iOS 7’s huge changes show how dated Apple’s platform had become
As Apple’s exec team showed off yet another new iOS 7 feature, it was becoming increasingly clear to those not caught up in the febrile atmosphere of San Francisco’s Moscone Center that we were seeing just how badly Cupertino had dropped the ball.
Not with this, a truly impressive, if largely derivative software boost.
But over the past few years, when it allowed complacency to slip in and released a series of iOS updates that lacked some key basics that rival platforms offer as standard.
The partisan crowd whooped and hollered as features like Control Center and an overhauled, tab-friendly Safari were revealed.
In reality, these are functions which should have been front and centre on iOS for ages. Control Center is a great idea and a welcome addition to iOS.
But it’s hardly revolutionary, with many of its features already available as part of the latest Google Android software.
Safari tabs look ace too. But removing the eight-tab limit and offering an easier way to flick through open web pages is again a move that the iOS team should have made in previous iterations.
The same can be said of excellent multitasking functionality, along with the ‘Today’ feature in Control Center that is clearly gunning for Google Now.
There’s no denying that Jony Ive has done an almighty job in changing and tweaking a platform that, under Scott Forstall, had become cluttered and dated in so many ways.
But there are so many features here that simply feel like much sharper, more intuitively realised versions of Google and Microsoft ideas.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but why had things been allowed to slip so much for such a major overhaul and the inclusion of these tools (finally) to happen?
Sales of iPhones haven’t exactly dipped, meaning the focus has clearly been on keeping sales steady.
There’s also the fear of what long-time users might have made of a big shift in design. That fear has clearly been conquered.
But the endless digs at Scott Forstall throughout the keynote, whether it was for his ring binder Calendar design, Game Center’s faux felt background or Newsstand’s fake wood paneling, felt pretty cheap.
If they all hated it so much, why were Tim Cook, Phil Schiller et al signing off on it?
Pinning iOS’s previous failings on one man was tawdry and unnecessary. Clearly, though errors were made, iOS 7 brings Apple right up to speed.
And even though rivals will, rightly in many cases, bemoan its similarities to other platforms, it will doubtless ensure new iPhones and those already packing the requisite tech, look and feel like whole new handsets.
That means bigger sales, which means an increased bottom line and boosted share prices.
The question is, why did it take Apple this long to realise that a revolution was needed?
By Joe Minihane