As is to be expected of any device that the masses get excited about prior to it actually existing, the iPad has torn the Internet in two. Some love it, seeing it as the first iteration of an eventually world-changing device; others just don’t see a point. “It’s just a big iPhone,” they say, “and I already have an iPhone!”
These iPhone owners are exactly who should be the most excited about the iPad – even if they don’t plan on buying one. Even before its release, the iPad has heralded a number of changes on the way for iPhone OS – and presumably, the iPhone itself.
Now, many of the changes found in the just-released iPad SDK are strictly iPad only. For example, all iPad applications (presumably excluding games) are required to support both landscape and portrait orientations – a requirement which, with some 140,000 apps already made, really wouldn’t be feasible to introduce on the iPhone.
Other changes, however, seem almost certain to trickle down to the iPad’s pocketable brother. Apple’s not officially acknowledging that any of this will find it’s way to the iPhone; as is par for the course for them, they’re not even acknowledging that iPhone OS 3.2 will ever make it to the iPhone, ignoring that the damned thing is called “iPhone OS”.
Here are some of the changes introduced in the iPad that seem likely to make their way over the
iPad Nano iPhone :
Bluetooth Keyboard Support
Finally! We’ve been clamoring for this one for a while now. We were starting to worry when Apple introduced a new, iPad-specific keyboard, but then the good word came straight from the horses mouth:
iPad also comes with Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, letting you connect to devices like wireless headphones or the Apple Wireless Keyboard.
Considering that the Bluetooth stack that the iPhone uses (Qualcomm’s BlueMagic) already supports it, many have assumed that the lack of Bluetooth Keyboard support thus far was either an intentional choice on Apple’s part, or a side effect of the limited Input system (which has been overhauled in OS 3.2, also allowing developers to make custom keyboards within their applications). If the iPad supports Bluetooth keyboards, there’s no reasonable reason why the iPhone won’t – unless, you know, Apple says so.
Desktop file syncing for third party apps:
With iPhone OS 3.2, Apple has introduced a new key called “UIFileSharingEnabled”. As Apple puts it, this means:
Applications with [this key enabled] can share files with the user’s desktop computer. A connected iPad device shows up on the user’s desktop and contains subdirectories for all applications that share files. The user can transfer files in and out of this directory.
In other words, you’ll now be able to drag-and-drop files from your computer into a third party application’s storage folder, as if they are sitting on a standard external hard drive. Imagine being able to build levels for your favorite game in a desktop level editor, then simply dragging those files onto your iPhone to play them.
Apps can identify themselves as supporting specific file types:
Opening files on the iPhone can be a bit of a chore, be it that it’s not a file type the device recognizes out of the box. Even if you’ve installed an application that can read that specific type of file, you’ll need to find a way to get that file into the app’s sandboxed storage space. A lot of applications have implemented clever — albeit hacky — workarounds, but they’re by no means the most user friendly.
The desktop file transferring option mentioned in the last point will help considerably – but what if you need to launch a file that’s been emailed to you?
As it currently stands, you can’t launch a file from an email into a third party application – but on iPhone OS 3.2, you can do just that. Did work just send you an obscure type of file that only one app can read? Don’t sweat it – just make sure the app is installed, open the email, and launch the attachment.
It’s not clear yet whether or not you can override defaults, allowing third party applications to launch files the iPad already supports.
PDF Creation Support:
When you’re working on the go — with the iPad’s iWork apps, for example — you don’t really have time to worry about whether or not people will be able to open the files you’re creating. That’s where PDFs come in; while they’re not without their faults, PDFs will open (and more importantly, look exactly the same) on just about every modern computer.
Apple had to build PDF creation functionality for iWork – but rather than keeping it for themselves, they went and built it into the operating system. Any iPad developer looking to add PDF creation support can do so without having to write the system from scratch.
Apple’s 1Ghz A4 Processor:
Over the past few months, smart phone manufacturers have successfully jammed blazingly fast 1 Ghz chips into their handsets. Take the Nexus One, for example; inside Google’s much-hyped handset is a 1Ghz CPU chipset called “Snapdragon”.
During the iPad announcement, Apple disclosed that the tablet was running on a custom-built 1Ghz processor. It doesn’t take too much much conjecturing to figure out where Apple’s probably going with this; the competition is starting to jam 1Ghz chips into their smartphones, and now Apple has one of their own. Put one and one together, and it sure seems likely that the next iPhone will be clocking in at 1Ghz.
So what do you think? Is the iPad a sign of the things to come for the iPhone? Sound off in the comments below.