At Tuesday's iPhone OS 3.0 preview event, Apple unveiled several new features of the iPhone operating system, including the capability to create applications specifically for interfacing with third-party hardware. Examples given included a five-band EQ interface for speaker docks, or an FM transmitter control that allows you to select broadcast frequencies based on signal strength.
This may sound like a benign little announcement to most people, but as someone who closely monitors trends in iPod accessories, I expect that this will be huge for the industry. What company isn't going to want to differentiate its products with a slick app?
I expect that everything from battery chargers to stereo Bluetooth headsets will (for better or worse) be given the app treatment. The products won't necessarily be any better for it, but the gee-whiz appeal alone will probably carry manufacturers and consumers through to the end of the year.
The nightmare for me is going to be all the apps I'll need to download for each iPod and iPhone accessory I review. Every speaker and every dock will likely require an app download to get the full picture of the product. Version updates for apps will also be a pain. If Altec Lansing hypothetically updates the EQ control on the app for its latest line of speakers, suddenly, I'll need to add a note to all its product pages.
But there are some potentially cool things to come out of hardware-specific applications. Here's what I'm looking forward to seeing:
Buttonless products. Call it the "Shuffle Effect," but if you can migrate all of a product's controls to the iPhone's touch-screen interface, then why have buttons? I'm not saying it's a good idea, necessarily, but the potential makes it inevitable that we'll see a product like this sooner or later.… Read more