iOS 7 is the make it or break it moment for Apple

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My first “smartphone” was a Blackberry that allowed me to tether my laptop to it for Internet access. That Blackberry was replaced by a Curve, which while I loved for sending emails, sucked for pretty much anything else. I didn’t get an iPhone until the iPhone 4 a few years ago and I do love my iOS. I’m not stupid though. I’ve made the jump from Mac to Windows to Mac as necessity deemed right. I’ve played with lots of other OSes, admittedly I haven’t used a newer Android device, and I like to give credit where credit is due. Which is why I have to say: Apple needs to knock iOS 7 out of the park.

Three articles I read recently really sparked this, although we’ve all been thinking the same thing lately, Dan Lyons over at RWW on Jellybean, a guest column by Ralf Rottmann on Gizmodo about switching to a Nexus 4, and a post by Liz Gannes at AllThingsD on how she doesn’t use core Apple apps any more. All of these drive home the core point—Apple lost its edge with iOS 6 and it needs to step up its game with iOS 7 or start to become, well, Microsoft.

Microsoft was so successful for so long because they became entrenched in businesses. People couldn’t imagine a world where starting a task didn’t start with the Start menu. Slowly but surely, Apple snuck in and, according to Forrester, will sell $39 billion in Macs and iDevices to businesses in the next two years. That’s taking over the industry, and while Windows still (sadly) dominates the corporate workplace, Apple is getting their foot in the door.

Apple is in a similar position as Microsoft, as far as iOS goes. For years iOS has set the bar for a great mobile OS and app ecosystem, but it has backslid of late. There was nothing revolutionary or even evolutionary about iOS 6, it was purely solidifying what came before. I’m sure Apple knows this. Maybe it’s like Snow Leopard and Lion, versions of the OS needed as transition points to something bigger and better.

Maybe.

Apple needs to look at how people want to use their devices (as the Gizmodo article points out) and help people do it. I don’t think that full-scale customization is the way to go, but as pod2g suggests a system of “approved tweaks” could work well. Even letting people pick the default apps (which I do think has been a plan all along, just as soon as Google had solid apps to offer) would go a long way to putting the lustre back on iOS.

If Apple misses this opportunity, well…we can start thinking about how to transition to Android I guess.

Photo from Flickr by Graham Campbell.

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  • http://twitter.com/turtleglue super phlip

    Oh, what a silly article. Yeah, the most valuable company of the world might come crashing in the public view because it’s operating system update doesn’t dazzle. Histrionic titling is for amateurs.

    • http://rounak.me/ Rounak Jain

      That’s how rim must have thought before it went down, same with Nokia probably. (Without the most valuable company bit, of course.)

    • lggeek

      That’s EXACTLY how Apple thought the last time they went from high flyer to within weeks of closing the doors. Cockiness ( especially towards your customers) will take you out much faster then your competitor ever could.

  • Marius

    “and while Windows still (sadly) dominates the corporate workplace”
    Damn those companies for not wanting to buy a few thousand overpriced computers and for wanting to run what they want, not what Apple wants on them.

    • FrankT

      Not to mention the fact that windows is infinitely more manageable at a corporate scale – Apple products don’t even come close. It’s becoming more and more common on this website for unfounded opinions to be passed off as fact, frankly it’s just bad reporting.

  • Kimk69

    Um, thanks for sharing that with me.

  • http://twitter.com/HiTekkSteff Stephaughn Alston

    It’s funny how when a train starts everybody hops aboard. Would you have written this article if others didn’t?

    • Roland

      I do not think it’s a hopping aboard: Apple introduced many many cool things and you can life very well with these phones, but also Android (Google) have and had many good ideas. It’s normal in life to look left and right to see new things and I think more and more customer want these features also on a iPhone or they change….

  • proof reading goes a long way

    “and I like to give credit where credit is do. ” *due
    You really need to proof read your articles.. almost every article has mistakes in it.

  • iP5

    if Apple would incorporated some of the Cydia apps (i.e BiteSMS – really miss it on iPhone5, SBS Settings, themes, etc…) for many it would eliminate need for jailbreaking and would make iOS so much more robust. they just don’t want to pay for patents and many of these features already incorporated someplace else.

