What to expect when you’re expecting the new Apple iPhone
September 12, 2017
Apple will officially unveiled the iPhone 8, iPhone 8S and iPhone X, the 15th iteration of the little personal computing device that changed the world. USC experts discuss whether it is indeed just another minor iteration in Apple’s incremental but successful corporate philosophy under CEO Tim Cook, or a release that finds a way to transform our collective relationship with technology like it did 10 years ago.
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“You would have to dive deep into business books to find a CEO at any company at any time in history who has faced a bigger challenge than Tim Cook at Apple faces right now.
“Last fall, when Apple fanatics were disappointed that the iPhone 7 only had a better camera and processor, they quickly pivoted and pointed out that September of 2017 is the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. They argued, ‘Apple is saving the really great stuff for the iPhone 8 on the 10th anniversary.’ Maybe they are right.
“If all the fans see is an incremental improvement, then Apple becomes just another successful technology company, but one that is no longer the most interesting and loved company in the world. Apple will probably have to look for game-changers in other areas such as cars or television.
“If the new phone does shock and awe the fanatics, then that will strengthen Tim Cook’s connection to the Jobs Era.
“The stakes have never been higher.”
Jeffrey Cole can discuss Apple’s place as a technology innovator and the way devices like the iPhone have changed how we use the internet (and sometimes not for the better), as in this analysis from Aug. 17. He is the director of the Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
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“Face recognition accuracy is very high today, especially in cooperative situations — such as using it to log in to your phone.
“Biometric verification technologies are still vulnerable to spoofing attacks, like a photograph or video of the user.
“Trade-offs between a successful attack and allowing a legitimate user to more quickly unlock their phone pose a challenge. But multi-sensor face recognition, especially one that incorporates 3-D face reconstruction, could greatly improve the shape of that trade-off curve.
“An important question that will emerge sooner or later is whether the face recognition performs equally well across all demographic segments. In other words, is it a ‘fair’ technology or will it deliver different levels of performance for different demographic segments?”
Premkumar Natarajan can discuss the iPhone’s expected new facial recognition unlock feature and Apple’s other work in advanced-image recognition and computer vision. He is the Michael Keston Executive Director of the USC Information Sciences Institute and a vice dean and professor of computer science at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.
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“I am pleased that Apple appears to be poised to announce that the next generation of iPhone will have an OLED (organic light-emitting diode) display. They have become the most brilliant, colorful, lightweight and efficient mobile displays available.
“Switching to an OLED display will keep the iPhone in the absolute top category of smartphones.”
Mark Thompson can discuss both the commercial applications and chemical structure of OLED displays, their increased efficiencies, and differences with LCD and other display materials. His lab patented the OLED colors currently used by Samsung’s line of Galaxy phones. He is a professor of chemistry and inorganic chemistry at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
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“A new bezel-free, or frame-free, feature only makes a difference for iPhone developers who can figure out how to uniquely exploit a bezel-less screen in a way that is noticeable to the user.
“This may benefit developers who currently already develop for both Android and iPhone, since they may have already figured out that challenge for bezel-less Android phones and just need to port it to the new bezel-less iPhone.”
Pai-Ling Yin can discuss Apple’s mobile strategy moving forward and how the iPhone update will impact developers. She is an associate professor of clinical entrepreneurship and director of the Technology Commercialization Initiative at the USC Marshall School of Business. She is also co-founder of the Mobile Innovation Group, which researches the mobile app ecosystem, from industry evolution to platform competition and entrepreneurial strategy.
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“While there has been a lot of focus on iPhone hardware and iOS 11, ARKit is the big story.
“The main AR capabilities that the new iPhone presents actually have been around for years — Qualcomm’s Vuforia has been used in a variety of ways, with Google’s Tango as a more complex and powerful AR solution that requires dedicated hardware.
“What Apple has done, as they have before with portable music, the cellphone and other new markets, is take the initial capabilities to new levels and allow them to work on a massive number of devices.
“AR is touted as the next big thing. And it will be — but like VR, it is not quite ready for prime time.
“The only way to get truly useful and/or compelling AR capabilities is to move forward on two fronts. First, get the tools for creation into the hands of many (which ARKit and now Google’s ARCore have done). And second, have the resulting apps run on as many devices as possible. That is where Apple has the current advantage, but Google is not sitting still, as evidenced by the release of ARCore.
“Apple usually nails their design around the third iteration. So expect the first round of AR capabilities to be interesting, but not life-changing. If we fast forward to 2019, I’d expect there to be a significant leap in the quality of the AR experience for the user, and further integration of AR into our digital lives (e.g. social media).
“Will we eventually get to a place where your phone will truly be an immersive portal? With time, and maturation of related display technologies, yes.”
Todd Richmond can discuss augmented reality and virtual reality consumer technologies, as well as where Apple fits into these markets. He is the director of the Mixed Reality Lab at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies and an assistant research professor of media arts and practice at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.
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