On mobile

Marco Arment made some great points on the state of iOS 7 but had an urge to make something clear.

Great points by @marcoarment on the state of iOS. If you don’t get why, watch “Building user interfaces for iOS 7” marco.org/2013/06/11/fer…

The disruption has happened already

It all started in June 29, 2007 when the original iPhone was introduced. At the time when people were using their smartphones to make phone calls, send text, take photos, listen to music.

It’s not that mobile phones weren’t well equipped. They were relatively advanced. Bluetooth, GPRS, GPS, back camera, front facing camera, large storage; you name it.

Mobile phones had split per-so-nalities and the Internet was something you would “go to”. Phones were merely a window to the Internet rather than being part of it. The main (ref?) business was selling ringtones; a profitable business none the less. In their pursuit to expand market share, companies had lost focus. Developers weren’t really looking.

On October 17th, 2007 Steve Jobs announced ^1 the forthcoming availability of the iOS SDK. The following WWDC the App Store was introduced and in July, 2008 it was released changing the face of mobile as we knew it.

The iPhone transcends each individual SDK

Since then, Apple has invested heavily in the iOS SDK. Each year a new version is released with a new set of APIs. Collectively they make iOS and what the iPhone is today. Even though each version deserves its own release, to focus on a single feature set is short sighted in my opinion.

2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Cocoa Touch CoreData AirPlay Core Image Social Framework
AV Foundation MapKit AirPrint Twitter Pass Kit
CoreAudio GameKit Local Notifications CoreBluetooth Reminders
CoreLocation Event Kit Newsstand UI State Preservation
Accelerometer Core Motion Auto Layout
CoreAnimation Data Protection
Quartz 2D Core Telephony$

iOS SDK Release History

Looking back through the lifespan of the iPhone, Foursquare was released in 2009 and Instagram on October 6th, 2010. Both looked past a feature set on what was possible with mobile and ended up disrupting local recommendations and image sharing respectively. Don’t expect Foursquare or Instagram to even budge with the release of iOS 7.

iOS 7 is worth it, but only as much

Indeed the App Store is crowded with almost a million apps. Big players like Facebook, Google (Google+), Yahoo! (Flickr), Amazon and ebay, along with many small ones. But even though they are on mobile, the extent to which they utilise it is poor. The main reason they are there in the first place is the large user base present which will only grow. Apple touted half a billion users. That’s a number you cannot ignore.

With the arrival of iOS 7 this fall, Apple’s marketing team will surely promote apps that elevate the new feature set, satisfying the thirst of people buying the new iPhone and those upgrading to the latest iOS. You should do well to be on that wave and get a free ride by Apple. A big opportunity indeed. But that’s about it.

Mobile begs for some innovation

To treat mobile as just another platform, mirroring existing services, porting established ideas or looking for a category to fill is not innovative.

Mobile is the pinnacle of personal computing. People carry them around spending a great deal of time. Even though mobile users have become familiar with tapping, swiping, pinching and are comfortable enough to share their location and photos, as an industry we still have a lot to learn and have barely scratched the surface of what’s possible in mobile computing.

^1 Even though Steve was reluctant initially.

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