  • Pacomacman

    Try using the latest Android devices before jumping on your high horse! I’ve bought several in the hope they had mproved, including the Nexus 4 and 10, both good devices, but glitchy as hell… Project Butter is not a match for the smoothness of iOS, despite what you read. One minute everything is smooth, the next even scrolling your home screens is down at 3-4fps…. this never happens on iOS.

    Widgets would be nice, but they contribute greatly to battery drain, and don’t even get me started on animated walpapers.

    People say iOS isn’t a real OS, yet it’s 90% Mac OS with a Cocoa Touch layer on top. What is Android? An OS written mainly in Java, which limits the development languages, is not so low level, and puts developers like myself off. I’ve written software for both, but I can make my iOS apps run so much faster and actually earn money from them, unlike Android.

    What Apple need more than anything is to get the hardware right, return to the 4:3 aspect ration and give us a 5in screen. Not interested in NFC or gimmicks like that, I’ve seldom found a use for it.

    • Size matters

      5″ @ 4:3, that just sounds so HUGE

    • http://www.facebook.com/THExREALxTACO Jeremy Taco Patterson

      People forget about little things like scroll lag/shudder and slow page loads because they’re using Androids most wonderfullest OS, JellyCreamTwinkieBear or whatever silly name they come up with.

      When it comes down to it, iOS is “safe”. Some say boring, and comparatively speaking, that’s true in some ways. However, it’s reliable and stable ALWAYS. Android may offer some neat-o widgets and such, but it comes at the expense of spyware, glitches, and instability.

      I’ll take safe and boring over kitschy and inconsistent.

      • http://www.facebook.com/liamsagooch Liam Googolplex Merlyn

        couldn’t have said it better

        • http://www.facebook.com/THExREALxTACO Jeremy Taco Patterson

          Thanks!

  • Pacomacman

    I just bought myself a Sony Vaio Duo 11 Windows 8 Pro tablet this Xmas, it’s better than all my Android tablets, but I still spend more time on my iPad! I think Apple are pretty safe for now. And the important thing to note was my 4th generation iPad was half the price of the Windows tablet. There is still no competition I’m afraid, but it’s coming, from Microsoft.

  • Jeff

    Transition to Android, lol!

  • Apel P

    Ya I’m sorry but I do not agree with the PC Side. Windows to me is much better for computing. Apple is to closed. Where as on windows I can do anything I desire. And as for iOS 7. Yes if apple dosnt “Hit it out of the ball park” I’m sorry but ill switch. And I had an iphone since the first one.

    • intheknow

      What kind of computing do you do which warrants your assertion that Windows “is much better for computing”? How is Apple closed? what can you do on Windows which you can’t do on Mac OSX? Post a few, and I or someone will respond on how do it with a Mac, and how to do it with free open source software.

      • Apel P

        Like most games and a ton of other programs. Nobody wants to emulate programs to run them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/THExREALxTACO Jeremy Taco Patterson

    I’m disappointed in you, Tris. Your articles are usually much more relevant and thorough.

    This is the same tired debate people have been having for what seems like years now: Apple better evolve or a mass exodus to Android will surely befall their customer base.

    Hasn’t happened yet. iPhone 5 sold and is selling like MAD, iPads and iPad Mini’s are flying off shelves. The App Store continues to absolutely DESTROY Google Play… Etc, etc, etc…

    I expect more from from you!!!

    • Pat

      :D apple will crash if you are the CEO, guarranteed! Sales do not mean satisfaction!

      • http://www.facebook.com/THExREALxTACO Jeremy Taco Patterson

        Do a little research before you make statements, please.

        Apple consistently ranks #1 in customer satisfaction for both devices and customer service.

        And I never said I am or will be the CEO of any company. However, I do know sales SHOULD equal profit (they do for Apple, not so much for Android. And yes I can provide facts to back up these statements) and for a CEO, when it comes down to it, profit equals success.

        But SUPER COOL of you to stop by!

