Thanks to Engadget's real-time blog, I've been following along with today's Apple announcements without taking the trouble of walking the four blocks to the Moscone Center. I didn't think there would be any enterprise spin to the announcements, and on the surface that thought has proven correct. But the announcement of the new iPod Touch got me thinking about Apple's burgeoning interest in mobile communications.
The new iPod Touch models (an 8GB model for $299, or 16GB for $399) look almost identical to the iPhone, just slightly skinnier. The device appears to have the same layout, and the screen has the same features and some of the same icons.
At this point, I am presupposing that the Touch runs OSX -- just like the iPhone. To reduce costs, Apple will undoubtedly be using many of the same parts in the Touch as in the iPhone -- the touch-screen, processors, storage components, etc. I'm presuming the same applies to the operating system, as Apple would benefit from having a single OS and development platform to work on for both the iPhone and the Touch.
Like the iPhone, the Touch also has 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, which could prove an excellent way to get around the unfortunate AT&T exclusivity contract with which the iPhone is saddled. The Touch also has Apple's Safari browser and the same virtual keyboard, so users can expand their connectivity to networks protected by a captive portal or log-in page.
So if the Touch indeed is running OSX, it stands to reason that the various Jailbreak applications can be easily adapted to hack into new Touch, leading to a host of unauthorized applications on the device. One application I am particularly interested in would be a SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) client application that utilizes the Wi-Fi connectivity. It would be the next logical step in Apple's evolution toward mobile communications.
However, I'm not so sure Apple will want to cross AT&T for this particular feature, however, at least not until there is a viable business model that could be attached to the capability. So while I would much prefer to see Apple actually include a widget for a SIP VOIP (voice over IP) platform, it seems more likely that the community at large will lead the way with a SIP client application, possibly something that would work with the Gizmo network.
All this hinges on one detail I have yet to be clear on. Will the iPod Touch have a microphone? If Apple is indeed using many of the same parts on the Touch as on the iPhone, then it is possible that a microphone is in there and that it can possibly be unlocked in software.
If its not in there, however, this whole argument is moot for the Touch -- although I would still love to see it for the iPhone. In truth, it may be the only application that would make me want to hack into mine.