new iphone “mini” being tested on apple campus?

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    Posted: 13 January 2011 01:44 AM

    http://www.bgr.com/2011/01/12/exclusive-apple-will-remove-home-button-on-next-ipad-and-iphone-photo-booth-and-ilife-coming/

    In the above link it is claimed that apple is testing new ipad & iphone models which get rid of the home button.

    Im not so sure that this will proceed past the early testing stage - would seem to be tricky thing to have to do while using apps that use similar gestures itself.

    However, the concept of a iphone without a home button could be a hint at the long suggested possible iphone “mini”. For example imagine an iphone 4 with the same size screen but with a much reduced bezel surrounding it - if you didn’t need the home button then the difference in size would be quite dramatic.

    I think this is something apple would rather have as there low end model, rather than having last years model at $99 the next year - instead have the iphone mini selling at the $99 point with a similar processor/graphics to the full size iphones at $199/$299 - but with smaller storage capacity, lower res camera and only 3G radios (while the full size iphone would include 4G). Possibly adds an extra product at a different time of year as well to help even out sales and product rampups (update the full size iphone in June, do the iphone mini in September with the ipods or in March with the ipad).

    This would be a way to expand the line to 2 new models a year (double the press), reduce component costs, and hopefully improve margins.

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    Posted: 13 January 2011 01:48 AM #1

    Not to mention the multi-tasking.  :bugeyed:  I think the home button has become ingrained with the product.

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    Posted: 13 January 2011 01:59 AM #2

    Ah - but with the iOS beta for iPad, it’s a four or five-finger chord to bring up the multi-tasking menu.  I really hope that trickles down to the iPhone.  Apple could also use existing buttons - hold the sleep/wake switch to bring up new slider options, for example.

    You can check out the iOS 4.3 beta on Mac Rumors.  That is some seriously awesome optimization, especially the app switching.  It’s stunningly seamless.

    Also, iPod nano is meant to be navigated without any physical buttons.

    So a more multi-touch focused iPhone wouldn’t be an issue.  It’s horsepower, battery life, fitting a Retina Display, making sure it’s a no-compromises iPhone (at least in all the ways that count).

    [ Edited: 13 January 2011 02:13 AM by Mav ]

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    Posted: 13 January 2011 02:19 AM #3

    adamthompson3232 - 13 January 2011 05:50 AM

    I don’t think another iPhone model should even be considered until Apple is able to meet global demand for the current model. Perhaps in three years this will be considered.

    Wouldn’t another new model on new production lines actually help meet demand?

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    Posted: 13 January 2011 02:28 AM #4

    This year, Apple will have its hands full with iPhone 4 CDMA variants and two-flavor iPhone 5 variants (I’m assuming for now that they’ll stick with iPhone 5 GSM and iPhone 5 CDMA rather than combining, in part because China Mobile uses a different CDMA variant).  iPhone sales growth this year looks to be very, very big.  Unless Apple has the confidence and capacity, better to focus on the flagship iPhone 5 and the “cheap” iPhone 4 for now.

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  • Posted: 13 January 2011 02:33 AM #5

    iOSWeekly - 13 January 2011 05:44 AM

    ...it is claimed that apple is testing new ipad & iphone models which get rid of the home button.

    If Steve is to be believed then the iPad was in development before the release of the iPhone. I would think, secretive though they are, Apple would be testing all sorts of variations. These boxes don’t appear fully formed and real world testing is required to avoid issues like last years antenna fun.

    That being said gestures such as the ones that Apple have appeared to introduce in the new iPad version of iOS seem a bit off. Five finger gestures are all well and good but you might not have five fingers, heaven forbid, you might not have four.

    Do we really think that Apple, a company known for it’s work on innovative solutions for physically impaired people wouldn’t have thought this through? Is there enough space on the smaller iOS devices to do four and five finger gestures - especially when you get to my size and age?

    With a stand you can currently do most of the things you want to do on an iPad with one finger. That is very appealing to those people who found a keyboard too intimidating.

    A lot was made at CES that some of the new tablets had no buttons and required gestures to control. I think this rumor is spread to plant the seeds that “Apple are copying other’s ideas”. The home button is too convenient, too Apple, for Apple to drop.