        • http://twitter.com/BrianLCharles Brian Charles

          “Do a little research before you make statements, please.” You should heed your own advice. You are comparing a company (Apple) to an operating system (Android). “I can provide facts to back up these statements” Please show us your facts with sources to back up your statements.

          • http://www.facebook.com/THExREALxTACO Jeremy Taco Patterson

            Certainly.

            http://techpinions.com/android-v-ios-part-2-profits/9369

            http://bgr.com/2012/08/06/apple-mobile-industry-profit-share-q2-2012/

            As far as heeding my own advice, perhaps you need to re-evaluate the context. I was replying to Pat’s statement that “sales do not mean satisfaction”.

            But also SUPER COOL of you to come at me as well. Please, feel free to continue.

          • http://www.facebook.com/THExREALxTACO Jeremy Taco Patterson

            Hellooooooo???

          • http://twitter.com/BrianLCharles Brian Charles

            I don’t spend my days on forums, so I just happened to catch the reply. Also, congratulations for Alabama even though it wasn’t a game. The first link does the same thing, comparing a company to an operating system. The second link actually compares companies (Android providers if you will) to a company (Apple). “Remember, HP and Dell still sell a lot more PCs than Apple sells Macs, but does it matter?” – From your second source. So Apple sells more than the companies providing Android on their products. Does it matter?
            Not sure how it would be measured, but I think it would be interesting to see how many Apple users are leaving. Put it this way, say Apple has 80% increase in new purchasers (referring to the products flying off the shelves like you previously mentioned), but let’s say that 30% of current Apple users are like me and beginning to take the blinders off and buying a Nexus instead of a mini (or some other Android product instead of Apple product) then its really 50%. Numbers are made up. I’m just trying to make a point. Apple could have a revolving door. Sure sales are great and people are coming in the front door, just don’t look at those that are leaving out the back door.
            While I’m at it. I find it incredibly interesting that people spout off the greatness of the Apple store over the Google Play store. Apple over 500,000 apps and Google over 400,000 apps. How many do you need? At that point, 100,000 doesn’t really matter. If you’re going to go the quality route, I’ve seen junk on both and really good stuff on both.

          • http://www.facebook.com/THExREALxTACO Jeremy Taco Patterson

            Gonna throw the ol’ BS flag on you here. And I QUOTE:

            “The Android operating system may be outselling the iPhone 4 to 1, but Apple’s iOS operating system is out profiting not just Android but the entire mobile industry 3 to 1.”

            That is Android OS to Apple iOS. How much more direct a comparison do you need.

            You want customer retention numbers? I got those too.

            http://techpinions.com/android-v-ios-part-6-the-future/9687

            Customer retention info is at #5, but the whole article is relevant. Read it, it’s good stuff from an unbiased site.

            Also, regarding App Store vs Google Play, MUCH more telling that numbers of apps available is that Devs develop for iOS first. Universally, they know that getting their app on the App Store will get money in their pocket faster. THEN, then “port it” if you will to Google Play. Just think about that objectively if you will:

            More than 3 times as many Android users as iOS, yet they want to be on iOS FIRST. What possible reason could there be for that…

            Look simply to the profit CHASM that exists between iOS and Android. It’s not even close. Apple’s customers pay more, more often. Period. It’s more profitable to have an app in the App Store. Period.

            And thanks. Roll Tide!!!

          • http://twitter.com/BrianLCharles Brian Charles

            No need for a BS flag, man. Yes, you’re right. There is a half sentence in there that is easy to miss. You have to admit the second link was more obvious in the comparison. What do you think about this -> “Remember, HP and Dell still sell a lot more PCs than Apple sells Macs, but does it matter?” – From your second source. So Apple sells more than the companies providing Android on their products. Does it matter?

            I’ll go for your developer profitability argument for the Apple store. However, most of the time that isn’t the argument being made. Posts point to as the reason (sometimes the only or biggest reason) to choose Apple over Android.

            I’ll check out your recent techpinions link.

