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We're a few months away from Apple showing anything off at their Worldwide Developers Conference, but that doesn't mean we can't already get a few sneak peeks of what the company has in store for us later this year. As is par for the course, the spigot has already been turned on and we're starting to see our first rumored images of what we should expect in the next version of iOS, already dubbed iOS 8. Seeing as we're closer to WWDC than we are the iPhone's specific announcement date, it's no surprise that we're seeing a lot more of the software now than we are the hardware, but this is one of those years where the hardware may be the most impressive part of Apple's big unveil this year.

We all know how the refresh cycle for the Cupertino-based company works. And we shouldn't expect anything different this year.

Yes, Apple's going to make changes to iOS and update plenty of things, add new features, and probably throw in a few stock apps for good measure, but this year it's going to be about hardware more than software. Apple's obviously going to make a big deal about iOS 8 when they're showing it off later this year, and talk about the updates like their hugely impressive and must-have, while wrapping up their new features and apps in a shiny bow to make people want them. (And it'll work.)

For me, though, I'm not expecting much about iOS 8 to wow me.

The changes they made to iOS 7 with the launch of iOS 7.1 are great, and I actually like using iOS again because of them, but it also showed me much of what iOS 8 is going to be, too: refinements, focused on speed, accessibility and functionality. iOS 8 isn't going to look much different than iOS 7.1, if at all, with key features added to the mix to make the update worthwhile.

But the star of the show, a few months after iOS 8's unveiling, is going to be the next iPhone. The phone itself. This is the year that we get to see a refreshed hardware design, and this year feels different than previous ones. The iPhone 6, or whatever they end up calling it, just has this air around it that we're finally going to see a bigger iPhone. There have been rumors about bigger iPhones for quite some time now, but the iPhone 5 showed us Apple is finally starting to pay attention to the market, and I believe the iPhone 6 is going to continue that trend.

Will we see multiple new iPhones? Who knows. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if the iPhone 5c went away, and the iPhone 5s replaced it this year as the "cheaper option" for folks looking to get their hands on an iOS-based phone. That would mean we wouldn't need a lot of new designs, so to speak, and a return to Apple's norm that has worked so well for them in the past.

iOS 8 will be great for iOS enthusiasts, and feature plenty of new things to make those who want Apple's mobile platform want it even more. But, for me, and for a lot of other people out there, this year's about the hardware and we're all hoping that Apple doesn't disappoint our (growing) expectations for the new handset.

If Apple does launch an iPhone with an even bigger display, is this the year that you'll switch to Apple's mobile world? Or are you perfectly okay not using iOS? Let me know if you're more interested in iOS 8 than you are the next iPhone!


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