Under the Wire

What We Know

Surprisingly little, and serious kudos should go to Apple for keeping what's going down tomorrow under wraps until now. They said they would be "doubling down on secrecy", and they proved that they could keep their software development secret by totally surprising us with Swift at WWDC this year, but their hardware supply chain is much more difficult to keep under wraps.

For one, it involves massive numbers of people in different areas of the world, but more importantly, Apple's hardware advantage is the aspect of technology design that is still far ahead of their competition, and which would come with the most incentive for leaks, stolen parts, and sticky-fingered Foxconn employees. Now, we know Apple is serious about security - more than ever, we've found the modern Wonka.

What we do know is part educated guesses based on previous events, and recent leaks and conjecture. Tradition dictates that if (ok, when) they announce new iPhones tomorrow, they'll go on sale the following Friday, with pre-orders beginning this Friday if they begin at all (there were pre-orders for the 5S, not the 5C). If that's the case, then tomorrow will also see a GM release of iOS 8, and a general release the following Wednesday.

(I've been on the iOS 8 betas for months now, on both my iPhone and iPad - the small features have been well worth keeping the betas running, but what will really make this update worth it is the 3rd party features enabled by the new SDK, and those will be exploding on the market within weeks of the new OS, so hold on to your butts.)

The closest thing to a "leak", which is nothing more than a few screen parts here and there and pervasive rumor among the tech press, is the size (and, if you check Gruber's math, the resolution) of the two new iPhones to be announced. The 4.7 inch version is 1334 × 750 (retina), and the 5.5 inch would be 2208x1242 (3x resolution, or 9 pixels for every 1 relative pixel, as opposed to 4 pixels for 1 in 'retina' resolution).

The 4.7 inch I'm highly confident we'll see, and Gruber's numbers check out (no surprise there). What I'm still skeptical about is a 5.5 inch phone. To me, for Apple to cater to that market is too bottom-feeding for me: with iPhones, Apple operates at an unimaginably high volume, and even though the trend is for bigger iPhones, they don't sell at the scale current iPhones do, or at the very least not enough to make a dent sufficient to warrant a response like this. I have had ideas for a while that Apple would feed items to the press as misdirection (especially this shit about a one-handed mode - what the hell is that?), and since we haven't seen any hardware leaks or screen retrievals, I'm still holding out hope that there's no fire under that rumor.

I say 'holding out hope' because despite the current fads, I'm not sold on the need for a phone that size. It could be because I genuinely like my iPad mini, and since I already own one of those, am hesitant to justify a device in such close size proximity. However, I understand that for some it would prevent the need to buy an iPad at all, but entering a potential cannibal into the ecosystem would be catastrophic for iPad sales, and I don't think Apple wants to do that to the iPad, not yet. Also, a 5.5 inch 3x device going on sale a week from Friday means a whoooole lot of development time dedicated to these new sizes, and developers would have a week to do it in order to be in the first wave (a crucial time for release and exposure). Apple makes it easy for new apps to make this transition with Storyboards, Auto Layout, Adaptive UI, and other new tools, but for games? That's serious new real estate to have to take advantage of, and that's not cheap.

So, Apple could go either way, but I'm not in the market for a 5.5 inch iPhone, and I hope that there aren't any hardware benefits to getting it as opposed to the 4.7.

What We Don't Know

How much will they cost? What storage capacity? Any new camera advancements? What about battery life? What about the iPhone 5C - a new make, only a year old, and now Apple is potentially doubling the number of styles available? Will it become an iPhone 5SC? An iPhone 6C? What is the deal with all those colors?

If I had to guess, I'd say A8 is quad core, we'd get a RAM bump in the phones, a camera resolution increase, and an increase in battery life stemming from the increased size. I even bet "Wish we could say more" is a reference to increased battery life.


So much digital ink has been spent on this topic, so I won't waste any more. All I'll say is that I'm increasingly more skeptical that this device will have a screen at all, and would instead be more of a traditional watch with biometric and remote capabilities for a phone. Think Tag-Heuer + FitBit + The little dongle on apple headphones thats a mic and playback control for music.

Screens are too big, too battery intensive, and a nightmare for UX. They'll get covered in fingerprints and go dead after MAX 12 hours, which is great until you really need to know what time it is anytime after that. Another thing about screens is that they pretty much eliminate any likelihood that women will wear it. All existing smart-watches have been spurned from a combination of a) rumors about an iWatch and b) fire stoked from the tech press, which is decidedly Male. Men wear big watches, so putting a screen on it is probably something every man has wanted to do since he was 12. It could even be a decent size, too - some of those chronograph pieces are almost 2 inches in diameter!

But no woman is walking around with a chronograph on. Watches that are popular among women are thin, small and light, and if UX is a nightmare on a 2x2 screen, imagine what it would be like on a 0.5x0.5 inch screen.

A smart-watch without a display can be any size and have much higher battery life, as well as be made in multiple sizes and styles without having to stretch out a resolution independent OS. It could also be, actually, finally, beautiful.

That's my bet.


It's also time for new iPads. Also, Apple has released no hardware at all this year, so Macs could get love. We could conceivably see Apple update half their inventory today.

Big. Fucking. Day.