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    Posted: 13 January 2011 02:41 AM #6

    Apple can get around the home button in several ways.  They can repurpose existing buttons (hold down sleep/wake in case of panic, home button becomes volume up/down key combination, etc.).  They can add buttons that take up less space (home button on side of unit, like another sleep/wake switch…and it could be a dedicated camera button too!).  They can add “buttons” you can’t see (the multitouch strip on the bezel, for example).  They can repurpose the accelerometer (shake to go home).  They can finally really start realizing the potential of Voice Control (say “Home” at any time and back you go).  None as elegant as the Home button itself, but you see where I’m going.

    That’s the beauty of Apple’s iOS design.  If needed, the hardware keys can be made to change their functions (see the taketh away and giveth back with the iPad orientation lock switch)

    [ Edited: 13 January 2011 02:43 AM by Mav ]

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    Posted: 13 January 2011 02:44 AM #7

    It just seems very un-apple like to be selling an outdated model every year - Its much more applelike to offer brand new models at different price points with different features (ipod & ipod nano, macbook pro & macbook, imac & mac mini). in the consumers mind, those on a tighter budget still feel like they can purchase up to date apple products, rather than some 1+ year old technology.

    I think the margins on apples $99 iphones are probably pretty close to the $199 iphones, I would expect anything replacing the low end phone to be the same.

    Having said all that, i now remember that I have contradicted myself numerous times recently by predicting that apple will keep the ipad 1 around at $399 after ipad 2 has been released.

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  • Posted: 13 January 2011 02:49 AM #8

    iOSWeekly - 13 January 2011 06:44 AM

    It just seems very un-apple like to be selling an outdated model every year

    Try telling that to the Mac Pro owners - how long has it been since that enclosure has changed?

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  • Posted: 13 January 2011 04:19 AM #9

    I thought we were living in the age of the $49 3gs? Why all this talk about a $99 iPhone?

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    Posted: 13 January 2011 05:25 AM #10

    Mav - 13 January 2011 06:41 AM

    Apple can get around the home button in several ways.  They can repurpose existing buttons (hold down sleep/wake in case of panic, home button becomes volume up/down key combination, etc.).  They can add buttons that take up less space (home button on side of unit, like another sleep/wake switch…and it could be a dedicated camera button too!).  They can add “buttons” you can’t see (the multitouch strip on the bezel, for example).  They can repurpose the accelerometer (shake to go home).  They can finally really start realizing the potential of Voice Control (say “Home” at any time and back you go).  None as elegant as the Home button itself, but you see where I’m going.

    That’s the beauty of Apple’s iOS design.  If needed, the hardware keys can be made to change their functions (see the taketh away and giveth back with the iPad orientation lock switch)

    One thing I still do as a clumsy, recent adopter of the iPhone, is touch the screen when it’s off to get it on again. Tapping it like a dumb rat in an experiment seeking more cocaine that never comes. It annoys me that I have to hit a physical button to turn it on. I know it saves power, but it is non-intuitive.

    And why not just have a “home icon”? Hit it with your thumb and maybe a submenu pops up and you use your index finger to choose.

    Lookout Jon Ive, I’m comin’ to getchya!

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    Posted: 13 January 2011 07:03 AM #11

    JDSoCal - 13 January 2011 09:25 AM

    And why not just have a “home icon”? Hit it with your thumb and maybe a submenu pops up and you use your index finger to choose.

    Ditto earlier comments about people without all their fingers. My wife just bought some gloves that have little metal pads on the thumb and index finger for operating iOS devices in the cold. A paradigm based around a single finger is very Apple and will always require a *few* basic buttons.  I do like the *option* to speed the process with several more fingers. iOS 4.3 video looks like fun, very smooth and intuitive.

    If memory serves, Apple had a patent application for a layered approach to visual alerts. Several LEDs would sit under a touch surface and shine through cutouts in the bezel. For example, a badge would light up if you received new text or email messages, but because it was under the glass it would only be visible if illuminated.  At the time of the report, folks seemed to like this better than constantly turning their iPhone on just to discover they had no new mail.

