Talking tech since 2003

Irish novelist James Joyce once said that “a man’s errors are his portals of discovery.”  While you can take what you will from that statement, many perceive it as meaning that mistakes and blunders are what give us the knowledge to better pursue the future.  And while the company is highly successful one would be ignorant not to realize that Apple has made a fair amount of mistakes over the last couple of years.  Perhaps one of the largest and most widely known of these mistakes was an incident that took place about this time last year when Apple made the misjudgment of allowing a number of select employees to actively use prototype versions of the yet to be released forth-generation iPhone.  One of these employees, the now infamous Gray Powell, overlooked the then highly secretive device and ultimately ended up misplacing it in a Bay Area bar.

After making its way through the news the story was quickly forgotten by many, and based upon Apple’s tremendous sales of the device later that year we can only infer that their overall business didn’t considerably suffer from the occurrence.  But now as we edge closer to iPhone season last years events have gained a whole new level of importance, raising questions as to what Apple would do this time around.  After all, the company is in a very touch situation.  You see, Apple still needs to have their hardware tested and evaluated by developers and engineers.  But taking into consideration the near blow that the company was dealt last year, it’s probably safe to say that we all expected to see stronger restrictions imposed by Apple for this year’s iPhone prototype.

Unsurprisingly, we’re now seeing exactly that.  9 to 5 Mac is now reporting that “select developers” have gotten their hands on a non-released version of the Apple iPhone.  However, having learned from their mistakes last year, the device that Apple is making available to a handful of trusted developers isn’t exactly a “prototype” version but rather a beefed-up iPhone 4.

The secretive device – dubbed the iPhone 4S – is at core a forth-generation iPhone.  Setting it apart, though, is the supercharged A5 processor; the same one that was recently introduced in the iPad 2.  9 to 5 Mac is also quick to back up their undisclosed source by reminding us that newer versions of Apple’s XCode IDE (the development kit that developers use to create iOS-based applications) suggests that near-future versions of the iPhone will be sporting A5 processors for superior processing power.

Of course we’re also hearing rumors about an upgraded iOS operating system for the device, the only improvements that we have heard of thus far are simply implemented so that the iPhone is capable of running on the improved hardware.

With this being the only known difference, the developers that have gotten their paws on the device all work with resource-demanding applications that will legitimately take advantage of the increased power the mystery device now sports.  Now, it doesn’t exactly take a rocket scientist to figure out that the only mobile applications that really require this type of power are in fact mobile games; something that potentially gives us a glimpse into the future of the iPhone and Apple’s overall mobile focus.

So where does that leave us?  Well, as of right now the only development that we’ve heard of has been the A5 processor; an innovation that was more or less guaranteed to be implemented after its arrival in the second generation iPad.  We have yet to see or hear of any groundbreaking additions to the next generation iPhone, and in all honesty the small tidbit of news that we have seen has definitely undercut my expectations so far; and this is exactly how Apple wants things to be.

Apple has shown their care in protecting the prototype, and ultimately their trade secrets and intellectual property regarding the future of the iPhone’s future.  In order to keep a tab on things, Apple has not only been much more cautious with who they grant access to the exclusive device.  Although I guess this particular strategy hasn’t done them any good, as we’re already seeing leaked information.  Moreover, in order to ensure that the prototype (if you’d even call it that) doesn’t get into the wrong hands à la last year Apple is requiring the handsets to be secured in locked safes in Apple’s offices during the evenings, 9 to 5 Mac goes on to report.  Wether these safes are secured with a lock and key system or an alcohol breathalyzer has yet to be determined.

Overall Apple seems to be doing everything in their power to ensure that the non-released Apple iPhone doesn’t see happy hour, or any real features for that matter.  At the same time, I really can’t blame them for protecting their self interests.  On top of this, I really must applaud Apple for still giving developers the resources they need to test and innovate, as the iPhone would have never gotten this far without this type of collaborative efforts.

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