Another year, another WWDC. Unfortunately, it seems that we won't be seeing an exciting new iPhone release, but we have been hearing about some potentially awesome updates to iOS. We talked about some of those rumored features in this week's PhoneDog Live along with an interesting new release from Asus and we addressed the topic of manufacturers and carriers turning popular featurephones into smartphones. Is it a good idea? What does it mean for the future of featurephones?
Its lack of multi-tasking has aided iOS in maintaining high performance and the absence of a complicated notification system or potentially screen-cluttering widgets enabled the iPhone to remain simple yet polished and alluring. However, it appears that Apple can no longer rely on half-way conceding to its customers. People want true multi-tasking, not app-switching, a notification system that can deliver what Android and webOS offer, and widgets.
Will Apple listen? It seems as though the thought has at least crossed their mind. Rich Dellinger, who invented the notification system for webOS, recently joined Apple. In February, Cult of Mac reported that Apple was working to acquire a company that developed an app designed to simulate a notification system on the iPhone. Now it is being reported that Apple hired Peter Hajas, someone who developed a notification system for jailbroken iPhones. Apple has also filed for patents that involve creating a system of widgets. TechCrunch recently reported that iOS 5 would have "completely revamped notifications and widgets". Apple fans, rejoice! We discussed some design concepts and other features rumored for iOS 5 during the broadcast which you can check out in the full video. (The video description contains a timeline of when each topic was discussed.)
Moving on to Android news, Asus recently announced an interesting new device. It's called the Padfone and it's essentially a phone that can also function as a tablet when docked in a tablet shell. (The tablet shell doesn't function on its own.) The phone will apparently ship with Android Ice Cream Sandwich, a version that is designed to run on both phones and tablets. There are some obvious pros and cons to this idea. A few pros are the tablet shell acts as a charger so you get even longer battery life out of the phone, and you won't need two separate data plans since the tablet is a shell only. A downside is you're not quite getting a tablet and a phone but rather a phone and a shell so you can't actually use both at the same time or even separately, something a lot of people do. Also, we can only imagine what this is going to cost or what sort of gimiky plan the carriers are going to add on since the two devices share a data plan. AT&T required a nonsense tethering plan with the Atrix and its laptop dock so I expect something like that.
I'm not quite as skeptical as others seem to be about the Padfone. It reminds me a lot of the Transformer, also released by Asus. Some people will love the idea and find that it is very useful to them and others won't see the need for it and will go with something else. It's just another option, that's all. And you know we all love options.
Also this week, we saw a few new Android smartphones in the rumor mill. Two of them caught my eye: the Samsung Gravity Smart and an unnamed Sharp device. The Gravity Smart was originally a featurephone and the mysterious Sharp device looks like a revamped Sharp FX, also a featurephone. This seems to be a popular trend, taking popular featurephones and turning them into smartphones. T-Mobile did it with the Sidekick, LG did it with the enV Pro, now the Genesis on U.S. Cellular, and now we have two more featurephones that will be gone. The featurephone market is shrinking. Not only are manufacturers not creating new featurephones, carriers are intentionally removing featurephones from their line-up by turning them into smartphones. This is a deliberate effort.
Now, I know that "most" people have smartphones these days. I know the stats. However, even if 90% of consumers had smartphones (and the number isn't that high, this is just for argument's sake) the 10% of people that did still use featurephones deserve to have premium featurephone options. Not everyone wants a smartphone. Not everyone can afford a decent smartphone. It's a shame that manufacturers and carriers refuse to deliver great products to ALL of their customers.
If you'd like to watch the next episode of PhoneDog Live, we'll be broadcasting every Friday at 5 p.m. ET from our Ustream channel. You can watch it directly from Ustream or from our Facebook page. This week's show is available to watch on our YouTube channel.