    Keeping the screen active enough to accept a wake gesture would likely cause significant battery drain, something even less acceptable on a ‘mini’ device with smaller battery to begin with. An illuminated home zone backlit LED spot on the bezel would help solve that problem, but why not invoke Occam’s Razor and just keep the simpler button?

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  • Posted: 13 January 2011 01:25 PM #12

    First, I don’t think Apple is coming out with a “mini” phone or iPad. It’s not necessary and it’s not practical.

    Second, I don’t think the home button is going away. But it COULD go away for two reasons:

    1) Apple is obsessed with size. Removing the home button would allow for the phone to be much smaller (1/2 an inch?) in length.

    2) The new 4.3 touch gestures.

    I’m very excited about the new touch gestures. I think everybody agrees that while Apple’s implementation of multi-tasking works, it’s clumsy, clunky, unintuitive, very un-Apple like. I think Apple may really have something with their new gestures.

    a) To reach the multi-tasking application bar you take four or five fingers and swipe up on the screen. This duplicates the functionality of the double-click on the home button, but, once learned, it is much more intuitive and only requires a single gesture.

    b) You return to the home screen from anywhere by “pinching” the entire screen with five fingers. Again, this duplicates the functionality of the home button but it is very quick and very intuitive.

    c) You “scroll” through your active applications by swiping left or right using four or five buttons. This is a real breakthrough. Again, it duplicates the functionality of the home button, but with the home button you have to double-click the home button, scroll through the menu of applications and click on the desired application. The four/five finger swipe is an improvement in three ways: It’s a very natural motion, it’s super quick- you just swipe with four or five fingers, and I think the metaphor of scrolling through recently used applications, one after the other, simply matches exactly the way the brain thinks things should work.

    Notice that those three gesture based moves obviate the need for a home button. I don’t know how you turn the phone on, but I guess you could just push the existing on/off button located at the top right of the phone.

    All and all, I am extremely pleased with these new gesture enhancements. I think they help to remove one more layer of abstraction and allow us to focus on what we want to accomplish on our iOS devices instead of thinking about how we are going to accomplish those things.

         
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    Posted: 13 January 2011 01:37 PM #13

    FalKirk - 13 January 2011 05:25 PM

    b) You return to the home screen from anywhere by “pinching” the entire screen with five fingers. Again, this duplicates the functionality of the home button but it is very quick and very intuitive.

    I like being able to use one hand to return to the home screen.  The “five finger swipe” seems cumbersome to me.  Holding the phone in one hand and using all five fingers of the other to swipe would be awkward IMO.

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  • Posted: 13 January 2011 02:24 PM #14

    FalKirk - 13 January 2011 05:25 PM

    All and all, I am extremely pleased with these new gesture enhancements. I think they help to remove one more layer of abstraction and allow us to focus on what we want to accomplish on our iOS devices instead of thinking about how we are going to accomplish those things.

    I’m not quite as convinced Fal, from my early, lightweight tests, the gestures seem a bit clumsy. I might get used to them but I’m not entirely certain.

    Perhaps Apple has weened me off using all my fingers? Trying to use them all again might take some time.

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  • Posted: 13 January 2011 02:27 PM #15

    incorrigible - 13 January 2011 05:37 PM
    FalKirk - 13 January 2011 05:25 PM

    b) You return to the home screen from anywhere by “pinching” the entire screen with five fingers. Again, this duplicates the functionality of the home button but it is very quick and very intuitive.

    I like being able to use one hand to return to the home screen.  The “five finger swipe” seems cumbersome to me.  Holding the phone in one hand and using all five fingers of the other to swipe would be awkward IMO.

    The swipe is either four fingered or five fingered and even on the phone it is very doable and intuitive.

    To return to the home screen you need to do a four or five fingered “pinch”. On the iPad it’s a no-brainer, but on the iPhone it feels a little squeezed. I suspect that in practice one would actually use their pointer, middle, ring finger and thumb and leave the pinky hanging off to the side. And you’re right, it would definitely require two hands. That’s no problem on the iPad, where you have to hold the pad in one hand anyway, but a one handed swipe or pinch on the iPhone is a no-go.

    On the whole, I’m very pleased with the proposed gestures, and they make a great substitute for the home button, but I suspect that Apple will retain the home button as well.