            Also, is there a way for me to get notification when you reply? Thanks

          • http://www.facebook.com/THExREALxTACO Jeremy Taco Patterson

            No way to get notifications that I am aware of. That would be nice.

            As far as all the minor points, they could be thrown out with the dishwater as far as I am concerned. Profit equals success, and anybody who argues that point is quite simply a fool, in my humble opinion.

            Apple made THREE TIMES more money than Android, BlackBerry, Windows and any other Mobile OS provider COMBINED. Let that sink in… You add up ALL the other companies in the market, and Apple outsold them all 3 times over.

            Market share be damned, that is why businesses operate: PROFIT.

          • http://twitter.com/BrianLCharles Brian Charles

            I’m good with that. My take away from the recap on techpinion was that neither are going away, both will succeed, they actually need each other in the market and I’m good with that too.

    • http://rounak.me/ Rounak Jain

      The iOS homescreen has remained almost the same through six iterations of the software. Right from the 128MB RAM iPhone 1 to the 1GB ram ~1.6GHz iPhone 5. Surely a lot more things could be added to the home screen to utilise this raw power. Information needs to be easily accessible, which is where google now excels greatly, and to some extent the widgets on android and the live tiles on windows phone.

      When people complain about iPhone hardware, they ignore the massive amounts of effort it takes to pack in such components in a thin design. They ignore the design itself. They ignore so many things. On the software side though, I think the concerns are valid. iOS does feel stale.

      • http://www.facebook.com/THExREALxTACO Jeremy Taco Patterson

        I TOTALLY agree. It is quite stale and has been for 3 generations of iOS now. I’m NOT arguing that point at all. My point was that this “the sky is falling” chatter has also been going on for at least as long, yet each new iteration of the iPhone (and therefore each new generation of iOS) sells like gangbusters.

  • me

    “Apple needs to look at how people want to use their devices…” NO, Apple’s hamartia is they want to TELL people how to use their devices. Goodbye Apple.

  • Lick my left nut!

    The only reason people jail break is to pillage the apps and not pay for them. And who really cares about moving wall papers on android, who sits there all day to watch it? Get a life people. All the company’s give us a device to use how it is that’s it. If company xxxxx doesn’t do this than I switch well those people have no idea for them self and are sheep, until you develop apps your self for each system then you are sheep and have no idea, just because say ios doesn’t have sbs setting I will switch to android,, really? Just for a app that you really don’t need and only have to show your friends that really don’t care and think you are a wanker anyway… Come on people grow and and if you use any device how it is intended you really won’t need to pretend that you need crap like sbs settings… Etc the list goes on, I am sooo against Cydia fr the only reason that you should never pay for any app that is not approved by the company who made the device and this goes for apple, google, and MS cause developers like me earn a living from this and piracy is just soooo wrong.

    • DrDave

      This comment is sooo bogus. I jailbreak so I can actually use my device for things I need to do. I have never had any pirated apps and I have several apps from Cydia that I paid for. What about all the Cydia developers? Don’t they deserve to make money, too?

  • Roland

    Well, I’m on iPhone since the 3GS and i loved it for years. But there are several things i WANT do decide for myself. So i jailbreaked all of them but NOT to pirate Apps! I installed several Cydia-Apps which I think gave the iOS-System the last touch for perfection. Nobody really cares about moving wallpapers but why IF you want it, can’t decide it for yourself? A simple Message should pop up and say “These setting shortens battery life and performance” and everybody should aware of it, that that slows down the phone. I loved the capabilities of BiteSMS which i bought. Why the hell I cannot have a simple way to switch on and off the Wifi for instance like with SBSettings? These and much more other things made me buy a Android-Based phone. Apple changed the world of the phones, but you can’t stand still!

