Thinking about the most forward thinking smartphone in the world

As with the “S” iPhone releases so far, the iPhone 5s continues the trend of looking practically the same as the previous version while making radical improvements under the hood. I have never had and iPhone of my own so far, but that should not stop me from sharing some thoughts on the new release:

  • The A7 processor with its 64 bit architecture is undoubtedly the most forward thinking part of the launch. In 2 years, Apple’s entire mobile portfolio should be 64 bit, and 3-4 years from now, most iDevices will be 64 bit as well given the typical upgrade cycles.
  • The A7 also probably sets the foundation stone for a possible move to Apple’s own SoC on their larger devices like the MacBook and iMac. The A7 is in touching distance of Intel’s new architecture for Atom, and 4-5 years of incremental updates should bring it up to the good enough mark. Of course, Intel would have pushed the performance envelope even further by then, but how much of that will be meaningful remains to be seen.
  • It should be interesting to see what happens to the Apple TV going forward. It has the most modest of specs at present, and without an app platform there is no need for much improvements in performance. This is likely to change by the end of the year, or at most within the next year.
  • The GPU is also interesting as it supports pretty high resolutions (well above 4K). Another point to think about for the Apple TV.
  • Then, there is the M7 motion processor that is decoupled from the main SoC. This serves as a perfect test bed for whatever wearable device that Apple may be designing, but also indicates that there are likely to be A7 based devices without the M7 – iPads maybe or even a future Apple TV.
  • Motion processors seem to be getting popular, and Google-Motorola arguably beat Apple to market in this regard with the Moto X. On the Android front, this is bound to bring in some efficiencies resulting in better battery life. And there is of course Google Now which is bound to start making greater use of such processors sooner rather than later (Kit Kat & Nexus 5?).
  • The TouchID fingerprint sensor is likely to be just as radical, and I’d say a bigger feature than Siri. Initial usage feedback is pretty positive. Let’s see how it holds up in the longer term given that the 5s is supposed to be a future thinking device.
  • The lower “s” of the 5s is also pretty forward thinking given that we’ll have a Galaxy S5 in 5-6 months.
  • As for the Android copycats, we can be sure that the flagships of next year will feature 64 bit processors, motion processors, fingerprint sensors (S Finger a la S Voice?) and dual tone flashes. Hopefully they also get out of the megapixels race on the camera front and go for larger pixels (Windows Phone seems to have avoided it so far).
  • iOS 7 also possibly indicates what a notification centre on Windows Phone would look like given the similar design language in many areas.

Update: Some very interesting thoughts by Cringely as well about Apple outmaneuvering Microsoft on the no compromises PC model:

Jump forward in time to a year from today. Here’s what I expect we’ll see. Go to your desk at work and, using Bluetooth and AirPlay, the iPhone 5S or 6 in your pocket will automatically link to your keyboard, mouse, and display. Processing and storage will be in your pocket and, to some extent, in the cloud. Your desktop will require only a generic display, keyboard, mouse, and some sort of AirPlay device, possibly an Apple TV that looks a lot like a Google ChromeCast.

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iOS 7 on the iPad mini: First impressions

I managed to install iOS 7 on my iPad mini over the course of last night. Some initial thoughts on the experience so far :

  • It’s a pretty large download at around 750 MB OTA.
  • Lot of greetings in different languages once the device reboots & the setup begins.
  • It is evident that iOS 7 is designed for Retina displays from the setup screen itself with the jagged fonts & display elements, and definitely increases the chances of a Retina iPad mini release this year as some reviewers have noted.
  • The notifications finally make use of the larger display of the iPads.
  • Quite a lot of animations, and it really taxes the hardware resulting in some choppiness at times. Seems to happen the most on the revamped task manager. This is bound to be a lot worse in the iPhone 4, which has the most dated hardware of the devices getting this update, and it’s pretty clear why Apple left out many features on the iPhone 4. I doubt the iPhone 4S will fare much better than the iPad mini or iPad 2 for that matter, as it has a higher resolution screen than either coupled with slower hardware.
  • Speaking of the task manager, it is totally revamped, and totally resembles the Windows Phone task manager including a card for the home screen (which in turn was inspired by WebOS). The multi-finger gesture (4 finger+ upward swipe) to launch the task manager is still the same, but feels odd as the feature is full screen now.
  • Flickr & Vimeo are now first class citizens of iOS, just like Facebook & Twitter.
  • iPhone apps look a lot better now as they use the Retina assets and run only in the 2x mode. Definitely a big improvement on the looks front.
  • Folders seem to have no app limits anymore and open up full screen. However they show only 9 apps at a time, which results in a lot of wasted space. Should’ve been 16 IMO.
  • Auto app updates are finally here, but haven’t seen it in action yet due to the App Store behaving wonky at times possibly due to the load from the iOS 7 release – app updates seem to show up and disappear periodically.
  • The title bar clock now has am\pm in small letters, and can change its colour depending on the app. E.g. Facebook makes it blue

Below are a few screenshots of the iOS 7 on my iPad mini.

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