Apple is revealing the “state of play” of its next iPhone firmware–iPhone 3.0–in a special event tomorrow. And gadget-hounds are predictably excited about what goodies the new code will include. Leading the rumor list is a feature that the public’s been literally clamoring for ever since iPhone 1.0.
Copy/paste. This rumor would have surfaced anyway, given how surprising it is that the all-singing, all-dancing phone hasn’t offered this basic feature yet, but this time it comes from Digg founder Kevin Rose. He’s “leaked” or rumored several iPhone improvements in the past that have turned out to be accurate, so there’s momentum behind the cut and paste hopes this time around–especially since Gizmodo claims to have evidence from another source. According to Kevin during a live Diggnation broadcast from SXSW, the function will work pretty similarly to the “magnifying glass” effect for moving the text caret: You’ll simply move two start/end markers around the interesting text, and select “cut” before pasting elsewhere.
MMS. The next hot ticket is multimedia messaging (the ability to incorporate images, audio, video and rich text in your short messages). BoyGeniusReport was tipped off about this feature, and adding MMS functionality only requires a fairly minor software tweak. The iPhone’s hardware is perfectly capable of supporting the format, and it’s surprisingly short-sighted of Apple to not have included it in the first place, given the popularity of the format elsewhere in the World. Rose says he believes there will not be any MMS.
Springboard. Another potential feature is a homepage upgrade–to emulate the “springboard” app launch functionality of the Palm Pre. The iPhone can support huge numbers of apps, but organizing and accessing them from the homepage isn’t always very efficient, hence expectations of a new system. There’s even talk of “categories” for apps.
Background or “push” notifications. This function has had a checkered history. Steve Jobs talked about it early on, but then it practically disappeared from view (except from the iPhone users who have been clamoring for push e-mail). Kevin Rose doesn’t think we’ll see it, other commenters think it’ll be there. It’s a mystery as to whether we’ll see it or not.
Video recording: Nearly every other dumb phone out there does it, but the iPhone doesn’t. Kevin Rose’s sources make him think this isn’t coming in iPhone 3.0 either–but the matter may be more complex than that. The iPhone’s camera isn’t wonderful, and its relative slowness may be a problem of both hardware and software: tweaking the firmware to add video functions may simply not work to Apple’s high standards.
But that’s not to say the next-gen iPhone won’t have a better camera. This also applies to any other functions that may reveal what Apple has in store for the next version of iPhone hardware–things like a magnetometer for compass-based navigation, and more extensive GPS and LBS tricks. That’s why there’s all this excitement about a simple firmware update: It all depends on whether the company chooses to tease the expanded functions of the next-gen phone or not.