My iPhone Home Screen for 2016

20170101_083446000_ios

Last year turned out to have quite a lot of changes for my iPhone, thanks in parts to the entry of the 2 major video streaming services into India. That along with some amount of app rationalisation on my part due to the constraints of a 16 GB iPhone led to a bit of diversity on the home screen unlike the last two years.

I was also quite tempted by the iPhone 7 plus and its dual lens camera (not to mention the 128 GB storage tier) as a replacement for my iPhone 5s, but a change of battery a few months back gave it a new lease of life. Plus I got an Apple Watch a few months ago (review coming up hopefully) to replace my Pebble Time (turned out to be just a month before the Pebble sale to Fitbit).

Coming to the apps:

  • No change in the first row, but the second row see some major changes with the Reminders app being relegated to a separate screen. Todoist continues to feature on the second row thanks to its IFTTT & cross platform support, and is now augmented by the Apple Watch app that makes it easy to refer to reminders on the go.
  • Alarmed finally moves off the screen making way for Due that’s a very similar app and has an Apple Watch app. This turned out to be the major reason for the switch. While Alarmed did expose the notification actions on the Apple Watch, there was no way to add reminders or act on dismissed notifications. Due fully support adding reminders through the Apple Watch and also gives access to the timers on the wrist.
  • I got rid of Inbox and consolidated my Gmail account into the Outlook app, mainly due to the space constraints. But, it doesn’t hurt to have the emails and calendars consolidated into one app, and it supports the Apple Watch as well with a full fledged app and complication.
  • Whatsapp also swaps places with Outlook based on my more frequent usage of Whatsapp due to the introduction of voice calls last year.
  • Messages continues to stick around along with Day One though the usage of both has reduced over the year. There was also a new version of Day One launched with web and IFTTT support, but I am sticking to the original version for the time being.
  • While I continue to use One Note as my primary note taking app, I have found the performance of the app to be quite poor on both the iPhone and Mi 4, and finally moved it out of my home screen. The Apple Watch app is also quite handy though it is of limited utility for note taking on the wrist. An honorable mention for the Zoho Notebook app that is cross platform just like One Note and also supports the Apple Watch, but not IFTTT. It also allows you to make audio notes from the wrist.
  • My trio of travel apps – Google Maps, Uber and Ola – remain in the same places and my reliance on each of them remains unchanged as well. That said, the apps themselves have changed quite a bit over the last year with Uber undergoing a major rebranding exercise and a complete overhaul of their iOS app. Ola has also expanded its range of services over the last year.
  • Oura is one of the new entrants to the home screen and it is the companion app to the Oura ring that I got in May 2016. I use it through the day to track my activities, starting off with my sleep first thing in the morning.
  • Streaks continues to remain on the home screen and I have tweaked the activities that I’m tracking to make them more automated where possible like the ones that read data from the Health app for steps, sleep and weight. It again has an Apple Watch to make it easier to track habits.
  • Netflix and Amazon Video don’t need much of an introduction of course and 2016 saw the entry of both the services in India albeit at either end of the year. I even upgraded my data plan so that I could watch shows on the go. Here again, the 16 GB storage of my iPhone 5s prevents me from downloading any shows though both apps support offline videos. Good thing I have my Mi 4, but Netflix for some reason doesn’t allow downloads on itNetflix for some reason doesn’t allow downloads on it.
  • The Money Pro app also finally displaces the MoneyBook app for my finance tracking. The main advantage was the search feature, making it easier to track expenses. The Apple Watch app also helps in making quick entries. It has a macOS app as well along with iCloud sync support.

A few other apps that don’t feature on the home screen but get used regularly are PayTM (was using it long before the demonetisation), Workflow, Pedometer++, Data Counter and Copied (a clipboard manager with a keyboard and widget) some of which I use through widgets or the Watch apps.

Advertisements

Where Apple is aiming the puck

There weren’t too many surprises on the hardware front with the iPhone 7 release with the usual stream of supply chain leaks and rumours over the last few weeks leading up to the launch. The event pretty much reemphasized that the smartphone market, particularly the high end, has pretty much matured and Apple checked off the niggles over the entry level storage. Apple also broke a trend of sorts with the external design not changing considerably over the previous “s” year, another sign of a maturing market.

