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Infinite Loop: Iteratively Designing the iPhone and the iPad

by on October 4th, 2011

In a few short hours, Tim Cook will take the stage and finally put all (or a lot) of the iPhone 5 rumours to rest. With an initial expected launch of June, it’s definitely been a long road coming, and us Apple enthusiasts have been quite patient.

Unlike previous iPhone announcements and releases, though, the rumour mill has been quite slow. There have only been scant details of the product available, some case leaks and a handful of screenshots of the new voice activation features. What’s interesting to note here, though, is that the iPhone 5 looks quite a lot like a smaller version of the iPad 2, and it’s gotten me thinking about something that should’ve been obvious to me months ago – Apple will use the iPad as a design bed for the next iPhone, and vice versa, and it is simply brilliant.

Iterative Designs For Incremental Improvement

I think it’s safe to say that we will not be seeing massive improvements in the iPhone 5 hardware specs nor in its design. In fact, I honestly can’t see anything Apple can show that will be truly groundbreaking in either the iPhone or the iPad in the near future. When hardware design hits this stage of maturity, it makes plenty of sense to start improving on existing frameworks rather than trying to leapfrog itself and design from scratch, and the rumoured designs for the new iPhone completely jives with this.

Apple is no stranger to iterative design – its entire desktop and laptop lineups follow the same scheme. Whereas major leaps in technology and design are few and far between in the desktop and laptop space, this isn’t the same for mobile hardware. By designing from the previous device, Apple has not only found the time to fine tune and perfect existing features, but has also forced them to concentrate on a smaller set of new features to make them seamless.

Apple has effectively opened up a second hardware release window in the year rather than one, effectively overcoming one of Android’s greatest threats of multiple hardware releases without cannibalizing their own product line.

The good news, however, doesn’t stop here.

It’s All About Timing

While many of us bemoaned the lack of a summer iPhone launch, what Apple has done was bought themselves a perfect 6 month gap between iPhone and iPad launches; and this is pretty important aside from the design window I already mentioned. From a manufacturing standpoint, Apple has given their parts suppliers and assembly lines a much needed breathing room to fulfill the high demand for both of those devices. Hopefully, this will alleviate the device shortages out of the gates (though I’m not holding my breath on that one.) From a consumer standpoint, it also give time for our wallets to recover from device upgrades and I, for one, would be grateful for that too.

While all of these arguments are speculative based on a few leaked images of the new phone, I really hope that Apple’s taken the time to think about this. I think an April-October device launch schedule is really a win-win for everyone involved. After all, it would be nice for these device launch cycles to be a bit more stable moving forward.

What do you guys think? October iPhone launch – planned or coincidental? Let us know down below.

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Posted under: iPad Rumours

  • Dennis

    Sounds good to me. I have yet to get an iPad. Have been holding out for the retina display. Only 6 months to go :)