Whether you are a tech junkie or just a caveman, it’s no doubt that Apple has been experiencing a “lull” since the passing of the late Steve Jobs. Innovation has decreased in output (and arguably quality), market power has declined (see Apple’s failed attempt in China), and the company has garnered increasing amounts of media scrutiny as it fails to carry the same luster it had roughly three years ago. However, Apple’s metaphorical “worm,” CEO Tim Cook, does not deserve blame, nor should he be expected to assume the footsteps of such a historic and iconic trailblazer.
But forget footsteps. With the most recent unveiling of iOS 8, the latest in Apple software engineering, Cook put on an entirely different shoe. Whether this shoe is a better fit, however, is an entirely different question.
Apple is marketing iOS 8 on its website and in its press releases as “Huge for developers. Massive for everyone else.” This slogan begs the question, “why put the spotlight on developers?” The app market has been steadily growing and is one of the few features Apple still leads in over Android and Windows, but why would they do anything to change (and potentially limit) a remaining advantage? Thus, it would make sense to cover the software highlights of the Apple’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC). A practical overview:
1. Photos: Basically it’s easier to connect your iCloud photo library with your phone and computer. Oh you can edit them too.
2. Messages: You can now send audio recordings, as well as simplified video messages in chats. Location services have been enhanced so you can share your location for a set amount of time. But most importantly, they added a do not disturb feature for group chats. Praise you, Tim Cook, no longer do I want to throw my phone against a wall when 10 people in a chat have a conversation without me. Oh, you can also delete people from group chats when you want to gossip about them.
3. Design: Interactive notifications (i.e. quick reply to messages and calendar invitations) reduce clutter. Additionally, multitasking has been broadened to include not only your recent applications, but also the disembodied faces of the people you last spoke to! With just a mistaken tap at the top of your phone, it became that much easier to butt dial your mom.
4. Smart Keyboards: Welcome to 2010, Apple! That’s right; iOS8 boasts a keyboard that suggests words to complete your sentences. Yes, this feature is a definite plus, but Android phones have showcased this feature for years.
5. Family Sharing: “Family sharing makes it easy for up to six people in your family to share each other’s iTunes, iBooks, and App Store purchases.” Okay, so this update can spell success and disaster. Obviously, people are going to use Apple products more frequently, because they can split costs with their friends. Yet the flaw arises when Apple’s purchases will be cut by a sixth. It’s a gamble and could potentially pay off (because it is a feature Android doesn’t sport), but nonetheless, it’s a gamble.
6. Health: Okay this is pretty innovative. Essentially, Apple has entered the medical world by introducing a new dashboard devoted entirely to answering the question, “How are you?” Not only can you count calories and monitor your sleep schedule, but you can instantly access Lab Results, manage your Medications, and contact your doctor at the tap of your finger. I’m no fitness star, but this seems like a star development in an abyss of lackluster innovations.
7. Connected Interface: The “tour de force” of iOS8. Now, your Mac, iPhone, and iPad are all interconnected. That is, you can transfer your work “seamlessly” between the devices. In theory, this concept sounds bold. In actuality, I’m willing to bet this is going to be a train wreck. Just think – people will be able to access your texts, emails, and phone calls from devices not in your possession. Also, iPhones are proficient at dropping calls on their own, but now we get to increase that risk every time you transfer to another device. Say goodbye to your unsaved emails and word documents!
So, Tim Cook and the rest of Apple’s development team definitely made an attempt to progress in, or at least catch up to, modern times. As a company, Apple seems to have realized where their products lack in respect to their competition, but in most cases, their attempts to compete seem weak and unoriginal. The largest problem, in my opinion, is that Cook is trying to deliver at standards that simply cannot exist for Apple anymore. This update seems heavily hinged on the increased activity of app developers, simply by granting them more iOS capabilities and a new programming language. Naturally the success of iOS8 is something only time can tell, but it seems as if too many risks were taken, without sufficient analysis.
I’ll admit, five years ago, I would have pledged much more faith in the potential of a development of this caliber. Simply put, Apple was a stronger company in the past and would have garnered the support and compliance that Apple is betting on today. Times have changed, and honestly, so should the corporate strategy.