There was also a lot of clarity in their positioning of the Apple Watch with the focus shifting to health and fitness, while reducing the emphasis on communication (at least for the time being). It is going to be a while before the Apple Watch is able to turn into a standalone device. The new models in tandem with WatchOS 3 do address some of the performance concerns with the first model, but we’re still some time away from an always on display.

Apple also doubled down on their strengths with the focus on platform exclusives, 3D Touch and pushing the envelope on the camera capabilities. They have also increased the feature gap between the regular and Plus model this year with the camera having a tangible difference in addition to the screen and battery size, along with the increased RAM.

There was of course the loss of the headphone jack that many had predicted and the switch to a non clickable home button. The former is something that many of the Android phone makers have tried to preempt, while the latter is something a majority of the non-iPhone owners are used to. As for the A10 chip, it was a validation of ARM’s big.LITTLE architecture that has been in use by the Android market for over 3 years. Big jumps in performance usually come through node shrinks, and with Moore’s law slowing Apple has its task cut out.

Here are a few thoughts on where things seem to be headed based on Apple’s moves this year:

  • They have pretty much set their sights on the pro camera market with the support for wider colour gamuts on the sensor and display. Plus (pun intended) there’s the dual camera lens bringing back a viable telephoto lens to the smartphone market (sort of – 56mm is closer to normal focal length). People who were hurt with Windows Phone and Nokia’s (Lumia 1020) demise have a proper alternative at last.
  • It’ll be a while before the longer focal length on the iPhone attains the quality of the wider one, but this is just the beginning and we can expect iterations to happen pretty quick now that the ball has been set rolling by the most focussed company. Also, you don’t have to look any farther than this comparison of the original iPhone camera to the iPhone 7 to see what can be done in 10 years.
  • Again, on the photography front, with the Plus introducing a second lens, we get closer to the “holy trinity” of prime lenses which typically refers to a wide-normal-telephoto combination of lenses to cover a majority of shooting options. Technically we’ve got the wide and normal lengths covered. Of course, the iPhone is not going to be replacing DSLRs for specialised purposes (birding, low light action) anytime soon, but you know where we’re headed.
  • This dual lens camera also enables the journey towards computer vision thanks to the depth of field perception. What is today a sort of gimmicky feature previously tried by Android phone makers can potentially be the stepping stone towards AR.
  • Those Intel fab rumours that have been around for the last couple of years might finally be coming true next year.
  • The currently gimmicky, but increasingly exhibited feature of 3D Touch is most likely a stepping stone to a future where the display lets you actually feel the textures of items shown. This would take interaction to the new level and iOS 10 has finally opened up the current haptic engine to developers. Just take a look at Apple’s patents to get a feel (yes) of where things are headed. Maybe it’ll arrive as soon as next year when people expect the 10th anniversary iPhone to have an all display front. Accessibility has been one of Apple’s strengths and they also support Braille displays with their iOS devices. This expertise might just help them overall bringing out the really 3D in the touch. As to what kind of stuff is possible, check out Disney Research (guess which companies share board members?).

So, where does this leave me personally? Well, I just replaced my iPhone 5s battery and it should last me another year quite easily given that the performance has all but improved with iOS 10 (I doubt anyone with a 3 year old Android phone can say the same thing). The iPhone 7 Plus camera is really tempting me to give up my DSLR entirely (I really love shooting with my Canon 50mm f/1.8 prime lens which on a cropped body like the 550D gives an 80mm equivalent focal length), it’s just the first iteration and I find the 5.5″ size too big. Apple Pay has also not launched in India either, so I’m not missing any major feature with the 5s barring the screen size and camera (I do use a Mi 4 as well, so the screen size is even less of an issue). Then there’s the next year’s iPhone of course.

Understanding “iPhone is synced with another iTunes Library. Do you want to erase this iPhone and sync with this iTunes Library” Message

That’s a relief, but they really ought to reword it now that we are exclusively on iOS devices:

What it actually does: Erase the iTunes media only, nothing else is erased

For example, if you have a large music library on the iPhone and click on the Erase and Sync button, that music library will instantly vanish, but all of your contacts, photos, apps, customizations, and other media remains untouched on the iPhone. Only the music and iTunes content will disappear. That means the entire large music library will vanish, but nothing else will.

