Apple does an amazing job at hyping up their products. They really know how to put together a demo that shows off their hard work – even if they won’t let you watch it in any browser except Safari. It’s understandable, predictable even, that the Cupertino giant would use this event to remind the world that they also make a browser (with 3.7% market penetration). Encoding their video into other formats is a simple enough task; but Apple would prefer to promote all of their products in every possible way to their fanboys. After all, not playing well with others was a contributing factor to how Apple won the war against flash.
At this year’s glitchy announcement, Tim Cook said this would be “… the biggest advancement in the history of iPhone.” Nice way to tee up two new larger phones, Tim. The new sizes were hardly a surprise – other manufacturers make phones in many sizes much smaller and bigger than Apple’s current selection – still, I’m glad to see Apple diversifying their offerings. Clearly Apple is trying to keep up with the one-size doesn’t fit all trend.
As with last year’s 5c, Apple’s release of two new sizes for the world’s most coveted smartphone further exemplifies that mobile devices have become a commodity. Although the smartphone patent wars rage on – people are looking for something simple – a piece of metal on a piece of glass that connects to the internet. People are looking for something in their preferred size – from small screen smartphones to phablets like the Samsung Note or the new iPhone 6 Plus. Displays get larger, pixels get denser, and chips get more transistors. So what, who cares?
Here’s why I think your new iPhone doesn’t matter.
8 “new” features for iOS 8 you can get without the iPhone 6
It’s not the poptart-sized device that matters anymore. It’s the applications and experiences that live on top of the technology. Besides better battery life hardware really doesn’t matter, it’s just a means to an end.
“Finally, you can move files between Apple devices!” That was the claim when they introduced AirDrop into iOS 7 last year. The problem: it didn’t work between operating systems. You couldn’t record a video on your iPhone and edit it on your iMac. Now Apple has fixed that.
Portability between devices is one of the hallmarks of the Apple ecosystem. This is a great advancement, but not exactly new.
2. Actionable Notifications
So your boss asks you an important question via text message and you get it while you’re in a meeting. Now you can reply without actually going into the messages app and disrupting your flow (‘cause surely you were taking notes in that meeting, right?).
This feature makes so much sense that Android rolled it out two years ago, at least if you installed an app or modded your install. Again, in this case, your iPhone 6 hasn’t offered the world anything new.
3. Predictive Text and Third Party Keyboards
That’s right, your new iPhone can finally predict your next word… just like T9 on your Motorola StarTac from 2002. Although, I am hopeful that Apple will make that core OS feature better than the other examples I’ve cited.
4. Battery Usage Indicator
Mashable reported this as the #1 feature of iOS 8. Maybe that’s because battery life is a common plague among all smartphone users. At least now you can be informed how fast your battery is being drained by those “actionable” notifications and keeping all of your antennas turned on.
Do I even have to mention that this rudimentary feature has been around on Android, Windows Phone, and even Symbian FOREVER?
5. Timer Mode
Yes – now there are native timers for the iPhone camera! Hopefully your friends will get even craftier with their selfies now that they can prop the phone up on something and use the timer to get just the right amount of ducklips.
Prior the iOS 8 and the iPhone 6 you had to rely on any of the 412 “camera timer” apps that are available in the app store.
6. Unsubscribing from Group Texts
You can finally get yourself out of those endless late night chat rooms. You know what I’m talking about.
Another great reason to appreciate the most recent iOS updated even if you’re not ready to upgrade to the iPhone 6 yet.
7. Accidental Selfie Feature
Be extra careful with the new camera shortcuts inside of iMessage.
Congratulations Apple. You’ve just released your first possibly NSFW feature, and a few more bugs.
8. Smarter Siri
Now you can wake up Siri by saying, “Hey Siri”. That sounds impressive, but she’s actually just going to run a Google search for you. “OK Google” has been doing the same thing on my Nexus 5 for over a year. At least there are promises of an even better Siri experience since now that she can communicate with third-party apps.
Maybe the (eventual) smarter Siri will be able to compete with the promises of Microsoft’s Cortana.
It’s about the experience, not the hardware
I won’t deny that Apple, and Jony Ive, have made a serious impact on the world. They have certainly helped spearhead a modern day industrial revolution that is fueled by a symbiotic relationship between humans and technology. I just think they’re being overshadowed by the rest of the technological ecosystem. Software developers push hardware manufacturers to make more powerful chips. New hardware enables software developers to create cooler and more personalized experiences. The mobile app space is now a $25 billion dollar a year industry.
Mobile technology is enabling brand new experiences and empowering young tech-savvy activists in oppressive countries. While I appreciate the advancements that Apple is making with the core OS, Metal, and their A8 chips, it’s the apps and games that keep us hooked on mobile devices, not the device itself. After all, those same apps and games (especially the important ones) are being reimagined to provide an optimal experience on any device. Apple requires stringent iOSuman Interface Guidelines while Google is pushing toward Material Design.
According to The U.S. Mobile App Report by Comscore, mobile app usage has increased by 52% in the past year. However that usage is relegated to familiar apps; with less than 35% of people downloading 1 or more new apps month-over-month.
After spending the past four days setting up my new iPhone 6… I think that stat is right on the money. I’ve made four phone calls and sent about 20 text messages, meanwhile my homescreen is filling up with nearly 40 downloaded apps. Now that I’ve successfully set up my new phone with all of the apps I had on my Google Nexus 5, I doubt I’ll download many new apps but I’ll still spend too much time looking at Instagram and not enough time calling my grandma.
Whether you live squarely in the Apple camp or can’t live without your Android… today’s mobile devices are so advanced that you can have an amazing experience no matter which side of the fence you’re on. All major phone manufacturers and operating system are offering the same core features: phone calls, text messages, internet browser, a wide selection of apps, and the ability to sync your data with other devices. And, that’s why your new iPhone 6 doesn’t matter.