Photo: Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
The Apple backlash is in full swing right now.But it really started this summer.
In our office, the people who review gadgets started grumbling that iOS was stale. These grumbles were crystallized in Farhad Manjoo’s story for Slate titled, “The iPhone is Boring.”
Manjoo wrote, “Apple’s mobile platform used to be unquestionably the best smartphone operating system on the planet. Now it feels just as good as everything else.”
When the iPhone 5 came out, Manjoo was singing a different tune, saying, the “iPhone 5 is a Miracle,” but it was largely based on how great the hardware is.
His original point stands. Apple’s software is getting stale.
In his review of the iPhone 5, Joshua Topolsky had his harshest criticism about Apple’s mobile software, writing:
“Don’t get me wrong, iOS is a beautiful and well-structured mobile operating system — but it’s begun to show its age. It feels less useful to me today than it did a couple of years ago, especially in the face of increasingly sophisticated competition. I always have this sense now in iOS of not knowing where I am, what my status is — constantly having to load things and reload them. It feels tiring.”
And this week, Kontra, a blogger focused on Apple and design wrote about iOS: “Apple software — especially its self-declared future, iOS — needs some serious overhaul both in aesthetics and experience, and far more in the latter department.”
The good news for Manjoo, Topolsky, Kontra, the people in our office let down by iOS, and really anyone feeling let down by Apple, is that all signs point to 2013 being a big year for Apple and software.
Think about what has happened to Apple since September.
On the product side, it released a new iPhone, a new iPad, an iPad Mini, a new iMac, new iPods, and a new laptop, the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display.
On the executive side, there was a major shuffle, with Scott Forstall, the former leader of iOS pushed out. In his place, Craig Federighi with take over iOS, in addition to OSX. Jony Ive, who previously led hardware design will lead the look and feel of Apple’s software.
In the press release announcing the moves, Apple titled its release, “Apple Announces Changes to Increase Collaboration Across Hardware, Software & Services.” Astute Apple blogger John Gruber believes that’s the plain truth. Apple made the executive changes so Apple’s various divisions would work more closely.
Forstall was said to be a divisive figure who didn’t play nice with everyone else. By removing him, all the divisions can work together more easily.
On Twitter, Sammy The Walrus IV notes, “Logic (if there is such a thing) would point to 2013 being all about iOS with only minor changes to Apple hardware.”
The hardware has all been refreshed. Unless Apple releases a TV, which is possible, we’re not expecting much on that end. This frees up Apple and its new executive system to target the stale and in some ways broken software that’s only been incrementally upgrading for the last few years.
Of course, with any big change, comes big risks. Look at what happened with Maps. Apple’s executives could start tinkering with iOS and ruin it. But, at this point that’s a chance Apple has to take. If iOS continues at its current trajectory it will be passed by Android in the software department sooner than later.
It’s not sexy for investors who want to see big beautiful hardware that gets people waiting overnight in big lines. But for the future of Apple it’s just as important.
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