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iPhone 5S will bring back 'one more thing,' analyst says

On the heels of a Galaxy S4 release that was solid but not mind-blowing, word is that Apple is planning a killer software feature for the next iPhone.

Is it time to get excited about the future of smartphones again?

Not wowed by the HTC One or Samsung Galaxy S4? One analyst says never fear -- Apple is preparing a killer feature for the iPhone 5S that will crush the notion that smartphones are becoming a commodity product like so many soybeans traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (or smartypants similes on gadget blogs).

If you've been paying attention to the almost monthly march of big-time smartphone releases for the past year and a half, you may have noticed a pattern. Each new iPhone, Android flagship, and even the Lumia and BlackBerry, is faster, more powerful, and prettier than the last with a few gimmicky features that raise eyebrows for a few weeks, but no game-changing innovation.

For a few great glory years there, Apple was the company to count on for a great new killer feature in the form of Steve Jobs' infamous "one more thing." In fact, arguably the last time we were all abuzz with a groundbreaking new phone feature was when the iPhone 4S was introduced with Siri about a year and a half ago. And even Siri didn't end up quite catching fire and creating a nation of silly people talking to their phones all day.

But Katy Huberty -- who covers enterprise systems and PC hardware for Morgan Stanley and is a frequent Apple watcher -- says the smartphone renaissance isn't over just yet. Speaking on CNBC today, she said that while Apple (specifically its stock price) is in a bit of a funk, she predicts a comeback powered by some hot new software features on the next new iPhone:

You saw the Samsung Galaxy S4 come out last week, that shows you the innovation cards are up for grabs. What is lacking in (the S4) is a killer feature. We think that's where Apple will surprise this year. This (iPhone) 5S cycle this year will be about a killer feature that drives consumers increasingly to the platform...

OK, sounds good, but a quick reality check. If you're Apple and you're in a bit of a quiet period with a slumping stock price and your chief competitor has been bathing in headlines over its latest release for several days, it's pretty easy to simply put out the word that you're planning something non-specifically cool.

But it's also interesting that we seem to be talking about a software-based feature. Perhaps smartphone hardware is becoming more like those ubiquitous soybeans, carrying the same amount of diversity and excitement as a chunk of tofu.

Regardless, now the pressure is on Apple to dig deep and come up with something sweet. I'm rooting for some wicked smartphone karaoke software. What killer feature would you like to see in the next iPhone?

(Via Barron's)