Next iPhones & iPads

What iOS 8 tells us about the next iPhones & iPads

Apple's latest WWDC only left us with software. But it might give some clues about the hardware.

Apple's WWDC event has come & gone, but all we got was software. Lots of software, but what about new products? We're still waiting on further news about the next iPhones & iPads.

Well, iOS 8 may provide some clues. Looking into the tea leaves of what each year's iOS features include can give hints. The debut of iOS 7 did not hint at everything the iPhone 5S would later include, but at this point, here are the best educated guesses at what we might be seeing later in this year.

Bigger screen for the iPhone & maybe for the iPad

Apple's latest XCode software includes the ability to adjust screen sizes to other iOS device resolutions. If that does not sound like a prelude to larger-screened iPhones & iPads, I do not know what does. That is not a guarantee, of course, but the rumors of a larger-screened iPhone are almost too deafening to refute.

Touch ID for all

Third party applications will finally be able to tap into Touch ID,  Apple's zippy fingerprint-sensing home-button technology that is currently only the iPhone 5s. Many expected Touch ID iPads last year. This year, expect all new iPhones & iPads to have them.

Improved camera tech, again

iPhones are valued as much for their cameras as anything else. iOS 8 opens a lot more control over specific camera elements like shutter speed & focus. The highest-end iPhone might see additional lens and focus improvements, but the iPad may likely see a significant upgrade, too.

They will work seamlessly with more things than ever before

HomeKit & HealthKit aim to knit together smart home & health/fitness hardware to work better with iOS. iBeacon technology could do the same in public places. That's all capable with existing hardware and new iOS 8 software. new hardware - like an improved variant of the M7 motion co-processor in the iPhone 5s & iPads, might introduce other ways of beefing up the iPhone's own sensors.

They will have impressive gaming

If Metal, iOS 8's development tool, is any indication, console-level graphics engines might be running on iPhones & iPads this fall. Metal optimizes the A7 processor on the iPhone 5s, iPad Air & Retina iPad Mini: what about Apple's next processor, which should take another graphical leap? Also expect better connections: with MFi game controllers & even with the Apple TV. If a new Apple TV successor debuts as well, it could end up forming a gaming tandem with iPhones & iPads.

They will be more similar to each other than ever

iPads will be able to screen your phone calls, and even answer them. Emails can be started on one device & finished on another. If there is a larger-screened iPhone, expect the gap between iPhone & iPad to narrow. Will it mean the iPad Mini takes a back seat in 2014? Maybe not, but the phablet phenomenon could finally hit Apple at last in the form of apps & experiences that start to feel nearly as good on iPhone as on iPad & from what we have seen of iOS 8 on iPad & iPhone so far, there really are not many differences. If the iPhone adopts a flatter, more iPad-like design, then maybe we really will think of this year's iOS devices as iPeas in a pod.