The Killer Feature Of iPhone OS 3.0 Revealed

On June 3, 2009

Lost in the shuffle of excitement as WWDC approaches is the most exciting feature of the coming iPhone update.

Sure, it is thrilling to see cut and paste, push notification and stereo Bluetooth coming (and the list goes on and on). All of them are features we have long awaited and all will help push the iPhone into the next phase even with a hardware update that increasingly looks to be incremental rather than earth-shaking.

None however are THE feature that really matters. In fact, no one seems to be writing about the truly groundbreaking feature of iPhone 3.0 even though it is the feature that has the potential  to change everything. It is not an understatement to say that this overlooked feature is the one that will help push the iPhone so far past it’s next nearest competitor that catching up will be exponentially more difficult than ever before.

What is that feature? It is no secret… no prediction… no educated guess. No it is something Apple came right out and told us would be coming. That feature????

The ability for developers to create applications that connect the iPhone to hardware accessories through the dock connector or over Bluetooth.

It is huge! HUGE!!!!!!

It’s huge for the accessory manufacturers who potentially will make a fortune. It’s huge for Apple who no doubt gets a cut of it all. But it is especially huge for the iPhone and its usefulness as THE device to carry.

Let me give you a few brief examples why.

Apple Stores-

Go to any Apple Store and try to check out and you will likely be greeted by an employee toting a Windows Mobile device to record your purchase and payment information.

The devices are no bargain. In fact, AppleInsider reported that their use initially SLOWED the sales of iPhone 3G. The devices are reportedly large, slow and expensive. Shocking!

Just how long do you think it will be before Apple is using the iPhone with a special credit card scanning device attached to the dock connector? And once this configuration proves itself countless stores will likely follow. It has a huge potential for stock checking, feature researching and payment completion for just about any store. Add in its usefulness as an in-house walkie-talkie system and you are good to go. Then, at the end of the work day it can even become… a phone.

Legal Seafood-

Legal Seafood has just about as technologically advanced an approach to restaurants as exists. (They also have excellent food and are superb for anyone with food allergies!) When you order it is taken down on a Windows Mobile device. When you pay you do so with the "Pay At The Table Feature". That means Legal has to maintain two different devices for two different phases of the meal. Thanks to the accessory add-on feature in iPhone OS 3.0 they will need just one device.

And it gets better. The last time we were at Legal the waitress came over and told my wife that the chef didn’t like the look of the fish she had ordered. (They are amazing like that- if the chef even THINKS something might be bad s/he won’t serve it.) With all the staff carrying iPhone they could immediately get a push notification that something was off the menu for the night.


Have to track your blood pressure? Connect the blood pressure cuff to the dock, start the blood pressure app and you are good to go. The iPhone checks your pressure, displays a running chart for the last week, month or year and then automatically sends the report to your doctor.

And the list goes on and on and on and on. Try doing THAT with a Blackberry! There is no doubt the iPhone is a handheld computer more than a phone. The ability to add on hardware expands that potetially.

When Steve jobs first introduced the iPhone he noted, among other things, that because it had almost no no hardware buttons it could evolve unconstrained as the software and firmware did. And so it has. The addition of an upcoming native landscape keyboard alone speaks to the brilliance of that vision. While other phones are locked into the orientation of their hardware keyboard the iPhone was free to evolve in radically different ways than initially conceived. The openness to hardware add-ons expands this further and is largely limited only by the developers’ vision and creativity and Apple’s openness to new ideas.

With accessory add-ons the iPhone becomes the brain, the hardware becomes the means for a specific task… and in the process the iPhone moves into a realm all it’s own.