Five things to expect from the new iPhone

Jun 3, 2010
Finance

When Steve Jobs gives the keynote address Monday at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, we know he will introduce a new iPhone that runs on an updated operating system, dubbed the iPhone OS 4. But we don’t know all the specifics (and surprises) those two developments will include. Expect a good show from Jobs, Apple’s CEO and […]

When Steve Jobs gives the keynote address Monday at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, we know he will introduce a new iPhone that runs on an updated operating system, dubbed the iPhone OS 4. But we don’t know all the specifics (and surprises) those two developments will include.

Expect a good show from Jobs, Apple’s CEO and star pitchman. Here are five other things you can expect from the new iPhone.

1. Robust new software, highlighted by multitasking.

The iPhone 0S 4 will have several significant improvements over the current operating system. Primarily, it will allow users to have up to seven apps open and operating at once, a feature called multitasking. Another new feature for the app-obsessed is folders. With folders, you’ll be able to organize apps more easily by simply dragging your first-person shooter games into one folder or your social media apps — Facebook, Foursquare, LinkedIn — into another folder.

Plus, the new 0S 4 software will be available to all existing iPhone owners. However, not all features will work on all iPhones. Multitasking will not work on the iPhone 3G, but it will on the 3Gs. (Funny, the iPhone 3G turns two this summer and phone contracts last two years. A cynic might think the lack of multitasking on the 3G is really a lure to buy a new phone. Nah, probably not.)

Another feature we hope to see: wireless syncing. This would be so much better than connecting the USB cable to your computer every few days or so, as it requires little input from the user. If it works like the Time Machine automatic backup for Mac computers, even better.

2. A slimmer yet bigger iPhone.

By slimmer, I mean a thinner phone that more easily fits into your pocket or purse and hopefully weighs less. By bigger, Apple will provide more storage in the phone. The iPhone 3Gs comes with either 16gb ($199) or 32gb ($299) of storage. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster recently speculated that the iPhone 4G will offer 32gb for $199 and 64gb for $299, while the existing 16gb 3Gs will sell for $99 — while supplies last.

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That approach mirrors what Apple has historically done with its iThings. They offer more storage and more features for the same or even lower prices. For perspective, when the first iPod went on sale in 2001, it offered 5gb of storage and sold for $399. (Remember the “Put a thousand songs in your pocket” slogan?) Today, the iPod Nano starts at $149 for 8gb of storage — and it shoots video.

3. A front-facing camera.

This will likely be included for video chats with services such as the recently upgraded Skype app. You should be able to snap self-depreciating photo better, too, for all your social networking needs. Hopefully, the rear-facing camera will offer at least 5 megapixels of resolution (more would be really nice), an improvement on the 3 megapixels in the 3Gs.

Like many new features that eventually appear on the iPhone, front-facing cameras can be found on competing products. I’m staring at myself using the front-facing camera on the new HTC Evo, a sweet Android phone available Friday from Sprint for $200. A front-facing camera is a useful feature, and emphasizes that today’s smartphones are more like mini-laptops than mobile phones.

The HTC Evo, by the way, is the latest in a string of top-notch Android phones that have gone on sale since the 2009 holiday season. Apple faces a serious threat from Google’s Android operating system — more Android phones were sold in the first quarter than iPhones — and the platform is generating plenty of buzz for consumers who want an alternative to the iPhone, or an alternative to AT&T. Speaking of which…

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4. Verizon will not be selling the iPhone this summer.

Apple signed a five-year contract with AT&T to sell the iPhone. That started in 2007 and ends in…2012. As we are entering the fourth year of this deal, don’t expect Jobs to tell us Monday that Verizon will also be selling the iPhone this summer. It won’t happen.

Now, will Verizon sell the phone eventually? Yes. The question is when, and there is speculation that a Verizon deal — or possibly Sprint — will be announced later this year. Still, this chatter has been going on for more than a year and there remains no backbone behind these rumors. Remember when Verizon was supposed to sell a 3G version of the iPad? Don’t wait for that either. My prediction: You’ll hear about a Verizon deal — and perhaps deals with every major U.S. carrier to better compete with the Android onslaught — at next summer’s Worldwide Developer Conference.

5.Launch date.

So when will we see the next iPhone in stores? I’d wager Friday, June 25. The iPhone 0S 4 software update may be available sooner — perhaps next week — but the new iPhone will likely hit stores by the end of June. It’s possible Apple may push the launch date into the next month, but the first July weekend coincides with the nation’s birthday (yes, Steve Jobs’ ego is big enough not to care) and July 9th feels too late, even though Apple has a sterling track record of building buzz.

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Eric Benderoff

Eric Benderoff is the principal of BendableMedia.com, an editorial services firm, and a founding member of the Appolicious content strategy team. His personal technology column for the Chicago Tribune has appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide. He is a regular guest on Chicago's WGN Radio and is a frequent commentator about consumer technology on national TV news programs.

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