By Joe Levi | April 23, 2013 7:24 AM
iOS is getting boring. Yes, it’s simplistic. Yes, the design is clean. Almost anyone can pick up an iPhone or iPad and immediately know how to use it. Therein lies the largest strength — and the most notable weakness in Apple’s mobile operating system.
Android, on the other hand, comes in almost limitless packages with a different look and feel from every manufacturer — and if you don’t like it you can swap out that look for another as easily as installing an app. That flexibility, however, comes with a significant learning curve whenever you switch devices, or are asked to use someone else’s phone.
Neither platform is “perfect”, and both have a lot they could learn from each other. Today let’s take a look at 5 things iOS 7 could learn from Android to make iOS 7 a success.
Widgets are one thing that Android has the iOS doesn’t — well, not really. On Android smartphones and tablets users can place re-sizable widgets on their home screens that show the current weather, the upcoming forecast, current stock prices, what their friends are up to, how long it will take you to get home from wherever you are, your upcoming calendar appointments, and so much more!
iOS can’t simply copy the way Android enables apps to present this information on your launch screen (and even your lock screen), they need to improve on how Android does it. It needs to be transparent and obvious, and should require little programming on the part of app developers to enable their applications to be widget friendly.
It won’t be easy, but it’s got to be done… and is long overdue.
Let’s face it: iOS is just a grid of icons — at least that’s what everybody sees. There’s a lot that can be done to make the boring grid more functional while adding a certain flair and whimsy to your smartphone and tablet. Apple can’t do this to their “stock launcher” because they’ve already dug their heals in and have made sure every iOS device looks just like every other iOS device. Boring!
Apple has an out: they can simply ship the stock iOS launcher as the default on all their devices, but include a new, alternate launcher than you, the user, can select. This new launcher could shed the old look and feel for something new and fresh, with added function and visual appeal. Additionally, 3rd party app developers could then be able to create their own launchers that you could install from the app story, which would finally allow iOS users to customize their “grid” into something much more compelling!
Apple’s strangle-hold on application installations has got to go. I’ve got half-a-dozen apps written for Android that I’d like to make available on iPhones, but the cost of entry into the Apple eco-system is a bit off-putting. It’s not necessarily prohibitive, but I’d like to be able to distribute my apps my way until I’ve made enough money with them to warrant formal inclusion in the app store.
I’m not alone. There are lots of developers with great apps (and even more with ideas for great apps) sitting on the sidelines because they either can’t or won’t play by Apple’s rules. That’s too bad. These apps would wow you, but you’ll never see them on your iPhone until Apple formally allows side loading of applications onto their devices — without jail-breaking or other work-arounds.
All modern Android devices have NFC built in. With this simple technology we can send files to each other, share pictures and videos, set rules for WiFi and Bluetooth, pay for parking meters, and even buy our lunch.
Apple is missing the boat. The more popular NFC becomes and the longer it takes for Apple to include it in their devices, the more people will defect to other platforms that support it.
Siri may be cute and can respond like a “real person”, but she’s slow. No, really. We’re talking laughably slow. Grab a friend with a Nexus 4, open Google Now, and ask both Siri and Google the same question. Google Now will almost always win — by a long shot. I’ve tried this in person with family members who were proud of their iPhones and showing off what Siri can do. When they see Google Now respond to the same inquiries sometimes ten or 15 seconds before Siri, they’re really impressed with the speed and power of Google — and more than a little disappointed with Siri.
Apple has to speed Siri up so she’s at least as fast as Google. Siri is still more personable than Google, which I think is a strength. Apple needs to make Siri even more “human” with her responses, and able to understand “plain speech” more than Google Now. Siri also needs to take a pro-active role in alerting you to upcoming information, events, or points of interest around you. She needs to become your “best friend”, always at your side to share pertinent information with you. She needs to learn your likes and dislikes, and know when to shut up when you don’t want to be bothered, or when it would be inappropriate to speak up.
There are my 5-things that Apple needs to learn from Android and bake into iOS 7, now it’s your turn. Do you agree with my assessment? Do I have things out of order? Is Apple doing a “good enough” job with iOS to stay ahead of their competition, or do they need to come out with something innovative, fresh, and ground-breaking with the next major release of their mobile OS? If so, what? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!