iPhone Concept Design Part 2

The navvies in the engine room must be heaping even more dogs into the furnace, because the iPhone rumour ship continues full-steam ahead.  Photos, dubious spec-sheets, even full adverts... so what could we expect should Steve have a giftwrapped cellphone come WWDC-day?

Funnily enough, taking a closer look at the exclusive concept images currently gracing SlashGear.com a lot of the lust-factors from the next generation of mobiles are present.  There's the obvious high-res screen, slender body and luxury gloss finish, together with some degree of music playing capability.  The apparent lack of front-mounted camera might count this concept out of video calling, but it's often a "try it once, never use it again" feature thanks to poor quality image and the operators' wallet-goring tariffs.  Most people would be happier saving the bulk, instead making the most of a quality rear-mounted camera to take photos for Picture ID and multimedia messaging.

Obviously concept images can't tell the whole shiny story; stereo A2DP bluetooth support would be a wire-free convenience, making the most of the tweakable sound running through what appears to be a graphic equaliser.  In fact it'd be nice if you could stream to your home stereo, like current aftermarket iPod docks allow you; funnily enough, those seem to be new options on this, the latest concept image.  Web access and email are features that might have started at the high-end but have trickled down to all but the most bargainous of handsets; having an on-screen keyboard, conjured by a simple gesture, would be a space-saving alternative to the hunt & peck thumbboard on chunky smartphones like the Sony Ericsson P990i.  Even better, why not just trace out letters and words on the screen, only to have the phone recognise them – that way, the hunting and the pecking is extinct!

But let's be honest, here.  I could take a shoebox (admittedly a pretty small one) and drop a load of radio gubbins, bluetooth transceivers, screens, flash memory and all the rest into it, but that wouldn't make for a great cellphone.  The key – and, of course, what's making all the Apple fans moist in their down-belows – is the interface, the way that you access all those fancy toys.  And it's the interface in the concept images that's most promising: clean, slick, by turns minimal and yet informative, with that uniquely identifiable and oh-so-inviting scroll wheel.  You can just imagine different controls lighting up as you pause your sweaty digits above them, then activating with each imperious sweep against the screen.  Had enough music, or email, or gaming?  Just gesture an "X" over the screen to close that program.  If you're anything like me then your fingertips are tingling at the very thought of it.

The relationship we have with our gadgets – our cellphones, our iPods, our digital cameras – revolve around how easily we interact with them, how straightforward it is to get the best of their capabilities in the shortest amount of time.  Whatever Apple announce come Monday, its success will depend on that bond of familiar efficiency.

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