Apple has announced iOS 6, Google has given us all the details about Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and Microsoft has provided a taster of what’s to come in Windows Phone 8. They’re all exciting, and they’re the operating systems that will almost certainly power any phone you buy in 2013.
But the question is, what phone will that be? The operating system has become so important, that hardware has taken a back seat, as although we know a considerable amount about the next generation OS’s from the major smartphone players, we know next to nothing about the phones on which they’ll run.
So why has the software become the main focus? It’s simple, by making a compelling, attractive platform, Apple, Google and Microsoft are hoping you become “locked in” for many years to come. This way you keep buying apps, games, music, movies, books and plenty more besides, all from their individual content stores.
If you’re a smartphone fan though, it’s hard not to be more excited about the phones, so here’s a run down of what we know so far.
Apple iOS 6.
In June, Apple was the first to reveal its next OS. In it, we’ll be saying goodbye to Google Maps, and hello to Apple’s own mapping software, plus Siri will make it to the iPad, Facebook will be added into the OS and Safari will sync with iCloud.
The software has yet to be given a release date, but if it repeats the same pattern as previous versions, expect it a couple of weeks before the public release of the new iPhone, so perhaps sometime in October.
Although iOS 6 will work on the iPhone 4S and the new iPad, it’ll be the iPhone 5 — or whatever it ends up being called — where it’ll get the most attention. We’ve seen some possible mock-ups of the next generation iPhone already, but there’s no guarantee they represent the final version, but there’s a good chance it’ll have a larger screen however it ends up looking.
This will mean that for the first time, the iPhone will have one more line of apps appear on its home screen. There’s also a chance NFC will be built-in, to take advantage of potential Passbook functions.
A quad-core processor, a new design and a smaller dock connector are all possible too. Apple has a regimented way of revealing a new iPhone, so look out for invitations to the event appearing in the press as the first indication of when it’ll be unveiled. At the same event, Apple could also launch an iPad with a smaller screen, or an iPod Touch with a larger screen.
Microsoft Windows Phone 8.
Windows Phone 8 was the second mobile OS officially discussed during June, and it was our first look at the next-generation of Microsoft’s smartphone software. Like iOS, a release date hasn’t been provided, but many expect it to be tied in with Windows 8 on the desktop, so look out for it in October.
Microsoft confirmed a series of hardware partners at its Windows Phone Summit. New phones should be coming from Samsung, HTC, Nokia and Huawei, and they’ll all be powered by Qualcomm processors. We also know that Windows Phone 8 will support multi-core chips and a higher screen resolution, so expect some exciting phones later this year.
We’ve yet to see images of any Windows Phone 8 hardware, but a few codenames have been leaked, with Nokia said to be working on between five and eight devices, and HTC on three.
HTC’s phones are codenamed Rio, Zenith and Accord, and the latter two could be based on the HTC One X and One S respectively. Nokia’s line-up includes names such as the Lumia 1001, Fluid and Phi, plus the truly bizarre Dogphone. One could feature the same PureView camera technology as found on the 808 PureView too.
Samsung has been keeping quiet, with only the model number SGH-i687 being linked with Microsoft’s OS, while Huawei has confirmed it will be adding Windows Phone 8 to an Ascend series handset.
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
Unlike the other two OS’s we’ve talked about, we actually know all about the first new piece of hardware to feature 4.1 Jelly Bean, because Google was kind enough to reveal it during the same presentation.
We’re talking about the Nexus 7 tablet, which you can read all about here, and is already up for pre-order through Google Play and with several UK retailers.
The Nexus 7 tablet will be joined by the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus S smartphones, both of which have Jelly Bean coming to them as an upgrade; but as yet, we’ve heard nothing about any new phones set to use the software.
This isn’t all that surprising, as the code has only just this week been made available.
All three new versions of Apple’s, Google’s and Microsoft’s next generation operating systems are headed our way before the end of the year, possibly all during October. Excited?