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Apple’s problem pinch point – can iOS 17 solve it

We demand and crave something new constantly but can Apple keep up with it?

Apple iOS17 and Apple Services

Is it our fault?

Apple’s WWDC has just come & gone and now for the wait until later this summer when we get to pull apart what was on offer with the latest OS and software updates.

If Apple were for just one year to take their foot off the OS gas there would be outrage. But with that constant demand that we place on them is it any wonder that some years what they deliver falls slightly short of our expectations?

Do we simply ask for too much from Apple?

Its OS time of year

Of course we have come to expect Apple to release a bank of new operating systems at the annual developers conference and this year was no different.

The stars of the show were probably iOS and watchOS. We know that this year the pressure was on as manpower at HQ was scarce due to getting Apple Vision ready for launch at WWDC.

We had heard big things about watchOS in the run-up to the summer event but all we actually got were Smart Stacks, some new watch faces. That’s being a little harsh I know as there were also some improvements to health & fitness, but even so, they were not that exciting.

Again playing devil’s advocate for just a moment what did we really get with iOS 17? Contact Posters, Live Voicemail and improvements to AirDrop and Autocorrect.

CarPlay, TV and iPad all got a lick of paint and some bits and bobs done to them and macOS Sonoma only got interactive widgets and slo-mo screen savers lifted straight from Apple TV.

As much as this sounds as if I am stacking up to take a pop at Apple, actually, I’m not.

Take a breath

I’m not trying to defend the pressure that Apple faces – they are the biggest and best and have the pick of the finest brains working for them.

But that to one side for a moment, just imagine the pressure they are under annually to dream up new toys to please us when they roll up at WWDC to show us the latest OS. Some years it stands to reason that changes will be minor, or like this year generally more lifestyle improvements.

Is it us that are expecting too much from Apple? How would you feel if there was a year’s hiatus on a major OS release and all we got were patches & bug fixes? Would that not give Apple the chance to stand back, breathe and come back with something more meaningful?

We’re getting to a point where hardware and software are so damned good that it’s hard to know what else we should expect from them. Rarely do systems crash or underperform and we already have super useful features such as AirDrop, Handoff and Live Text at our disposal anyway – these are things I use every day and have never been left thinking “If only AirDrop could do this…”

Taking one for the team

So on this point, I’ll throw my hat in the ring to stand up for Apple – asking for meaningful and big improvements year-on-year is nigh on impossible when what we have is already so good & complete.

The OS is only part of it though – some of their software could be improved more regularly. Music and Podcasts are getting some decent improvements this year finally and some could argue features such as crossfading have been too long in coming to Apple’s music player.

This got me thinking how about if our expectations of Apple were a little more realistic. Let’s go to a bi-annual overhaul of OS and then instead focus on making the apps as contemporary and feature-packed as possible.

Maybe there is a way we could be encouraged to give more real-life feedback on how things are working for us and build more of a genuine Apple user community. I’m sure that Final Cut and Logic users would love to see their apps updated more frequently and would doubtless love their voices more readily heard on how these pro apps are performing. If some of the responsibility fell on us to annual develop and improve would that be such a bad thing?

I’m sure when I install iOS 17 and Sonoma later this summer I will find features I love and possibly even uses regularly too, but as of today, I can’t think of one function or feature that I sorely miss. I use my devices pretty heavily each day, and on the whole they deliver.

There is a temptation to always think things were better before – but were they, really? The mind has a habit of disguising & colouring the truth. Macs certainly froze and required re-boots more frequently 5 or 6 years ago. These days the spinning beachball is almost a thing of the past.

The same is generally true of the iPhone as well. Rarely am I forced to restart or reboot my iPhone. Now and the only reason I become frustrated with it is for the lack of signal – which is hardly the fault of Apple.

The transition

With an eye on the bottom line & its future Apple has been equally as focused on services as hardware recently and it makes sense.

With the first release of Apple silicon, they would have known that they were just about to shoot themselves in the foot. The M1 machines are so good that anyone who bought one would probably not even need to think about renewing their Mac for four or five years to come.

So if the only hardware sale they rely on is iPhone then it was time to re-focus and that is just what they’ve been doing.

Apple TV+ has grown from the runt of the streaming litter to a big player which already has an Oscar under its belt. Apple News, Fitness+ and the Apple One Bundle are other examples of how they are subtly shifting their focus to a more sustainable and reliable model.

In 2022 Macs generated $40.18 billion whilst services came in at a whopping $78.13 billion so it’s obvious that subscription-based services make great sense for Apple as it helps to diversify their revenue stream.

The services that Apple offer will only grow too. As spatial computing and Apple Vision take hold, an entirely new ecosystem will evolve offering more opportunities. Doubtless, as those opportunities grow Apple will add value with advertising. Ads are already all over Apple News, so how long until we see them spread to Music, Podcasts, Maps & Books?

Wrapping up

Apple is all about profit and I say that without an agenda.

If Apple doesn’t make money stock markets suffer and families who rely on the salary they earn from them struggle too. Making money should not be seen as a crime.

The global economy benefits from a profitable Apple. If they need screens, USB-C ports and modems made then those ripples are felt wide and far by third-party suppliers.

And if Apple can make a profit from the ‘silent services’ that will leave them freed to work on apps and the OS updates we crave.

Hardware sales will almost inevitably slow. Not only was there a mass upgrade cycle during COVID but Apple added a simultaneous final nail in the coffin with the release of Apple silicon Macs as mentioned.

But as one door closes and buoyed by the financial success of another I’d love to see Apple free to get back to what they have always done best – being creative and innovative.

When Apple gets software and their OS right they are things of beauty. Maybe if we lower our demands and expectations a little for big, annual OS upgrades, in the long run, we’ll all be happier and more satisfied.

I’m not saying wait until it breaks before fixing it but when things are already as good as they are let’s just be realistic of what we are asking for.

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