Yesterday was the golden day that every user with an iOS device has waited for, speculated, and assumed to be the future of the platform they’ve invested time and money in. And why not? iOS is still one of the top mobile operating systems on the market and in America, it still garners far more high end smart phone revenue than Windows Phone and Android. So, what did the good folks at Cupertino give those users salivating for news on the next mobile operating system? The answer is an evolution of services. Or, if you don’t like that answer, you can use mine of playing catch up with the competition. Read on to find out why it’s a game of catch up and why Windows Phone users should be rightfully pissed.
One of the first updates that Apple showcased was Siri, the plucky ol’ assistant that was integrated in iOS 5. In my time with the iPhone 4s, I found myself loathing Siri, and it isn’t because of the idea. Anyone who has used other mobile operating systems knows that several features are extant on a lot of the major players. And while Siri has a personality over the others, for fundamental tasks (like opening up apps via voice, finding restaurants near an address, or in general finding a place that sells a certain item), Siri fails. And it fails bad. But ‘lo and behold, one of the first major updates comes to Siri including: iPad support, car manufacture support, the ability to open applications installed via the application name and a few other features. To this I say kudos Apple because it puts iOS 6 on par with Android and Microsoft offerings.
However, there are a few things that disappointed me with the Siri-ous update. For one thing, I have no idea if I can still find restaurants if I am away from my GPS location which can be a minor contrivance for those of us that like to plan ahead. Perhaps the major bummer is that there is no announcement of the Siri API for developers. Talk about a wasted opportunity to see some really impressive apps that can use the Siri service. Granted, iOS is making close partnerships with car manufacturers, it would’ve been nice to see the api available to developers.
In addition to Siri, iOS announced Passbook. Passbook is a service that stores and saves tickets (assumedly airline apps, boarding passes and such) in a neat hub-like environment. To me, that is a good idea, and it is one I’ve seen on Windows Phone Mango that never came to be. For Microsoft Windows Phone, that is a missed opportunity that I almost expected on Mango especially seeing that it was tested by Joe Belfiore for so long. It makes one wonder where that integration went.
The people at Cupertino also made some massive updates to the photo stream app in which a user can make separate photo streams that are easily shared with whoever you wish. In addition to that sharing, the users in which you’ve invited cna comment and like photos native in iOS. But it makes you wonder, how is that possible? How can iOS do that unless…
iOS 6 has facebook integration, and it does. Much like iOS 5 brought users native twitter integration to iOS 5, iOS 6 brings similar native function to facebook. So the ability to post status messages, images, and several other facebook doo dads without the use of the third party facebook app is now a reality for iOS users. More on this in a bit.
Let’s not forget that the Apple vs. Google battle is getting quite bitter for both sides, leading iOS to kick out the Google maps service for an in house service powered by TomTom. Perhaps bigger than Siri, the mapping system stole the show because it provides users with turn by turn navigation, traffic info, and Flyover. Flyover is super huge in that the reproduction of cities aren’t flat or picturesque as in other mapping solutions, but they are recreations of the cities in 3D (think of it like the Sims games). Albeit, it looks impressive, but also looks to be available only to users in the United States (though hopefully it is opened internationally).
Finally, iOS6 brings improvements in mail and facetime. For the mail app, users have the ability to have multiple e-mail signatures and VIP mailboxes in which you can keep up with your important people. The messages will be automatically categorized in the VIP mailbox right under the default mail inbox. For facetime, well its finally over a cell network. A well needed choice.
Sadly, that’s about it to be said of iOS. And yet, there are several changes to the operating system, the changes are not those that we haven’t seen before. The one criticism that many Windows Phone users have is the Facebook integration, which steals one of the largest selling points to Windows Phone. On the one hand, I can empathize and agree with the sentiment. How dare the cads steal “our” saving grace?
Steal is an ugly way to describe what Apple has done for a variety of reasons. For one thing, since Android Froyo (and probably before, someone please correct me), Facebook integration has been in the Android operating system. And amazingly, before Android Froyo, HTC Windows Mobile devices integrated facebook services on their last generation devices (specifically the HTC HD2). Let’s be frank, in one way or another, there has been the famed Facebook integration either as an add-on to an operating system or fundamentally native in the operating system. What is a criticism to all platforms is that the Facebook integration is absolutely the same. No opportunity to like a status message, share photos in the dedicated people app, and a myriad of other features (like checking your private messages). And yet, when you look at Windows Phone, the DNA is there to tie in all of those services. Sadly, it’s not been executed by Microsoft for whatever reason. Similarly, things can be said for almost every single update iOS 6 brings save from Siri and maps.
Which begs to question, if Microsoft has the “code” to do the great things and also present a very cohesive product, why should Windows Phone users be pissed at all? For one thing, it’s the update debacle. Let’s be frank, at this stage in the game. The Windows Phone market share is floundering between 5-10% (and that’s being extremely generous) due to the addition of Mango devices. And yet, Microsoft may not allow those devices to update to get a full Apollo experience, where iOS6 is coming to the iPhone 3GS? Criticism aside that the experience is a bit janky, it is still the iOS6 operating system in some glory to a device that is about three years old. Apple settled the FUD regarding update options on its phones, why can’t Windows Phone?
Secondly, there are a lot of arguments concerning the services iOS 6 offers as an evolutionary update. On an app level, there are enough changes to notice several different bumps in usability and speed. Considering the feature level is where Windows users should be pissed. Let’s be frank, a lot of the evolution that iOS 6 has is on other platforms. We know that. But it is the fact that Microsoft saves absolutely nothing for its own platform that should upset users. Kinectimals? iOS. SmartGlass? Open to all. And a myriad of other things. The competition is capitalizing on features that can only be found on their operating systems. What does Windows Phone have?
Am I impressed with the iOS 6 update? No. Was it revolutionary? No. Was it evolutionary? Yes it was. Should Windows Phone users be upset? Yes. iOS users know which devices are going to be updated (with a few surprises), there are enough changes to keep people satisfied, and the robust updates are somewhat of a big deal. Much like similar writings on this subject, I will say this yet again. Microsoft, get your act together. It’s time to wow us or bow out of the mobile space. Ball is in your court.