Apple has settled into a nice pattern recently. The iPad, dominates its market with a sleek, subtly changing, tablet with metal and gloss in all the right places. The iPhone 4 generation has that striking metal band and flat surfaces. But both are getting on a bit in design terms in a fast-evolving market. So, what can Apple bring to its next generation devices to add some magic?
A New Finishing Touch
The iPhone has a fierce magnetic attraction for design types, ignoring the millions of sales and huge revenue generation. As an icon, it is up there with Ferrari, Dyson, Renzo Piano architecture and Syd Meads futurism. It also makes phone calls, who knew!
With the Samsung Galaxy SIII (to be unveiled soon) likely to feature a ceramic surface, the move for high-end smartphones is now firmly into the exotic. The iPhone has changed from plastic to metal and glass, it has tapered, then rounded and squared out, in its brief life. What next for the diminutive device?
Certain factors dictate the basics of its shape, but with endless budget and a reputation to uphold, Sir Jony Ive and his laboratory elves will be looking to do something different for the next model to keep iPhone firmly on top of the pile and a "must have" icon rather than just a "could have" gadget.
Cooking With Ceramics
Keeping in mind Ive's maxim, "it's very easy to be different, but difficult to be better," what will the company turn to as it strives to reach new heights? The use of ceramics has been growing rapidly over recent decades, from kitchen knives to ball bearings and body armor, it is getting everywhere due to its light weight and greater resistance to wear.
While it has a reputation as a brittle substance, advances in construction and coatings are likely to have overcome this and silicon nitride ceramics are claimed to be light and easy to hold, something of an advantage over those slippery shiny surfaces.
Melting With Metal
Liquid metal is a magical secretive alloy, word is that it includes a range of metals including zirconium, titanium, nickel, and copper (that might not go down well with the environmental lobby). However, Apple has patents in the technology and a commercial arrangement with LiquidMetal Technologies, the company spun to sell CalTech's original invention.