We're only a couple of hours away from 10 AM Pacific, when Apple's event for the next iPhone begins. Up until the recent leaks that have all but confirmed what we can expect to hear, there has been wild speculation about what we can expect out of the next generation of devices.
A roundup of leaks and an overview of what to expect can be found here: https://www.macrumors.com/roundup/iphone-8/ but here is a brief summary ( from the above site, with my first thoughts in brackets)).
5.8" OLED display (with Apple's focus on design and visuals this is no big surprise)
Faster A11 processor
Facial Recognition, perhaps replacing Touch ID (Not a fan of this move, as I don't love biometrics in most use cases, and the implications can be frightening, as will be detailed in a later post)
No Home button (Will have to wait and see on the implementation of this - much like the removal of the headphone jack)
Wireless inductive charging (This is something I'm excited about! Let's see how it's implemented)
Three models - One OLED iPhone X, two standard iPhone 8 and 8 Plus (Steve Jobs was famously a fan of simplification of product lines which have a tendency to diverge, so this is one I'm not initially in love with)
But what one thing has seemingly taken a back-seat - ever since the first iPhone, really? The battery.
Of course Apple is famous for working aggressively on power and battery issues and design, but as we will see in a more detailed blog post later, battery tech has allowed us to more or less keep pace with the last couple of generations in terms of expected use we can get out of each charge. As demands on our phones, and the number of pixels, antennas, and connections each device is expected to juggle only grows, most mobile manufacturers have done an admirable job of keeping our phones alive, but I think it's time to start asking for more and taking a serious look at what we want out of our devices.
Like most people my age, cell phones were first introduced to the family as an emergency measure - prohibitive costs and lack of features dictated so. Over the years our relationship with our phones has changed significantly, and the yearning for faster and more make sense given that our mobile devices are increasingly the gateways through which we experience a good chunk of our lives.
But in the quest for faster and thinner, and in between roaming the streets with Pokemon Go and banking on your bank's mobile app, it seems like we've forgotten the obvious: If I'm supposed to be using this thing all day - shouldn't it last all day?
Yes, and then some. Gone are the days when you can grab the phone when heading off for the weekend and be confident if you get stranded on the road you'll be able to call for help. In today's connected world, it's absurd for us all to be living mere hours away from being totally cut off from everyone and everything - its an everyday annoyance but it's also a safety issue - these are lifelines in times of emergency. As we rely on our phones more, it's only going to get more risky. Forget electric vehicles and range anxiety, everyone I know lives with juice anxiety for their phone nearly every day
Will this next generation of iPhones be thinner than the last? Maybe, but how much more thin can they get? Everyone always seems focused on this question and how far Apple can push the limits of modern manufacturing to give us the sleekest device possible. I think it's time people start thinking about this: would you be OK with an iPhone that was much thicker, but a charge could last you significantly longer, even *gasp* multiple days? In informal discussions, the answer with my colleagues seems to be a resounding and exasperated "YES!"
Apple isn't afraid of making gambles when it comes to design and never shies away from telling us how to use our devices - fair enough, this is the company that continually changes the way we interact with technology. A thicker phone with enormous battery isn't a gamble I think they'll be taking this year, but if any company does take the leap .... I'd be first on the pre-order list.
Livestream of the event can be viewed here:
The Ars Technica livestream and blog / commentary can be found here: https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2017/09/liveblog-apples-september-2017-iphone-8-launch/