The big announcement during the WWDC keynote was the release of iOS 9, and now this mobile operating system has given us clues to future Apple hardware devices. The WWDC show has become a little more low-key over the years, as Apple has instead chosen to make its major hardware announcements at specialist events. But as developers get to grips with the code of the new iOS 9 release, it appears that there are elements within it that offer very significant clues about future Apple products.
iOS 9 – multitasking and the iPad Pro
Of all the known features of iOS 9, the simultaneous multitasking that is possible through the software would obviously be compatible with an iPad Pro design. This extremely high spec tablet has been predicted for some time, although Apple has remained predictiably taciturn on the subject. But during its keynote presentation at the San Francisco conference, Craig Federighi, SVP of Software Engineering at Apple, showcased the abilities of this new mobile operating system to run applications side-by-side. This would obviously favor the high-end tablet that has been extremely long awaited.
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Simultaneous multitasking was introduced in Windows 7, and the implementation of this feature in iOS 9 is extremely similar to this Microsoft innovation. Users can drag applications to the edge of iPhone or iPad screen, and also run apps parallel to one another. Federighi demonstrated that the Photos app can be opened on one side of a device, while the Messages app runs in a smaller pane on the right side of the display.
This will save time and effort for users of Apple devices, and it will be introduced in the existing Apple range in the coming weeks. However, it would make even more sense for the poorly kept secret which is the iPad Pro. This tablet has long been expected to debut with a 13-inch display, providing tablet fans with a huge amount of screen space in order to view content. Indeed, the iPad Pro is potentially over 30 percent larger than the iPad Air display, and getting on for twice as large as the iPad Mini 3.
Another feature that Apple announced as being part of the iOS 9 makeup is superior support for hardware keyboards. With the existing iPad and iPad Mini models, third-party cables are already available from a range of technology manufacturers. But a superior hardware keyboard for the iPad Pro would help transform the tablet into a serious computer, something that could then be utilized for tasks at corporate work, as well as just the sort of casual usage which is associated with tablets.
This could incentivize Apple to manufacture a dedicated keyboard for the iPad Pro, which would enable this hotly anticipated tablet to compete in the hybrid space alongside existing devices such as the Lenovo ThinkPad 10, Microsoft Surface 3, Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 and Asus Transformer Book T100HA. The iPad is already seen as a high-class content creation tool, but such a relatively simple addition as a quality keyboard could greatly enhance this reputation.
Not only would this be an attractive characteristic for fans of the iPad series, but it would also make commercial sense for Apple. The release of the iPhone 6 Plus phablet has tended to eat into the profits of the iPad range, and providing features which mark it out as qualitatively different from the popular iPhone 6 Plus would obviously be in Apple’s interests.
The iPad Pro would also be a natural companion for the Force Touch functionality. This first came to the Apple stable when the Apple Watch was released, and is expected to become an increasingly important part of Apple devices in the future. It was particularly noticeable that Apple made no mention of iOS 9 supporting either Bluetooth mouses or trackpads, so it is possible that the corporation has Force Touch functionality in mind to operate this new tablet.
It certainly sounds as if based on the information that we have from Apple so far that there would be no trackball included with the iPad Pro, which would suggest that it could be operated differently to existing tablet devices.
iPhone 7 and camera specs
Code buried deep in the iOS 9 operating system also suggested that the next iPhone could provide a front-facing flash. Previously such features have been limited to rear-facing cameras in the iPhone series, with the front-facing units typically of a relatively low quality. However, some diligent snooping carried out by Apple developers has located a sector of code that will apparently enable people to take selfies in the dark in the future.
Aside from this ability, the same sector of code within iOS 9 also suggests that the phone will benefit from a significant upgrade to video capturing capabilities. It seems probable based on this information that the iPhone 7 will have a 1080p camera, and the 720p video capturing capabilities of the smartphone will increase to 240 frames per second. With support for panoramic selfies and slow motion video also implied, it is clear from the barebones of iOS 9 that Apple intends to significantly improve the front-facing camera in the device.
It has been a goal of Apple for some time to improve the rear-facing camera in the iPhone, with the consumer electronics giant recently promoting this in a series of commercials. It also seems that there will be something of a battle in the rear-camera department in this next generation of smartphones, as Samsung has also been linked with producing an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera when it releases the Galaxy Note 5 this year.
As developers continue to dig around in this significant mobile operating system, we’ll probably gain more insight into what can be expected from future Apple devices. For the time being, fans of Apple and the iPad and iPhone series at least have some notion of what we can expect from forthcoming critical device releases.