iPhone 5 To Be An Overhaul; iOS To Be Refresh

The tech media agrees that the 2012 iPhone 5 will constitute a hardware overhaul. But will this year’s WWDC yield only a refresh of iOS 5?

The iPhone community likes to think in patterns. Last year, the late arrival and partial letdown of the iPhone 4S in the Fall threw iPhone users for a double loop, since no one saw a late release and refresh on the horizon. But last year’s paradigm change has established a new perceived pattern: Apple seems content with an overhaul-refresh-overhaul-refresh pattern for its iPhone iterations.

In spite of these disruptions in the iPhone cosmos, one thing stayed true to form: the 2011 WWDC featured the release of a new mobile operating system — iOS 5 — which turned out to be a significant overhaul of iOS, and the centerpiece of the iPhone 4S’s innovations. At the very least, we can seemingly count on the WWDC to reveal a new, bold iOS each year.

But an interesting article from Beatweek today suggests otherwise. Bill Palmer remarks: “Apple requires significant advance seeding for an entirely new iteration of iOS (the comparatively minor iOS 5.1 is now in its third beta with more to come), meaning that iOS 6 testing would need to commence very shortly if it is to be ready for a summer iPhone 5 launch. More likely would be that a summer iPhone 5 would come with a less ambitious iOS 5.5 operating system, which Apple would hand-wave by pointing to the fact that the iPhone 5 would be arriving a mere eight or nine months after iOS 5.0 debuted with the iPhone 4S late last year.”

This is an interesting point by Beatweek. Way to go, Bill Palmer!

Back in November, the iPhone 5 News Blog reported on a rumor that the iPhone 5 may not feature Siri as we know it on the iPhone 4S, but rather a much more robust, advanced voice recognition engine, dubbed “Assistant.” At the heart of Assistant would be the rollout of iOS 6 in 2012. However, if Bill Palmer is right, a shorter timeframe for the iPhone 5 release could disqualify the chance for a completely redesigned iOS. iOS 5.5 could see a nominal set of additions, as well as better battery performance on the software side, but no groundbreaking bells and whistles.

This could also potentially affect the possibility of NFC showing up on the iPhone 5, as we discussed yesterday on the Blog.

In the end, however, a less impressive iOS might be more than acceptable, should the iPhone 5 deliver on the big hardware changes that iPhone users of jonesing for. You’ll recall that a survey conducted not long after the release of the iPhone 4S indicated that consumers were most disappointed that the iPhone 4S didn’t have LTE, followed by a larger screen and new form factor. Therefore,  if Apple manages to deliver on these three big features, an iOS 5.5 might be overlooked.

By Michael Nace



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