Source: Understanding “iPhone is synced with another iTunes Library. Do you want to erase this iPhone and sync with this iTunes Library” Message

My iPhone Home Screen for 2015

IMG_3218

It’s the start of a new year and it’s time to review the apps on my iPhone home screen, an exercise I started last year. Many of the apps remain the same, while a few make it back into the home screen while a couple of others for replaced due to apps getting discontinued. Here goes a brief summary of the apps starting from the top:

  • The first 6 apps remain the same as last year which are the Apple defaults.
  • Todoist: The cross platform support including desktop apps and the convenient IFTTT channel made me pick Todoist as my preferred to do manager. This slot was occupied by the location based reminder Checkmark 2 last year, but I more or less gave up on the concept due to its relative unreliability with reminders not getting triggered in the right locations.
  • Alarmed: It retains its spot as my preferred reminder and timer management app. I had briefly switched to 2Do but that turned out to be a bit of an overkill and not as easy to use for me. Moreover Alarmed finally got an update for iOS 8 notification actions towards the middle of the year to get on with the times.
  • Messages & Whatsapp: The messaging apps remain the same and with more people in office getting iPhones Messages is getting a good workout. Whatsapp also got an update for iOS notification replies and other tweaks over the year to become more convenient to use.
  • Inbox: Dropbox dropped a bomb towards the end of the year with its discontinuation of Mailbox and I promptly made the switch to Google’s own Inbox which seems to be the way forward for Gmail and has many of my regularly used features of Mailbox like swipe based actions.
  • OneNote: This is my preferred note taking app thanks to its cross platform support and I’ve been using it even more thanks to the IFTTT integration that allows me to create stubs based on triggers from other services. E.g. I have my Office365 meetings from the calendar create stubs to record meeting notes.
  • Google Maps, Uber & Ola: The must have travel related services for me. Google Maps continues to be an excellent source to monitor traffic conditions and the locations in India are a lot more up to date than Apple Maps. You can also download maps for offline use now, but that’s going to be difficult on a 16 GB phone like mine. I’ve also done my bit by editing a few places where I found inaccuracies. For the taxi services, Uber joins Ola as my go to services and I’ve been using these 2 services almost exclusively for the last 6 months for my day to day travels instead of the local kaali peeli taxis in Mumbai ever since the strikes started in June.
  • Day One: I’ve managed to continue my journal habits though I’ve toned down the mundane stuff. Not much to add over last year.
  • Safari: It replaces Chrome as my preferred browser on the iPhone due to its support for ad blockers introduced in iOS 9 (I’ve retained the copy of the discontinued Peace). Since I use a MacBook at work, the handoff and continuity features give me the cross platform browsing support I need.
  • Streaks: I’ve been using this app to maintain some habits like hitting step targets, reading a book daily, going to bed in time, leaving office in time etc.
  • Hours: A simple time tracking app for different projects. Had a bit of a buyer’s remorse when the app got a big price cut right after I bought it and then went free within a month. It’s a bit buggy as well. Still, a useful app to have to track my time distribution at work.
  • Left to Spend: A simple app to track a daily budget manually. In my case I use it to track the office food court prepaid card balance.
  • Phone: For voice calls, duh!
  • Outlook: My preferred email client for work and the new avatar of Accompli that Microsoft acquired to create the mobile Outlook app. This retains the best of Accompli’s features like the integrated calendar view and provides better support for other services.
  • Moneybook: I continue to track my expenses manually on this app. I tried a few other options briefly including switching to the Android based Mi 4 with its automated expense trackers, but end up returning to this every time thanks to the simple interface and the ability to perform simple arithmetic operations during entries. This would be the perfect expense tracker for me if only it had a search feature.
  • Camera: Tried a few replacements, but stuck to this as the default.

A few of the home screen apps from last year like Camera+, Shazam and Wikipanion have moved on to the second screen while I removed Paper and Argus due to the limited developments. I also deliberately moved away the social network apps to the second screen to reduce the time spent on them (not very successful yet). Overall, not a big change in the type of apps though I see a few apps moving around over the next year. Also looking forward to the new entries this year.

iOS 9 on the original iPad mini & iPhone 5s

I updated to iOS 9 on my iPad mini and iPhone 5s within the first week of launch, and been using it for nearly 2 weeks now. The update was a lot easier this time due to the space optimisations and I managed to do an OTA update on the iPhone unlike last time.

iOS 9 comes with its share of tweaks and optimisations that are supposed to improve performance on older devices, but I haven’t noticed much difference in terms of performance on either device which is in line with the observations of others. That said a few games like Limbo that were crashing on startup on my iPad mini (even after device restarts) seem to be at least working now.

