Today, Apple launched the iPhone 4S. Before delving too deep into analysis you can read more about the announcement here (or really on any tech site on the web). Today’s announcement reinforced many of the themes discussed in my blog post after WWDC but opened the door to many new questions.
Will Apple allow developers to integrate Siri and other new features (such as Find my Friends) into their applications?
Allowing developers to tap into Siri for enhanced interface (and AI) with users as well as enabling Siri to search or access applications (as demonstrated with Yelp and accomplished in Nuance’s Dragon Go app) could be a game changer and could help usher in a next generation of apps for Apple. However, Apple isn’t the only company to offer a voice interface and voice has failed to change app development on other platforms so it may simply be moot. But Apple has a way of bringing the niche mainstream and doing so again could see Apple’s app store propel ahead of the competition but provide the impetus for developers to improve their apps across the mobile ecosystem.
Will new apps that use dual core and other new hardware be backward compatible?
As always, developers (and Apple) will be faced with the challenge of backward compatibility. Apple has managed expectations well so far and worked with developers so that many new apps both take advantage of new hardware but still offer some backward compatibility. Epic Games did this with its Infinity Blade game on iPad and iPhone. But with iPhone 3G, 4, and 4S on the market Apple runs the risk of having many new apps not serving the aging product line and suffer the same challenges Android faces in having apps that support so many different versions of Android.
Could the inclusion of Nike+ be a harbinger of Nano-specific applications?
While the iPod Nano will never match the cache of the iPhone product line the addition of Nike+ to the device gives hope that a small but highly curated store of Nano apps could emerge. The result won’t be big revenue for Apple but it could make the Nano more broadly attractive while providing an outlet for developers to build innovative apps that interact across screens (or sell re-packaged apps that just work on the nano).
What happened to Apple TV?
Tim Cook noted that Apple would be discussing their four product lines; iPod, iPhone, iPad, and Mac. While Apple TV has always been deemed a hobby by Apple, its exclusion indicates that Apple like Google is still struggling to crack the TV market. A targeted approach with iOS, a collection of customized TV apps, and iCloud could allow it to accomplish this – in time.
Apple continues to evolve the iOS operating system to offer both incremental improvements while introducing new technology such as Siri. While Apple is smart to give consumers time to acclimate to voice technology before giving developers the opportunity to integrate it into apps it should be a long term plan realized by the time the iPhone 5 is announced sometime in 2012. But for now, the apps landscape remains as it was before - with Apple garnering the lion's share of submissions and everyone else playing catch-up.