Apple’s announcement: what’s in store for Japanese users?

Business Features Technology Trends & Culture - September 10th, 2013

As Apple fans are well aware, the wizards of Cupertino will be announcing a new iPhone on September 10.

Being on this side of the International Date Line means that die-hard fans have to wait until the next day in order to see what magic has been pulled from the hat while they were sleeping.

But thanks to the tireless work of countless Apple rumor mongers, we “know” a few things about the upcoming phone(s): the form factor of the iPhone 5S, as it is being called, should be the same as the current iPhone 5, and it is almost certain that a “gold” version will be released, partially to satisfy the Chinese market, alongside a graphite model.

A faster processor in the 5S will be on the way, and the home button is likely to be outfitted with a fingerprint sensor. In addition, we can expect a lower-cost version – the iPhone 5C.

Another important change will be iOS 7, which should prove to be one of the most dramatic user interface changes in the development of the OS, and app designers around the world have been and will be hustling to make sure that the look of their app fits with this new design.

But what’s important for Japanese iPhone users?

First, Japan’s largest carrier will be getting the iPhone this time around: DoCoMo is expected to get the iPhone. This should make the seemingly ever-present device even more visible as you move around town.

Expat users who use Skype to phone home might find some interest in making voice over IP with FaceTime Audio. This change to Apple’s video messaging app will allow users to make an end-run around long-distance fees. However, unless the other end of the conversation is using an iProduct as well, you’re out of luck.

Another development that should make a difference are the improvements to Apple’s Maps application. Even the most rabidly pro-Apple users will remember updating to iOS 6 and losing all of the benefits of Google’s mapping services, including train directions. Many people even refused to update until Google released a new iOS app, and stories of people getting dangerously lost didn’t help the Apple Maps’s reputation. Japanese place names were woefully inadequate at first, but they improved over time. With a few recent acquisitions, Apple is showing that it is slowly stepping up its mapping game. Of course, these improvements will take time to filter down to Japanese users, so we can’t expect next morning’s announcement to deliver instant changes.

Even though recent years have taken some of the excitement out of Apple events, there are bound to be a few surprises in the announcement tomorrow. We’ll see what kind of magic is in store for us in the morning.

Image: William Hook/Flickr