iPhone OS 4.0 Predictions

This week’s entry is for the Apple fanatics, and iPhone owners (or potential iPhone owners) in particular.

There was a post over at TUAW last week encouraging readers to weigh in on what may or may not be present in the forthcoming iPhone OS 4.0. I missed their deadline for submitting comments, but read on to hear my thoughts anyway — I’m going to talk about a couple of things I’d like to see happen to the built-in Maps app.

Voice Navigation

There is a big market for GPS-like turn-by-turn directions on the iPhone, and plenty of companies both big and small have thrown their hats in with varying features and price points (an excellent comparison of such apps is available at Pocket GPS World). While this is enough to show that users really want voice-navigated directions on their phone, the big reason I think this will happen is that Droid users already have this behaviour built straight into Google Maps. This is a big feature, and the difference between having it available by default on the Droid and as a paid app on the iPhone is significant, and something I think Apple will want to address.

Augmented Reality

There are a lot of apps designed to help users find nearby points of interest. Some of the more recent ones have started a trend called augmented reality, which is when a live feed of the camera on the phone is used as the background and information is overlayed on top of it based on what direction the user is facing. With the iPhone’s accelerometer and compass, this technique has proven to be remarkably accurate and holds a lot of “wow” factor; something Apple has consistently been a fan of.

Since most of these apps are simply wrappers for the Maps app, why not cut out the middleman and blend an augmented reality feature into Maps by default? This would be Apple’s first entry into the growing augmented reality market, and would really up the ante for developers who currently offer augmented reality mapping features. Apple is all about shaking things up, so while this is probably pretty unlikely it wouldn’t be entirely out of character.

Your turn!

I’ve given my thoughts about the Maps app, which I think will net a big update come the next iPhone OS release. What do you think will be added/changed/removed in iPhone OS 4.0?

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