While the iPhone 5s gets pretty much all the new features introduced in iOS 9 barring the ones that require special hardware, the iPad mini is left out of practically all the marquee features like content blocking, Siri-Spotlight search improvements and all of the split screen features. That said the iPad keyboard is improved and sports the cut-copy-paste & undo-redo buttons and also supports the two finger cursor navigation gesture. iOS 9 also brings back the 4×4 grid of icons in folders on the iPad, so it is not a total lost cause.

Battery life also seems to be in the same ballpark, though the iPhone seems to be exhibiting a slight improvement in the last few days. Of course that is hardly sufficient to last me a full day even with the new Low Power Mode. The additional details in the battery usage section of settings is also quite useful as it shows the screen on time and overall active time for each item as well.

I also noticed that iPhone only apps when run on the iPad no longer show the top status bar as a part of the app, but leave it on the top of the screen. This is possibly a result of the split screen multitasking capabilities introduced in iOS 9.

A gotcha to keep in mind on the iPhone is the Wifi assist feature (something that’s been on Android for a while) that’s on by default and tries to use the mobile network when the wifi is poor. This can easily burn through your data plan and is best left turned off on limited data plans.

There are also some features like app slicing that are currently disabled due to glitches, but should improve the storage situation on all devices. This is one of the features I’m really looking forward to on my 16 GB iPhone.

Overall, the experience has been quite good though the iPad mini is beginning to show its age. Pretty evident why Apple pulled the device off the market earlier this year. This year also marks a complete 64 bit transition for Apple’s entire device lineup starting from the iPod Touch to the iPad and Apple TV.

Thoughts on the Sep 2015 Apple event

Looks like Apple is revamping their event calendar and spacing out the events a bit more reasonable with one at the start and one towards the end. It was also a pretty busy event with ton of new launches and quite a few items that were skipped altogether – most notably the Mac OS X update. Of course the gist most of the announcements made in the event were known beforehand, but there were some surprises nonetheless.

The long rumoured iPad Pro finally made its debut and pretty much validated the strategy that Microsoft had pioneered with their Surface Pro series – you need a screen larger than 10″, split screen multitasking and a keyboard to make tablets more productive. And then of course there was the Apple Pencil which was again expected given the need for precision & flexibility when drawing. The 2 biggest takeaways was first, Microsoft demoing Office in the session that pretty much sums up the vastly different approach taken in the Satya Nadella era, and second the near doubling of quoted performance of the iPad Pro over the Air 2. This definitely makes the writing clearer on the wall for Intel, as the iPad Air 2 was nearly half as fast as the Core M processors and this should bring the performance in the same ballpark. In fact, in the last few years, Apple has probably been the biggest factor behind Intel’s innovations given the dearth of competition from AMD.

The fact that there was no other iPad update, unless you count the passing mention of the iPad mini 4, shows the speed at which the tablet market has matured and reached a good enough state. Arguably, the iPad 2 was at a good enough state in terms of hardware power and is still being supported with iOS 9. The iPad Pro is Apple’s attempt to grow the tablet market beyond home users and into the enterprise segment. That will definitely take a good deal of time given that most enterprises are Microsoft strongholds and the cost factor will prevent them from outright replacing PCs. Also, whatever the demos may want you to believe, most enterprise workers do not get to do such fancy stuff with their devices.

Health seems to have become the main usage focus for the Apple Watch given the proportion of time given for fitness and health related aspects. This is also probably one of the scenarios where the performance of the Watch will not be constrained as a first generation hardware. The partnership with Hermes also emphasised the luxury status of the Watch, and unless the pricing changes over the years (unusual for new launches), price will remain one of the major roadblocks to its adoption. The second generation of the Watch is likely to improve the internals significantly, and we are likely to have a white iPhone moment in the future with a round Apple Watch.

Then there was the Apple TV that at last gave us a glimpse of Steve Jobs famous “I finally cracked it” quote. Technology was definitely not one of the factors that had held back the Apple TV from being launched in the last couple of years, as the real battle is with the content providers rather than any of the other apps. In fact, it will probably be a while before people outside the US or some of the typical Apple strongholds will get much in form of regional content on the Apple TV. There was also no mention of HomeKit in the entire session, and this likely means that while the hardware is probably present in the new TV, the ecosystem has some way to go. The Apple TV also affirms the A8s new role as the venerable A5s long term replacement given that the iPod Touch and iPad Mini 4 upgrade to A8.

