What does iOS 7 mean for the future of Windows Phone?
Now that it’s all said and done, we know iOS 7 is pretty light on new features. Siri has a few new parlor tricks; Control Center now allows users to quickly toggle settings without navigating to the Settings app; Notification Center sports a less cluttered, more useful interface; multitasking is smart and learns which apps you use most; and Safari handles tabs better than ever.
And, yes, we have a few complaints about the update – like how it’s still closed down and, despite the giant app ecosystem, doesn’t allow third-party sharing or user-defined default apps.
Feature-light or not, we’re left wondering: with its new look, will iOS 7 affect Windows Phone and other budding platforms?
As if we hadn’t made it clear already, iOS has been pretty dull for some time. Of all the mobile platforms – new and existing – until today, iOS has aged the worst and was quite easily the most boring platform to use. That’s the side effect of a slow, incremental update cycle.
The plus side is exactly what we all (or at least most of us) experienced today – a large boom of excitement after a long, drawn-out lull. And that’s exactly why this update could negatively impact the growth of mobile platforms struggling to gain traction, like Windows Phone.
Over the years, iOS had grown stale. The so-called “wall of icons” was uninspired, too simplistic, boring, and in dire need of a face-lift. This left Windows Phone and Android’s rapidly updated and highly customizable interface(s) to answer to the needs of everyone in search of a modern UI.
Did the aging iOS interface stand in the way of new users? No. And if so, only for a very small percentage of users who cared. But a long-overdue, much-needed, visually stunning interface certainly is definitely not going to hurt sales or the adoption rate, especially once iOS 7 lands on new hardware this fall. Going into the holiday season, Apple will not only be armed to the teeth with new hardware, it will have a fresh operating system to boot.
And even if it is the most popular mobile platform in the world, Android isn’t for everyone. For some, it’s simply too complicated and packed with useless features they’ll never need. Some people want something that simply works without needing to mod and tweak settings for days on end for it to work as it should.
Unfortunately, in the current market, consumers looking for a more simple mobile experience really only have two options: Windows Phone or iOS.
Before today, if you were after a fresh UI, there was only one option. Period. Windows Phone. Although the app selection is paltry in comparison, the typography is beautiful and the tiled Metro UI is unique and refreshing. If you can deal with the shortage of apps (or second-rate, third-party alternatives for everything) and don’t rely on a ton of non-Microsoft services, such as Google Drive or Google+, the switch to Windows Phone is much easier and practical than it was just a year ago.
But after iOS 7 is released, there will be even fewer reasons to recommend Windows Phone.
Now Windows Phone is the only mobile platform with an older UI. It’s not very old – only two-and-a-half years. But as refreshing as Metro is, the newness wears off in a matter of days, as shortcomings of the OS begin to appear, such as a lack of proper notification aggregation or even a quick way to toggle settings without exiting the current app.
It was designed with efficiency in mind, to “save us from our phones”, which was a marketing tactic that didn’t exactly meet expectations. It was a tactic that came with an unfortunate side-effect: a phone that was slightly boring to use. An operating system that is designed to keep you from using your phone all the time (to save you from your phone), is meant to be somewhat uninteresting … by design.
It’s a tactic that hasn’t really worked, and it’s something Microsoft should seriously take time to reevaluate. Two-and-a-half years in, and Windows Phone has only managed to acquire 3.2 percent global smartphone market share. And while its steadily growing, we’re left wondering if a fresh iOS will impede some of those potential Windows Phone sales.
There is a flip side, of course. If iOS users don’t like the radical changes and rainbow-esque interface, they have only two legitimate options for an alternative: Android or Windows Phone. And if they’re looking to keep it simple, Windows Phone could seriously benefit from Apple’s sudden, drastic changes.
It’s something we’ll all be watching closely as fall nears. We’d all love for Windows Phone to officially become the third major ecosystem, but not at the expense of iOS. And we’d certainly hate for Windows Phone to suffer even more at the successes of the new iOS.
Only fall will tell …
Tell us in the comments below how you think iOS will impact Windows Phone, readers!