In 2007, Apple created a revolution in computing with the iPhone. It marked the beginning of a journey for smartphones as the single most important device in people’s lives. Something so personal and so indispensable that will go on to become one that we’d carry 24×7. In 2013, Apple is truly acknowledging that they are becoming followers and not trend setters.
WWDC 2013 (TechCrunch highlights here) left me unimpressed. Minus a couple of odd security features, iOS7 mostly appears to be catching up with the explosive innovation that has happened in Android over the last couple of years. Let’s run down some of this:
From Skeuomorphic To Flat
This has been rumored so much, I’m almost tired of it already! Maybe it’s just me – but, I don’t quite get the hype about this transformation. Not to belittle the design changes – as always, the design is pleasing and fantastic. But, a choice between skeuomorphic and flat seems rather a matter of taste. Some claim flatter is more modern, I personally think the real world feel of OS X and iOS icons were brilliant – but, really the appeal of this flat iOS7 is all about change, I believe. Today’s fast changing world seems to get bored with UI designs quite easily – for that, the iOS7 redesign brings a beautiful alternative. But, I fail to see all the fuss over this change!
I really feel I can put everything else in one bucket for sake of this discussion. Easy access controls, a bezel swipe to go back, (intelligent) multi-tasking, a better notification center – these are all about catch up (it’s about time!).
Sure, iTunes Radio can be a big deal – but, it’s a me-too game as well.
In short, I see nothing innovative from Apple this time around. Nothing at all. In fact, I’d go so far to say that they have a long way to go to catch up – for example, where is the predictive gesture keyboard iOS so badly needs? I use several Apple products and am constantly amazed by the performance of these products. I absolutely love the smoothness of iOS animations and overall performance. But, Apple has just not given me a reason to feel the urge to switch.
Unfortunately for Apple, this is evidence that they’ve gone from trendsetting to following. This also shows that a hungry and innovating ecosystem cannot be beaten by innovation from a single player. I wrote about how Google I/O demonstrated an innovating ecosystem. I think iOS7 just made it clear that Android is leaps and bounds ahead in packing intelligence into these devices. All these years, Apple could afford to lag in functionality as their products more than compensated for that in usability and design. But, the rest of the world has caught up to that and more. Usability and design is paramount everywhere now – everybody gets that they need to focus on design or they will perish.
So, with Apple stripped of the design advantage, it is really time to evaluate how to foster innovation through the ecosystem rather than trying to go at it alone, not to mention without the vision of Jobs to guide them!