Last but not the least, the iPhone 6s\6s+ updates were also along expected lines and oddly enough relegated to the end of the show. Force Touch or rather 3D Touch definitely opens up a new dimension of interaction, but the real innovation will be when we have touchscreens that are able to simulate the feel of different surfaces. The camera improvements were also pretty much mandatory given the older 8 MP sensors inability to shoot 4K videos. The unusual part of the new devices was the increase in weight of both models by almost 10% and an almost imperceptible increase in size. Then there were a bunch of touted features that have been seen before in other phones on the Android and Windows side of the fence like moving photos (HTC Zoe) and using the display as a flash (LG).

Overall, the product launches rounded off a very busy year for Apple, but there was a sense of deja vu with many of the showcased features which other companies have previously demonstrated to about 80% of their potential. It is however, the last 20% of spit, polish and sweat that typically separates the Apple experiences from the rest.

The camera that’s taking over from my DSLR aka a year with the iPhone 5s

I ended up with a broken screen on my beloved Nokia Lumia 720 over a year ago, and thus began my search for a new phone. After lots of deliberation and the delayed launch of the Lumia 930 with its mixed reviews, I ended up with a 16 GB gold iPhone 5s that had just received some price cuts thanks to the iPhone 6 launch. It’s been a very satisfying photo taking journey with the iPhone thus far barring some hiccups. It is a very versatile shooter that gives amazing results even in its auto mode. Then of course, there are the manual controls introduced in iOS 8 that hand over the reigns to the photographer. Plus the entire photography workflow from shooting to editing to publishing and backing up can be performed on the same device.

The iPhone 5s has been my primary camera for nearly a year now, and there have been only a few occasions like stage shows that I’ve used my Canon EOS 550D. I carried the DSLR with the 15-85 mm lens on my Goa trip in March but hardly shot with it, and then altogether skipped it on my last trip to Kolkata. In fact, I’ve been giving away some of my DSLR accessories that I rarely use over the last few months.

In terms of reliability, the iPhone series easily beats its Android counterparts as the camera app launches in a jiffy and the focusing speed and shooting latency are top notch. These parameters have been thoroughly tested in the last one year thanks to my daughter who’s 2 1/2 years old now.

Processing and sharing photos is also a breeze with the numerous apps, and this is one part of the workflow that has been completed integrated with the photo taking effort unlike in a standalone DSLR. Then of course there are the automatic backups through iCloud, Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Photos, Flickr et al that ensures that the memories remain intact. It’s only natural that Microsoft and Google are trying to automate the album creation and tagging process on their photo storage services given the huge volumes we’re shooting.

The only fly in the ointment has been the storage space as 12 GB of usable is barely enough to hold all the photos after you’ve loaded a few apps. Then of course there are the videos which are all full HD and pretty enormous in size. I’ve managed to make do thanks to the iCloud photo library introduced in iOS 8 that automatically backs up and removes old photos from the device. In fact, I have gone beyond the 5 GB free tier and upgraded to the 20 GB one.

Then of course there’s the loss of variable focal lengths and being stuck with a wide angle lens. I do have a personal preference of shooting medium telephoto lengths with the 50 mm prime being my DSLR favourite. Cropping manages to take care of some of these issues when the lighting is good, and I like to think of the iPhone 5s as a camera with a wide angle prime lens.

When it comes down to image quality, I’ve found it good enough compared to my DSLR except in very low light situations. The focus speed can be a bit slow compared to the DSLR as well and this is one aspect that’s been upgraded in the iPhone 6\6+. Video quality is of course superb and the electronic stabilization makes a real difference, but the storage space gets in the way for longer videos.

There are of course other features like slo-mo 120 fps videos that are just not possible on the DSLR, and shooting time lapses or hyperlapses is a breeze compared to the elaborate setup required with the DSLR.

