Does the iPhone’s future depend on an iOS overhaul at WWDC 2016?

Funny thing. I guess my latest collaborative post should have had a “Spoiler alert” tag on it, because if you read my thoughts on what I’d like to see at WWDC, you would have noticed that I talked about this editorial. Specifically, I suggested that iOS was boring and needed a major overhaul. So I started thinking about it; was I right? I’m not so sure, and that brings us to this debate.

iOS has been stuck in quite the rut for years and years (and years and years) now. Its basic grid of icons and up-until-recently awful notification shade have been designed to exacting specifications drawn up by Cupertino, masses and their desires be damned. Lately, Apple has tried to add some additional functionality to iOS, most notably in the adoption of widgets, and the most recent addition – 3D touch. Widgets are a dumpster fire since they only exist in a notification shade and if you have to pull something down to see a widget, you’ve already missed the point. 3D touch is neat, but it’s hard to discover, especially if you have been using iOS for years and aren’t used to something like that.

facebook-ios-3d-touch-780No leg room

But iOS is so wound up in its rigidity that there isn’t a whole lot of room for expansion. The basic grid of icons, while simple to use, doesn’t allow for much creativity when it comes to improvements and keeping up with its main competitor, Android. So you end up with a home button that does several dozen things depending on how hard and how often you press it. And you end up with icons that give you more options if you press them harder. But where do we go from here?

The only way you can really expand iOS’s functionality to meet the demands of the modern consumer is by shaking up the whole thing and adding new elements to the design. I’m not saying Apple has to make iOS more “Androidy” but it needs to do something. Does it need live tiles? Probably not, but something that adds that kind of function would be great. Does it need widgets on the home screen? Well, it needs widgets ~not~ in the notification shade, I can tell you that.

Apple StoreAnd yet…

But we’re not here to talk about potential designs for a new iOS because they probably won’t happen. Apple and iOS have built their reputations on this same design that has iterated year after year. It may be boring, but darn it, it works. And people do love it, so there’s nothing wrong with keeping what it already has. Apple has built in a lot more functionality into this OS, so now is more of a time to refine those changes into something even better than what it is now.

Besides, there is no denying that iOS is a very simple operating system to use. I spoke the other day about the paradox of choice and how having more options ultimately leads to less satisfaction in one’s ultimate choice. Having a grid of icons which is rigid and strict and widgets that are hidden away until you need them isn’t necessarily a bad thing because that is what you are served. As far as Apple is concerned, you can take it or leave it, but it’s betting that you’ll take it.

Doing something right

People have been lining up for this operating system for years. Apple is among the most profitable companies in the world. It didn’t get that way by changing things up on consumers every couple of years. It has just added on to its extremely solid template. And it has seen considerable success with exactly that business model.

But what do you think? Let’s play “Tim Cook for a day” and decide – do you need a whole new design to blow the skirts up on consumers? Or has the old standby, which has been around and succeeding for years now continue to carry your banner for the foreseeable future? It’s not a straight forward question with many subtle layers. So dig deep and decide the best course of action for your version of Apple and let’s see if we can figure this out.

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About The Author
Adam Doud
Adam joined the tech world after watching Jon Rubenstein demo the most epic phone ever at CES 2009. He is webOS enthusiast, Windows Phone fan, and Android skeptic. He loves the outdoors, is an avid Geocacher, Cubs/Blackhawks fan, and family man living in Sweet Home Chicago, where he STILL hosts monthly webOS meetups (Don’t call it a comeback!). He can be found tweeting all things tech as @DeadTechnology, or chi-town sports at @oneminutecubs. Read more about Adam Doud!