Ever since Apple set the ball rolling with its first iPhone, the smartphone industry has been overflowing with clever lifestyle ideas and new milestones. Apple itself is often at the forefront of innovation: the iPhone can now contact emergency services via satellite, unlock a car or find an escaped pet. iOS and the iPhone make it all possible.
If the iPhone can do all this already, how much more will it be capable of five years from now? The key, when extrapolating the developments of the past into the future, is to bear something important in mind: the progress that lies ahead is always much faster than the progress we have already made. This is especially true for the world of tech, because Moore’s Law applies. It says (in a nutshell) that the complexity of integrated circuits doubles every 1-2 years; in other words, computing power increases exponentially. We can expect much more significant leaps in development in the next five years than we have seen in the past five.
Because new hardware opens up completely new possibilities, we can take some guesses at what could be on the horizon. Here are seven cool, crazy, and far-out features that could land on your iPhone sooner than you think.
Infinite battery life
In some ways this already exists: inductive charging works wirelessly and is pretty convenient too. We simply place our iPhones on a MagSafe charging station and save ourselves the annoying tangle of cables.
What the technology still lacks for the next revolution, however, is range. If such induction fields could be extended, or if our iPhone could tap into radio waves for charging, we would never again have to worry about empty batteries. This isn’t science fiction, either. Xiaomi demonstrated a revolutionary through-the-air charging system as long ago as January 2021.
Theoretically, such an advance would mean you could do away with the battery altogether since energy would be available everywhere. This in turn would drastically reduce the weight of mobile devices, save costs and help the environment.
After 5G, the next mobile communications milestone is already awaiting us in the form of 6G. Although there is no exact date for the launch of the new standard, 6G should arrive in five to six years.
Transfer rates of up to 400Gbps are planned; with that, you could download an entire Blu-ray movie to your iPhone in one second. One can only hope that the device’s storage will make similarly great progress. Perhaps local data chips will also become more or less superfluous since immense data volumes could be downloaded from iCloud in a fraction of a second.
Actual artificial intelligence
Right now, Siri is bad, and it probably seems wildly ambitious to hope it could ever attain the smarts of an AI system like ChatGPT. Nevertheless, the topic of AI and its integration into human life are still important issues for iOS. Experts agree that the complete networking of all everyday technologies, from cars to nutrition apps to smart homes, is now only a matter of time.
Apple and its walled garden could particularly benefit from highly intelligent AI. After all, in the Apple ecosystem, more and more applications have to work together smoothly and manage increasingly complex tasks for ever more demanding users.
The future iPhone might drive your car to your front door, read your kids a bedtime story (if they’ve been good), and automatically ask the boss to forgive you if you’re late for work—all without asking Siri.
Another prediction that might sound daring, at least for the next five years. But the idea is anything but far-fetched, because thought control of tech devices already works today, even if no one has yet implemented it in a mobile operating system.
Don’t believe us? You’d better sit down. Neuralink, a company owned by Elon Musk, implanted a brain chip into a monkey for exactly this purpose. The implanted circuit can send brain signals from the primate directly to a smartphone.
You can see the result in the video above. If you’re wondering why the monkey is sucking so passionately on that metal tube, it’s because he receives a banana smoothie as a reward for playing his part. At the end of the video, haptic control devices are completely disconnected and the monkey controls the game with his thoughts alone.
It’s all very far-fetched, but satellite SOS, wireless charging, and Siri were once pretty far-fetched too.
You don’t need a crystal ball to see this trend coming. In the future, so-called super apps will play an increasingly important role in our everyday lives, and the iOS of the future will be no exception.
Super apps combine a wide range of services, functions, and services into one interface. This makes sense, because as practical and versatile as apps are today, doesn’t it annoy you that so many of them are needed? Every social media site has its own app and pesters visitors into downloading it. If you use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, you’ve probably got an app salad on your iPhone.
Super apps also promise convenient and above all time-saving solutions in many other areas. Planning a holiday? In the future, a single app will let you book a flight or a hotel, make calendar entries and invite your sweetheart, find good local restaurants, organize a rental car, and call room service.
Right now, we’re eagerly awaiting Apple’s first AR headset, which will arrive accompanied by its own operating system, probably called xrOS. If this product is a success, AR will play an increasingly important role at Apple and could expand into other areas.
Naturally, the iPhone will be a big part of Apple’s VR and AR effort, first as a companion to the headset then as a full-fledged AR device of its own. And if all goes according to plan, the AR headset will eventually replace the iPhone completely with the next 10 years.
Just a screen
All of the iPhone’s limitations can be traced back to one thing: the hardware. But who says heavy and power-hungry components have to be built into the smartphone? If storage and the user account are already hosted in the cloud, why not run the software there as well? If some of the technology here comes to fruition—6G, true wireless charging—you wouldn’t need to carry around much more than a paper-thin screen.
This article originally appeared on Macwelt and was translated and edited by David Price and Michael Simon.