So, do you want to buy a DSLR? Please don’t – just get an iPhone (or even one of the Android flagships like LG G3\G4 or Galaxy S6)

My iPhone Home Screen for 2014

Home Screen

2014 was the year I finally switched to an iPhone all thanks to the broken screen on my much loved Lumia 720. I got an iPhone 5s in June and my iOS app collection from my iPod Touch (2nd gen), iPad 2 & iPad mini made the switch pretty much seamless. I’m making this post inspired by a similar annual exercise by M G Siegler, and hope to study my usage over time. I do still have my Galaxy S3, but that hasn’t managed to become my primary phone in 2.5 years

So, here goes my list of apps used on the iPhone (in the order featured in the screenshot):

  • The first party Apple icons are self explanatory as expected. That said, I also use Dropbox, Google+ and OneDrive for my photo backups in addition to iCloud.
  • Checkmark 2 is mainly for my location based reminders (Apple’s solution is pretty poor in this regard), and also for general lists
  • Alarmed (a free clone of Due) is one of my favourite reminder apps due to its extensive options for setting event repeats (x days from completion being the killer feature for me). Plus it also supports creation of timers and iCloud sync (hasn’t been updated for iOS 8 though).
  • Whatsapp is my preferred mode of exchanging online messages with my friends & family.
  • Mailbox is mainly for managing Gmail (and no, I don’t have an Inbox invite).
  • Paper for browsing facebook, though I still have the main app as lots of apps use it for login.
  • Wikipanion to look up stuff on wikipedia, an app I’ve carried over from my iPad. The history feature makes it more convenient than the integrated Spotlight search or using the browser.
  • Olacabs is pretty much the Indian take on Uber, and their recent support for the Mumbai Kaali Peeli taxis has made the app more useful than ever. Plus their mini AC cab service is a just hair costlier than the Kaali Peeli and they don’t have any premium for night time rides.
  • Google Maps is pretty much the defacto map app for India, and I use it to check traffic before leaving office every day to choose the route to take home.
  • Day One is my go to app for daily journal entries, and it is one of the reasons why my online posts (blog, facebook, twitter) has actually gone down. This is a paid app, but I picked it up during Apple’s app store celebration giveaway. That said, I did purchase the Mac version for my office MacBook, albeit at a discount.
  • Chrome pips Safari to the browser slot due to its cross platform capabilities since I do use the Galaxy S3 and a Windows laptop at home where its sync functionality comes in handy.
  • Argus is a decent fitness app, but I just use to track my daily step count against a goal of 5000 steps. I had also purchased MotionX 24/7 for this purpose and did find its idle reminder handy, but it turned out to be a bit of a drain on the battery in spite of the M7. I’ve also tried quite a few other similar apps like Move, Breeze, Human etc, and each has their strong points. With the Apple Watch coming out soon, I have a suspicion that this area is going to get an overhaul.
  • Camera+ is my secondary camera app after Apple’s, mainly for those backlighting situations, and when I want to get the horizon level.
  • Shazam has taken over from Soundhound for song identification due to its better record with Hindi songs. I still have Soundhound though, and its active lyrics can be pretty handy.
  • Accompli has taken over from Mail & Cloudmagic as my office mail client that’s based on Exchange. The integrated calendar feature is quite handy, and so is the attachment section. Microsoft’s purchase of the software only increases the likelihood that it’s going to become even more handy as an Exchange client.
  • MoneyBook is probably the oldest of the lot and one of the first apps that I purchased (for my iPod touch). It’s a pretty simple expense tracker with a nice interface and online backup capabilities.

This of course leaves out the tons of games that I’ve played on my iPad, but does overlap with some apps on my Galaxy S3. A shoutout to some of my other useful apps like Zomato, OneNote, Swarm, Numerous that I use on specific occasions. I’m sure this list will look somewhat different as more apps start leveraging the iOS 8 features and then there’s of course Apple Watch.

Thinking about the next iPhone

The rumour mill is really heating up, and there have been quite a few leaks showing a larger iPhone. Healthkit is also getting more features in the new betas, including built in support for step counting.

What will be more interesting this time will be what Apple does with the internals, particularly the SoC and camera. On the SoC front, we’ve been stuck on the 28nm node for almost a couple of years, and they’ve already played the 64-bit card to improve performance last year. Maybe they’ll astound everyone by announcing that the new SoC (A8?) is fabricated on Intel’s facilities on their next-gen 14nm process. In fact, even using Intel’s mature 22nm process would be pretty revolutionary. There have been regular rumours of such partnerships over the last few years, so maybe this is the year of the switch?

On the camera front, the decreasing thickness of the iPhones will surely limit the sensor size & optics. The 5s was probably the limit for the 8MP sensor size. This is going to be a really interesting area as Apple has thus far never traded off device aesthetics for camera specs.

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.