Apple unveiled its vision for the future of mobile computing last week and the Internet erupted.
A new feud was born, not between iOS fans and Android fans or between Apple fans and Samsung fans, but among iOS users themselves. On one side, a legion of iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users were fawning over the redesigned software shown off by Jony Ive and company. It’s a breath of fresh air… it’s amazing… it’s “positively mind-blowing.” On the other side, iOS 7 was panned. Many long-time Apple fans watched in horror as Apple peeled back the layers on its new iOS interface, and all the great features were instantly overshadowed by Apple’s controversial new design. Is iOS 7 a brilliant push forward? Is it a tragedy in the making?
My biggest problem with iOS 7 is the same problem I had with iOS 6, which was the same problem I had with iOS 5: Apple’s mobile platform just isn’t getting any smarter.
A fear I had leading up to WWDC was that Apple might be spending all of its time and resources on a visual redesign, which could have meant exciting new features and important enhancements would be few and far between. Reality ended up being a bit less grim, but Apple certainly did not strike a balance between renovation and innovation. iOS 7 does include some important new functionality, of course, but the emphasis was clearly on design.
What meaningful, innovative functions can iOS 7 perform that iOS 6 could not?
Many Apple pundits keep making the same argument over and over again. Apple doesn’t have to innovate every year. Apple is the most profitable smartphone vendor in the world. The iPhone 5 is the best-selling smartphone on the planet. iOS gets better all the time. And so on. But how much longer will this argument work before people start to want more? How much longer will we be happy with the same core feature set underneath a few new functions borrowed from other platforms?
As I noted, iOS 7 is the beginning of the next chapter in the book of iOS. This is the foundation that Apple will build on in iOS 8 and beyond. And truly I hope Apple has some surprises in store for us — some real innovation — because based on what I’m hearing from well-placed sources at one of Apple’s biggest rivals, things are about to get pretty exciting in the smartphone industry over the next few years.