What was the most significant announcement during Steve Jobs’ keynote at WWDC? While the iPhone 4 is a sexy beast with lots of great new features, it will be out of date in a year’s time. No, the most important announcement was one tiny detail – a name change.
iPhone OS will now be known as iOS. It’s a subtle change but one that has huge implications.
By detaching the name of the OS from the hardware it powers, Apple is opening the doors for it to be used on many different devices in the future. It’s already on the iPod Touch and iPad of course, but this name change means iOS could step way beyond mobile handsets and tablets.
For a start, it adds more credence to the rumour that Apple is planning to bring out a cheap, streaming-only version of its Apple TV set-top box powered by the OS. As a simple, easy to use but powerful operating system, iOS would be perfect for navigating all those Netflix-type services and social TV apps that are on the horizon.
Why stop there? Apple could bring its iOS to a wider range of devices. Watches running cut-down versions, Microsoft Surface-style mega-tablets, hey, why not a full-blown desktop PC? It might sound crazy, but who would have predicted two years ago that the iPhone would never support Flash?
Think like Steve Jobs for a second and it makes perfect sense. With iOS, Apple has a lightweight, locked-down OS that they have full control over. Thanks to the App store, iTunes, iAd and iBooks, iOS is a money-making machine for Apple and it makes sense to have it in as many places as possible. It may one day be mature and powerful enough to replace OSX and change the way we use Apple computers forever.
I’m just holding out for the iOS-powered iToaster. Well, you never know…