Though consumers will not be able to get their hands on the iPhone 5 until late next week, the new product’s updated software has long been on the minds of New Haven’s tech entreupreneurs.
On Wednesday, when Apple unveiled an upgrade to the software and hardware of their hugely popular smartphone in San Francisco, the heads of three New Haven-based tech companies waited to hear what the annoucement would entail. Developers at local startups based in New Haven’s Science Park said the iPhone’s new features will give them the opportunity to build more robust applications for their clients. But with each new Apple annoucement comes the possibility that the tech giant will build smaller companies’ ideas into their software, said Nick Jaensch, founder of Shizzlr, a New Haven-based software company.
Among other features, developers will now be able to take advantage of Apple’s mapping, Facebook integration and new camera tools. Derek Koch, CEO of Independent Software, a company that builds websites and mobile applications for local start-ups, said he is particularly excited by the possibilities of turn-by-turn directions and real-time traffic data in Maps. He added that the new software has made Facebook’s features more accessible to developers for use in their apps.
“Part of how we get ready for a platform change like this is by … getting in and playing around in the context of the new product,” he said. Koch added that he and his team ask themselves, “What’s changing and how does it affect our current products?”
Jaensch, whose company helps users discover local events and places and share them with friends in a group chat, hopes to be able to incorporate a new iPhone feature called Passbook into Shizzlr. Passbook is a built-in application developed by Apple that collects boarding passes, loyalty cards, coupons and movie tickets and uses GPS to send notifications “at the appropriate time and place,” according to Apple’s website. By tapping into Passbook, Shizzlr will enable users to make plans in a group chat on sites like movietickets.com, buy tickets with friends, and scan them at the theater using Passbook — all without leaving the app.
Several of the iPhone’s new hardware features also present local entrepreneurs with the opportunity to improve their products. The new A6 processor, which is both two times faster and 22 percent smaller than its predecessor, will help Jaensch make Shizzlr run faster. Developers will also have more screen real estate to work with as the screen is now 4 inches, up from 3.5.
Along with the potential for product improvements and new innovations, though, Apple announcements also carry with them a good deal of uncertainty.
Jaensch said that before these events he often feels nervous that Apple might make his company irrelevant by incorporating its services directly into their software. This worry is not unfounded, he added, as other companies like Instagram may be threatened by new social features in the default Photos app revealed on Wednesday. This time around, Jaensch said, Shizzlr was not affected negatively by the updates.
The iPhone 5 is set to go on sale on Sept. 21 at a starting price of $199.