By Adam Doud | June 27, 2013 7:00 AM
iOS7 was a polarizing update to the second most popular mobile operating system on the planet. The consensus was, you either loved it, or hated it. I myself fell into the latter camp, although “hate” is a pretty strong term in my case. Certainly “critical” would be a more accurate word to use.
Most of the new features are just, I don’t know, not new. There are pages and pages of articles and comments about Apple copying stuff from all over. They’ve been doing it for years. This iteration borrowed more than a few concepts from webOS, Windows Phone and Android. They brought it together in a cute little package, but it just left me wanting more.
The highest form of flattery
Everyone copies though, to some extent. The saying that there’s no such thing an an original idea anymore is more than a little true. Everyone borrows/steals from everyone else, all melting together into their own user experience which is what makes every platform unique. But that’s not what I’m talking about.
Apple has always pushed the envelope when it came to software. Their overall design philosophy has always been simplicity. The famed “grid system” is the very model of this simplicity. And yet, iOS seems to be leaning in the direction of more complicated. Users are wanting more, and faster, and more convenient, because that’s what other operating systems have shown them is possible.
So this latest iteration of iOS follows the same pattern they’ve been following for several iterations now – playing catch up. Frankly, maybe it’s about time. But while Apple’s design paradigm remains the same, grid-based model, their innovation is lacking in many areas. There is scarcely a new feature in iOS7 that wasn’t modeled after something someone else already does, with a small exception or two.
The last “Wow”
Siri was the last thing that Apple really knocked out of the park in terms of wow factor. The personal digital voice assistant that could respond to commands and even sported a good sense of humor was Apple’s last feature that made anyone decide on the spot “That makes me want an iPhone.” Air drops, cards, and pretty pastels do little to make a compelling operating system.
And to me the most infuriating part of all this was that Apple pulled developers off of other projects to work on…what? A new shade of pink? A new font? This is not “wow”, people. This is fluff and gimmicks. This is not what we need from a company that grabbed the smartphone industry by the short hairs and yanked it forward into a new age of data and information technology. What we need is….wait for it….the next big thing…. Oh no he didn’t. Oh yes he did.
Maybe Samsung really is the next big thing. Maybe air view and air glide and air biscuits are the “wows” we should look forward to. Maybe Apple is just too simple now for the modern user. Sure, they have a snappy control center now. My mom has a snappy control center. Oh but look, look at the pretty 3D-ness! “Meh,” I say. And again I say “MEH!”
Did Apple die with Steve Jobs? Did Metallica die with Cliff Burton? We already know the answer to one of those (spoiler alert: yes) but the other one remains up in the air. Can Jony and Timmy and Eddy and Craig and the boys in Cupertino manage another wow for us sometime in the future? Not in this product cycle. Can they really blow us away with the next iPhone 5S or whatever? I doubt it. Hardware is pretty blah these days. Thin, light, chrome-looking-even-though-it’s-not-chrome. Rinse. Repeat.
Software innovation is what’s really sexy these days. Samsung’s got a lot of it. Much of it doesn’t work as well as advertised, but at least it’s there. Apple would never pack half-baked software into their OS, and Samsung shoudln’t either. But darn it at least they’re trying. They didn’t come at us with yesterday’s innovations and a color palette that looks like Martha Stewart’s vomit.
Lesser of two evils
I don’t know what’s better. Half-baked innovation or fully integrated boredom? It’s a tough choice. On the one hand, you applaud Apple because they have proven time and again that when the full iOS 7 is released it will be done and it will work well (*cough* *cough* Maps *cough*). Samsung on the other hand has proven many times that they are willing to throw everything against the wall – hardware and software – to see what sticks. Then they’ll finish the good stuff in a later release. Right now, I have to say I’m more wowed by what Samsung has brought to the table the last two generations that Apple. And that’s a shame, because Apple is supposed to have one more thing. Now it seems they need that “one more thing” just to keep up with the next big thing.