The Apple PDA: The iPhone Minus the Phone

So Apple is planning to put OS X into the iPod; or some iPods… As Ars Technica reports, Steve Jobs said the above during an address to Apple employees yesterday. The Ars Technica article says, “He then expanded upon OS X, and what it means for the business. There is one OS group that does Mac OS X for the Mac and the iPhone, as well as ‘some iPods we’re working on.'” Ars speculates that the “the next major revision to the iPod video will, in fact, be a widescreen iPod similar to that of the iPhone,” but I think they’re not looking far enough ahead. After all, why would Apple need to put OS X into an iPod to make it widescreen? No, what this means is that Apple will finally be coming out with a PDA. Imagine the iPhone without the phone (and maybe without the camera). The same form factor as the iPhone, the same touch-screen interface and keyboard, but not phone. You would have all the usual PDA features–contacts, calendars, to-do lists, etc.–which would interface directly with what’s on your Mac, and probably on your PC. After all, the iPod already does this, though not very well. But you’d get more: wifi access to your local network so you can browse the web and read your email, and something the iPhone doesn’t allow, the ability to put files on it to take with you.

It seems a given, looking at what the iPhone does, that Apple is not going to waste all the R&D that went into developing the phone’s interface. A few tweaks and you’d have a PDA. Whether it would be a PDA-iPod, as the iPhone is part PDA, or a dedicated PDA remains to be seen. I can see it being pretty much like the iPhone, though I’d want it to have a hard disk so it can hold more music, videos and files.

Given the amount of time it will take to get the iPhone into circulation in all the major markets (that is, not just the US), I doubt we’d see this very quickly. This said, after seeing how the iPhone works in iPod mode, do you really want to buy another boring iPod with a tiny screen, and no touch-screen interface? So can Apple get this new iPod out for, say, next January’s Macworld Expo? I hope so. I’ll buy one of those.