s Keynote, Pages, and Numbers – indisputably the best looking office apps on any mobile device. Getting these apps into the hands of users really shouldn’t be underestimated; Microsoft has a rather poor showing so far with the subscription-based and utterly crippled-on-mobile Office 365. Google Drive is better, but far from good looking and relatively slim features-wise.
Combined with the new iCloud versions of the iWork suite, Apple has a very real chance of capturing the lucrative corporate productivity vote for mobile and web.
Biometric Security is the Future
It’s difficult to gauge yet if the fingerprint sensor on the iPhone 5s is a gimmick or serious security device; we won’t know until we can actually test one, so for now we have to assume it’s actually good.
What we do know is that the data generated is handled correctly:
- Your fingerprint scan itself isn’t stored and therefore couldn’t be stolen, but the data points extracted from it (the characteristics that describe your print) are. This is a similar concept to password hashing, whereby the original password (in this case, your fingerprint), can’t be regenerated from the one-way hash.
- That data is encrypted and stored locally on a secure part of the chip; it is not uploaded to Apple’s servers or stored in the user’s iCloud account.
Though there are a various techniques to fool a fingerprint scanner, a two-factor authentication – already in use by many services such as Google – is particularly effective. The two factor would rely upon one piece of security that you “have” (like a PIN code), and one that you “are” (your fingerprint).
In these troubled times of increased surveillance, it’s not unreasonable to expect that all phones will soon incorporate these kind of security systems. So again – although the fingerprint sensor may seem like a gimmick right now, there’s every possibility that it will end up an industry standard for mobiles, and it’s a good thing for everyone that Apple is leading the way.
C Doesn’t Stand For Cheap
It more than likely stands for “colourful”, or nothing at all. There was a widespread belief that one of the new iPhone models would be targeting the lower end of the market, helping to get Apple a foothold in places like India or China.
That’s insane, and hasn’t ever been the Apple way – they don’t produce cut-price laptops, why would they do the same with phones? Apple products have and most likely always will be unapologetically aimed at the premium or mid-range end of the market. The entire Apple economy relies upon the users having disposable income to spend on iTunes media and the App Store. Financially, there is simply nothing to gain from the low-end market – Android is the standard there, a landscape in which for every legitimate purchase of an app, it’s pirated 9 or more times on average.
In the past, Apple has continued to sell the old model as the “free” alternative on a contract; the 5c and 5s are the first departure from that model, and it may actually work in their favour. On the one hand, the colour models certainly have a specific appeal for the upcoming holiday season, I’m certainly not immune to the desire to buy my loved ones brightly coloured gadgets. But when consumers are faced with a choice of getting the “old” model for $100, or the spanking new gold model with fingerprint sensor and 64 jigglybits for just $100 more, I think we all know which they will choose.
The Bottom Line
No, it wasn’t the most exciting launch Apple has ever seen, though some will appreciate the new 120FPS camera for slow-motion sports shots, and I’m sure the dedicated motion detector chip will be appreciated by fitness fanatics. Though this generation may lack the glamour, it’s laying some very solid foundations and industry firsts that will no doubt set the standard for others to follow (again).
What do you think about the announcement? Will you be buying a 5s or 5c? Let us know what you think in the comments, below.