Technology that should be in Apple devices

Apple has always come up with new surprising technologies with every iteration of their products.  I’d love to see a few of these ideas implemented over the next five years or so.

MST Payments

MST stands for “magnetic secure transmission”, and the new Samsung Pay utilizes it.  It is an alternative to re-fitting POS systems with NFC readers for use with Apple Pay.  It emulates the magnetic swiping of a physical credit card:

Yes, this could even take the place of other magnetic reader systems, like in laundromats or even certain transit systems.  The possibilities could be endless.  Apple should integrate this technology into Apple Pay soon.

Wireless Charging

For a long time, one had to sync their Apple devices with iTunes in order to keep them up-to-date.  Now that wireless data syncing is finally the norm (letting iPhones become independent of Macs), why have them charge through USB anymore?  Especially now that Apple is pushing CarPlay head units with wireless syncing in iOS 9, you should be able to keep the phone charging in your pocket while the stereo system automatically recognizes it.

From a more practical standpoint, I sometimes forget to plug the cord in when I’m sitting at my desk.  Not having to remember to do this would be such a great thing!

Solar Charging

A few years ago, I came across a French company touting a solar charging screen that could be integrated into cell phones.  This hasn’t come to pass just yet, but could it be feasible in the future to avoid having wireless charging stations altogether? It’s another technology to consider in future Apple devices:

Getting rid of the 3.5mm jack

I know that this is not technically an addition, but hear me out.

Some rumors have been flying recently about Apple wanting to get rid of the 3.5mm headphone jack for their next iteration of iPhone.  When the story broke, I got a lot of heat on Reddit by suggesting that it is time that this port should be thrown out the door, but it really makes sense.  It is an old vestige of analog technology that shouldn’t be on modern devices.

Bluetooth headphones can last eight hours and sound just as fine as if you were listing through wired headphones.  Consumers have been paying more for headphones for some time now (see: Beats), so the idea that this technology would price most people out is false.  The cheapest Bluetooth headphones on Amazon are about $20 USD, and that price would only fall as demand for them picked up over time; the components would be manufactured in greater quantities.

I remember some of the initial criticisms on Reddit about the Apple Watch, that no one would want to charge their watch at the end of the day.  However, with its success, we’ve seen that this scenario hasn’t really played out.  Bluetooth headphones have stepped up over time, in terms of sound quality and battery life.  Until the time that Apple ditches lightning, they could transition consumers with a lightning adapter.

Simply put, getting rid of the 3.5mm jack would get rid of the cord.

IR Blaster

There will come a day when all televisions and their connected accessories support wireless home control in iOS devices.  For now, we are left with living room gadgets that only accept infrared signals to control them, besides some specialized apps.  Pronto makes a stand-alone IR blaster for iOS that works through Bluetooth.  You can control your television, sound bar, cable box and even air conditioner by connecting to the device and leaving it in a room.  Some Android devices have these built in, so why not the iPhone?

Dual Cameras

Last year, Apple bought Israeli imaging company LinX.  They have incredible camera technology which utilizes 2+ lenses.  It will allow iPhones to autofocus faster, have better zoom, and do depth perception.  That last one could change the way that 3D scanning is done, to be much more accurate.  It would be great to see it combined with apps such as 123D Catch by Autodesk:

Hopefully, this would also replace that protruding lens.

Scratch-proof / Waterproof

3rd party repair companies have made a killing out of the physical flaws of the iPhone.  The feeling of dropping your phone and picking it back up again to find out that it is shattered is utterly devastating; no one should go through it.  Apple is still trying to get its Sapphire displays on the phones, and hopefully those will be out soon, but others like Sony have had an incredible track record with making their phones waterproof.

It’s time that Apple stepped up their game here.  In fact, out of all the things that I mentioned so far, I would rather have a shatter-proof screen over anything else.

Beef up the MacBook’s Capabilities

Cellular Internet

If every iPhone used CDMA (SIM-less technology) and not just Verizon devices, Apple could be in the position to eliminate every port on the phone.  However, because carriers like AT&T utilize SIM cards, I would want to see Macs have both of these capabilities, just as their iOS cousins.  It wouldn’t even be the first time that a computer company put cellular internet into their PCs.  Dell, for example, has had SIM ports in some of their XPS laptops for at least five or six years now.

I know that iPhone users and tethering has been contentious as long as the iPhone has been out.  AT&T and others don’t want the stress on their networks for those who could be downloading large sums of data, and they have offered some paid solutions for this.  I know what some may argue — why have the unlimited plans, for example, if you can’t do whatever you want on them? I suspect that some of the carriers didn’t see how their network would be affected by millions of users coming on board with smart phones, and that’s why they have backpedaled a bit. Playing within the rules to prevent network congestion is so important in order to get to the next step of broader internet access on more devices.

Cellular internet on MacBooks should be operated in a restrictive environment where data usage can be monitored by the operating system.  When cellular internet is activated, Safari should be made to serve up iPad-optimized web pages.  Certain apps would not be allowed to open unless the user specifically enabled them in System Preferences (Transmission, Spotify, Dropbox, etc.).  App makers could code up “light” modes as well.

I once had a mobile broadband card that I used at a rest stop in rural Vermont.  I set up a “mobile” user account on my laptop which had hardly anything running on it.  I had to bookmark the coverage map to see where I would be able to even get online, but I didn’t have access to it at certain times.  Allowing Apple Maps in OS X to have your provider’s data map would be a game changer.  But it wouldn’t happen unless MacBooks had…

GPS

Locations services has been in OS X since Mavericks 10.9 (maybe even before this?).  Websites will request your location and get it based on a wifi triangulation database that Apple uses.  Why not just use GPS outright?  Here’s a few more applications for it:

  • For those taking tethered photographs with their DSLRs, this could embed location metadata.
  • For those wanting to navigate using a laptop instead of their phones.  Like, on a boat with Charts & Tides or through the Maps app in a car.
  • FindMyFriends integration, when the computer is logged in and being used.
  • Wilderness trekking.

I see the downsides to having GPS, beyond some of these niche examples that I quickly came up with.  If you are carrying around a big bulky laptop and trying to do real-time location things with it, it is going to drain itself.  There are not MagSafe DC adapters yet for cars, even.  So, why not put in…

Wireless Charging

MagSafe was a revolutionary application of a technology that came from deep fryer cords.  The next step is having no cords at all for laptops.

Other items

Shatter-proof screens, water proof body, and solar charing? Even an IR blaster? Whatever would be feasible, I would welcome.

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