For those of us who spend our days covering the tech world, Apple has always been a conundrum. So I'm not going to pretend I know exactly what sort of announcement the company is planning to make tomorrow at its Cupertino headquarters. What we do know is that it will be related to a long overdue software development kit (SDK) for the popular iPhone. But personally, I hope tomorrow's press event will include a few more things.
Yes, I realize that the whole point of an SDK is to let third-party programmers write apps for the platform, but Apple's work on the iPhone/iPod Touch platform is far from finished. Notably, the company has a moral obligation to integrate an iCal-friendly To Do feature into its little mobile buddies. I have a hard time believing that there isn't a single person at Apple who actually needs to get things done, and it's well past time they built this painfully absent feature into the iPhone and iPod Touch.
Also nice would be a port of iChat, both for iPod Touch users on Wi-Fi and iPhone users. Sure, it's nice that iPhones format SMS messages as iChat-style discussions, but as more of us have begun to build IM into our daily business lives, the ability to chat with our colleagues on the road just as we would at our desks has begun to make real business sense. Plus, it would be fun.
And of course, Apple needs to give us a little check box in iTunes for syncing notes between our mobile devices and our desktops. The half-baked Notes feature in Apple Mail really doesn't do the trick, and even if it did, it would only serve users who actually have Macs. This one seems like a no-brainer to me.
Ultimately, whether Apple releases these apps itself or not, third party developers will jump in and plug these gaps. Some have already done so with Web apps. But Web apps don't work on airplanes or anywhere else that you can't get a cellular signal. Plus, Apple wouldn't have left such obvious features out of Mac OS X, and I'd like to see the company fill these holes for itself.
Thanks to an early heads-up from AT&T, we've all known for months that a 3G iPhone is in the works. And frankly, the fact that the original device was rolled out with EDGE instead was both shocking and disappointing. We've all waited long enough to see how this thing can perform on a true third-generation network, so c'mon already.
Apple's exclusive deal with AT&T must have seemed like a good idea on paper before the product was announced, but by now Jobs & Company really ought to be thinking up a way to weasel out of that contract. After all, it's probably the single biggest hurdle that keeps most of us who've not yet purchased an iPhone (and would like to) from running out and grabbing one.
For those whose phone choice is dictated by which carrier their employer has signed on with, or whose entire family is already embedded with a carrier other than AT&T, the lure of cool cannot break through the shackles practicality. But if Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile customers could simply swap out their handset for an iPhone, I'm guessing a lot of users would jump at the chance.