Apple's work on iOS 6.0 continues at speed, ahead of June's WWDC event with new snippets of information suggesting some big changes. Meanwhile those stories about the mini iPad refuse to die down.
Software Features are the Future
Atractive and practical software features are the key to future smartphone sales, as the screen resolutions, processor speeds and other hardware hit their practical maximums. As the recent Samsung Galaxy S III launch showed, companies are looking at improved software to differentiate their devices as the specs (in the high-end at least) become much of a muchness.
Word is that Apple will be introducing a 3D maps application to join an improved Siri among stand out features for iOS 6.0, which is likely to be unveiled at the Worldwide Developer Conference. A rumor-heavy story with a mock-up image describes this "incredible feature" but it has some substance, as Apple has been moving from Google Maps to its own creation (or at least one made by companies that Apple has since acquired).
While it might look good, and be slightly more practical than flat maps, it hardly sounds like an essential feature. Also, it will only work territories where suitable photography exists, so it might not be a worldwide feature, rather like Siri which is horribly feature-limited in some countries. That means Apple will be hampered selling it as a feature in some markets.
Serious About Siri
Siri has had several small upgrades over her short life, but expectations for improved features are high for WWDC. For a start, many of the features American users enjoy need to be rolled out around the world.
Greater interaction with the iPhone and other apps is one of the common demands for Siri. Perhaps a voice-activated wake-up mode (as seen in the Galaxy S III) is an obvious move. But, the ability to interact with more apps, including third party tools, which would require Apple opening up the API, is also very high on the list.
As for iOS 6.0 itself, Apple is long overdue for a revamp of the iOS interface, will WWDC bring us a new way to work with those icons and folders? Will some useful features buried in the Settings be made more accessible and will there be further improvements in the notifications system. We saw at BlackBerry's developer event that small tweaks, coming to BB10, can get a very positive response from users, and it is in the fine detail that Apple often excels.
More Mini Rumors See the "Price" Heading Down
We covered this last month, but over the few weeks since, even more snippets have crept out about this potential market killer. A cheap iPad could see massive sales and kill pretty much all attempts by rivals to launch competing products.
The latest rumors surround a target price of between $200 to $250 which seems to be gaining more credence since the first stories came out. That price, coming with a Retina screen that matches the full-size model's resolution and just 8GB of RAM (buffered by easy access to iCloud), would render most other tablet efforts as non-starters, except for those sold to the fervently anti-Apple market.
Of course, with sales of Amazon's Kindle Fire now apparently on the slide, Apple could be happily laughing at all these stories, with no intention of diluting the iPad brand. Even so, if Apple does want to destroy any competition, this seems the way to go.