    • intheknow

      yes, yes, and yes. some tweaks do make the iOS experience better. I regularly use about 10 cydia addons. now to offer some general discussion: the problem is some cydia tweaks have a negative impact, as do many android apps & tweaks, and it may not be clear to the general user what is causing the issue. therefore, tweaks & apps vetted by the apple app store process help to improve the chances of a usable product. it’s just a balance of value coming from both ends: tweakers & grandmas (sorry for the gross stereotype). Apple has chosen their balance point. we should not take it personally. if anyone thinks Apple is blowing it, then please explain how their products are as popular as they are. the good news is, you can have either Android or Apple, or both. the evolutionary pressure from the Android community is a great motivating for for Apple, and visa versa. if you Apple haters / Android drones don’t think Apple/iOS has helped to evolve Android, then you are mistaken. love your Android, and wish Apple the best, because Apple is helping your cause. they are both helping each other. competition breeds excellence.

  • mkimid

    Next generation of iPhone, and iOS 7 will be very important to decide the future of Apple.

  • Jesus

    Apple product are only good if it’s the latest version. After that they are the most slowest and unreliable product out there like every other products. You have to constantly buy a new device cause after the third update the iPhone/iPad runs so slow because of the more ram memory that’s comes with a new iOS. And then after a while the apps that you are using needs to be update which requires you to have more memory and if not that app constantly closes.
    I have an IPad 1 and it’s more slower than I original bought it. I had this theory that why upgrade to a device to go see the same apps and website but now I realize that I have to upgrade cause apple don’t put enough memory to up hold at least three iOS changes while not losing some memory.

    • http://twitter.com/BrianLCharles Brian Charles

      And Apple purposely does this

    • Steve

      This is TOTALLY FALSE.

      I have a friends and family that has a 3GS and its still smooth and runs great.

      Can it run the very latest apps smoothly, of course not, the device is 4 years old.

      I have Android devices that are a little over 1 year old and they are extremely choppy, apps force close and don’t work anymore.

      Apple products are much more future proof than any other OS/device.

    • intheknow

      yeah. wrong. i have a wide range of iOS devces which are 2-4 generations old. they do what they did when purchased as well as ever. some apps do come along which are now hooked in to ad streams, and the data rates for the device itself are impacted as a result. or the app is taking advantage of new hardware capabilities. but that’s a function of the app: the app has moved on.
      so what it sounds like you want is: old hardware to run new apps designed for new hardware. cool. put that on your resume.

  • Itsyaboy

    I suggested this to Tim cook so many times and saw this coming its exactly how I feel about the ios and iphone I suggested that apple creats a legit jailbreak per say that will allow tweaks and costimizations withought pirating apps it’s a win win for them and for us and also for them to partner up with cydia and create a tweak store that would blow the iPhones edge boost like crazy

  • barondebxl

    I agree, IOS 7 is the most important update yet, they have to somehow bring some UI changes or its gonna cost apple.

  • DiamondDNice

    Apple can learn from Windows 8. Change for change sake to appease the tech crowd is a stupid thing to do. Improve but don’t change to appease these guys. I’ll just leave and go to Android then. If change isn’t a monumental improvement which many of apple’s recent changes haven’t been change for change sake will lose me as a customer not keep me. It’s like trying to make me drink New Coke when i didn’t want New Coke.

  • FaceFlipBookApp

    I think Apple will always be at an advantage as they produce software and hardware. As other OS’s come and go, iOS and features will remain consistent. There are also the masses that are already using OSX, which also familiarizes users with the mobile OS. It’s going to be a tough hill to climb in the long run for competitors.

  • Tom

    It is a little silly, but there is some truth to it: I worked in the software industry for a couple decades and I have definitely seen a trend for incompetent and sclerotic management that failed to deliver anything meaningful, to suddenly start changing icons to pretend they accomplished something,

    Most of the time, the icon change is managed by the same morons who couldn’t decide on anything, so what you get is typically some design-by-committe (think long meetings that achieve nothing, driven by ego and politics and producing ideas inconsistent with yesterday’s meeting). The result is usually ugly inconsistent and unusable.

    Apple certainly seems to fit this pattern: it has not accomplished anything since Jobs passed away, and management felt the pressure to “do something”, so.. they changed the look of the UI. The process was driven by politics (Forstall outing) and ego (Jony Ive) and resulted in a butt-ugly mess that is not even usable (some fonts are not visible based on the background because they got rid of text shadows to give Ive’s this horrid “flat look”)

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