Crystal Ball: What’s Coming in the Next iPhone?

iphone_concep

Yes, the iPhone 3GS is still hot out of the oven (too hot, perhaps?), but if you’re a true gadget addict, then you probably can’t help but think ahead to what Apple could possibly cram into the next iteration to ensure consumer mouths continue to drool. Of course, if you’re like me and you were ensnared by only the promise of better internals and a video camera this time around, it shouldn’t take much to accomplish that.

According to Unwired View, future versions of Apple’s smartphone could boast a lot more in the bells and whistles department. They’ve assembled a variety of Apple patents that, together, represent an exciting vision of what an iPhone 4G (3GSX?) could look like.

See and Speak

There’s already some interesting work being done by third-party developers around image identification on the iPhone, but Apple looks to be aiming to bake real-world object ID right into the platform. The phone would be using a combination of technologies to identify things that you point it at, including the camera, RFID or barcode scanning, and context filters (i.e., museum, grocery store, small island fishing community, etc.). You can almost smell the ecommerce potential in something like this.

iPhone-object-recognition

Never Forget a Face

iPhoto ’09 brought us Faces, a feature which recognizes faces you tag once in photos and automatically groups them together. It’s black techno-magic, is what it is, and I won’t have any part in it. But if you’re less superstitious and old-fashioned, it can be pretty handy. Now it looks like it might be coming to the iPhone.

iPhone-facial-recognition

Face recognition can have any number of applications, including the ability to custom tailor access privileges depending on who’s handling the device. No music with explicit lyrics for Junior, for instance, but Daddy doesn’t have to remove Ol’ Dirty Bastard from his iPhone entirely.

Built-In CRM

If you’re an iPhone business user, this next feature might seem especially promising, particularly if you’re in sales. Customer relationship management (CRM) is a huge part of successful sales, and it generally involves making sure you stay up to date on the personal and professional lives of your clients.

iPhone-unread-message-alert

This patent foretells a feature that notifies you if you have unread communications from a contact before you call them. That way, you’ll avoid awkward situations like calling someone to check on the progress of a contract when he’s just sent you a detailed email explaining everything that’s wrong with it.

iPhone-multiple-recipient-messaging

Another business-related feature will inform you if a message you’ve sent out to multiple recipients has failed for specific individuals within that group, and then give you a chance to resend only to those members who didn’t get the memo. Both of these last two features obviously have applications beyond the enterprise, too, but they seem most relevant to the business world.

I Do Impressions

Want your phone to talk to you and sound like Sir Paul McCartney while doing so? Or, if you’re particularly self-obsessed, in your very own voice? The last patent of the batch outfits your iPhone with the ability to do just that.

iPhone-voice-output-alteration

Weirdly, the scenario Apple uses to describe the usefulness of this speculated app is kind of an iPhone-as-surrogate-mother situation. It imagines a bleak future in which you have to have your iPhone read to your child in your voice because you’re too busy. Even if this patent does become reality, I hope we never reach the point where that becomes something many of us require our phone to do.

I don’t know about you, but I’d say most of the fun of new iPhone hardware is the anticipation and speculation leading up to the actual release. Not that I’m against getting my hands on the physical hardware once it does come out, of course.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user onebutan-iphone.

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