Apple iOS 5 powered iPhone 5 may not be debuting after all at Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) next week, leading people to wonder whether the next generation smart phone will be playing a catch up game or whether it is prowling for the right opportunity to reveal itself and blast its rivals into oblivion.

Steve Jobs will make a rare public appearance at WWDC as the keynote speaker starting June 6 in San Francisco, Calif. Moscone Center. People are wondering what Jobs, who took a medical leave last January, will produce on stage this time. The last time when Jobs made a public appearance in March, he introduced iPad 2.

While rumors suggest that the much-awaited next generation of iPhone (dubbed iPhone 5) may not be unveiled this time, breaking Apple’s three-year trend of introducing a new iPhone every June, Apple announced in a press release Tuesday that they will present iOS 5, the new software platform that will support mobile devices such as iPhones and iPads. The press release also mentioned Mac OS X Lion and iCloud, but no iPhone 5 was mentioned.

This led some analysts to believe that the next iPhone will be focusing on software upgrades rather than major hardware boost.

There are no details on what will be included in iOS 5 yet, but Mac users are hoping for a better navigation system, automatic sync system that runs on background, easier file organizing system, near-field communication (NFC), and some widgets on unlock screen to name a few.

iPhones have been praised for their slick design and usability but their functionality has been criticized, turning frustrated fans to Android OS-based smartphones instead. With these new software improvements, however, will Apple be able to triumph over its rivals?

It is a little skeptical at the moment.

Even with the new iOS 5, people say iPhone 5 will not surpass the capability of Android phone and the likes. Most of the rumored updates on iOS 5 are already available on Android phones, which means the next generation iOS-powered iPhone will simply be playing a catch-up game.

For instance, the turn-to-turn navigation system is not available on iPhone under current operating system unless one downloads a GPS app (usually not free) or jailbreaks. However, this is available for free on Androids.

Also, iPhone users are not allowed to customize the unlock screen the way they want (again, of course, unless one jailbreaks), something which Android users already can do.

If Apple indeed plans on trumping its rivals both on design and function, iOS 5 should include groundbreaking updates.

Otherwise, Apple will have to hope that Steve Jobs' showmanship can convince people that the next generation iPhone is as good as the latest Android phones, if not better.