Apple planning host of iPhone updates before Leopard release: source
By Aidan Malley
Published: 03:25 PM EST
While the more cautious phone buyers have stayed away from the iPhone for numerous practical reasons, one source claims that Apple's handset is due to solve most of these problems with upgrades in coming months -- many of which will arrive with or before the company's Mac OS X upgrade.
A Palo Alto mobile user interface designer that regularly associates with Apple employees has reportedly been told that many of the features lacking from the iPhone are already scheduled as part of future updates, most of which should arrive on or before the October release of the revamped Mac OS.
Some of these updates may arrive within weeks. A true instant messaging client described as a mobile version of iChat, will arrive "very, very soon" and certainly before Leopard, the designer says. Customized ringtones were also set to appear within the same timeframe.
But fall 2007 is when the iPhone's features are set to expand in earnest, he adds. The iPhone will not only gain a disk mode for transferring computer files but should also receive a full-fledged file browser that lets users store and open documents. Its omission from the iPhone software made available in June was supposedly made primarily because the company wants a fully developed browser very similar to that found in Mac OS X Leopard, including the option of Cover Flow browsing.
Leopard itself will also allegedly include hooks for the iPhone, opening an enhanced file window in Finder for dragging files to and from the device. Like the iPod shuffle, users will be able to set aside a certain amount of the iPhone's flash storage for iTunes content and the rest for general data.
Microsoft's expected fall launch of Office 2008 for Mac will also provide justification for the critical addition of full Exchange sync support, according to one of the UI developer's Apple-employed friends. In what may be an expansion of Apple's chief executive Steve Jobs allusion to official announcements on the matter, the friend claims that iPhones will be able to synchronize with Exchange Server without the insecure IMAP setting required today.
Less specifically-timed upgrades are also slated for the future, if the report proves accurate. iWork should be available in mobile form and will at the very least allow the display of Keynote slideshows beyond today's basic Excel and Word viewing in the iPhone's e-mail client. A simple auto-discovering file sharing system, "Spotlight-like" search, and widescreen typing should all upgrade the phone's core features at varying points throughout the current phone's life cycle.
The Apple employees are also purportedly aware of intents to bring in support for third-party applications, including Adobe's Flash. In at least the case of the animation plugin, however, performance optimizations and security measures are needed before it can be used on the slower and potentially more vulnerable mobile device.