Sunday, September 4, 2011

Speculated iPhone specifications... seem somewhat boring

As we approach the predicted launch date of the iPhone 5, we unsurprisingly start to see more of the media speculation machine whirr into action. Key specifications that are pretty much on the cards are the dual-core A5 processor and an 8 megapixel camera. And the new version of iOS isn't a terribly big secret given that any iOS developer can download the beta version.

Now, perhaps I'm missing something, but it strikes me that if this is the big spec improvement to make a big fuss about, it seems pretty unexciting.

The dual-core processor will hopefully make, for example, video editing a little less klunky. And it may be put to good use in a few specialist applications such as to allow extra tracks or more complex virtual instruments in some of the excellent music making software that has appeared for iOS over the last couple of years. But for your bog-standard iPhone game, I suspect the extra capacity will go largely unused: the standard game programming paradigm simply doesn't used multithreading, or only to a very minimal extent (e.g. sound playback is handled by background threads). While I'm not sure whether to agree with Don Knuth's take that multi-core processors are essentially a passing gimmick while we work out how to get faster single cores, it's true that what game programmers generally want is a single core that runs as fast as possible.

As for an 8 megapixel camera instead of a 5 megapixel one. Well, I can't help shrugging my shoulders a little. So maybe we'll get a 2x digital zoom that's just about worthwhile if the extra megapixels actually add resolution rather than just being extra noise. But unless Apple is about to announce that they've just designed a revolutionary new lens, a few extra megapixels don't sound terribly exciting on the face of it.

Of course, I also eagerly wait to be corrected... :)

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