For a few hours, this will overshadow election news

While Donald and Hill duke it out state by state and the world wonders if the Chicago Cubs will go all the way, a truly momentous event is about to shake the universe. Tomorrow, in fact.

The new iPhone will come out and it won’t have a headphone jack! At least what’s what the dozens of publications and web sites that follow this sort of thing are predicting. The iPhone 7 will have better cameras, a faster chip and way more memory capacity. But it won’t look much different from the one you may already be carrying. This Forbes piece quotes an analyst who is purported to be the best Apple shaman, who lists 15 improvements in the new version.

By getting rid of the headphone jack (and cording people to use lo-fi bluetooth ears), the experts say, Apply will be able to make the phone even thinner and more waterproof. But for a radically redesigned iPhone, fans will have to wait yet another year. Shucks.

Because smart phones don’t wear out, and the vendors of their apps are constantly updating the software, objectively speaking not one soul will be any the worse for not shelling out for a new iPhone. Yet the fate of the iPhone sales has a public effect because the device is what propelled Apple to among the most highly valued companies. At the moment, Apple doesn’t appear to have a world-beating product to sustain its $500 billion or $600 billion in market capitalization.

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Apple’s competitors aren’t faring much better. Although millions prefer Galaxies, 80 percent of smart phone profits are reported to be Apple’s.

Smart phones still have room for improvement. New display technologies promise better color and lower power consumption. Voice recognition and input still mostly stinks. Batteries, cameras, touch features, software integration — those always offer opportunities for tweaks and upgrades. But the fundamental model of what people understand to be a smart phone has been set and static for nearly a decade.

Who knows, maybe the next step-function change will consist of phones that roll up into cylinders. Regardless, the smart phone isn’t the first product to mature then become a commodity for decades. The iPhone has become such a technology mainstay, both for individuals and organizations, it’s fostered an ecosystem of developers that will keep it relevant for a long time.

Apple speculation has shifted to whether the company is working on an automobile, and whether it will be driverless. This Macworld article from last month is one of many summing up all that is publicly known or suspected about “project Titan.”

If Apple does come out with a car by 2020 or 2021, it would be more than a century after the Ohio outfit called Apple Automobile Company came out with its roadster. The company, founded in 1915, only lasted two years. W.A. Apple’s son later made parts for the Air Force.

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