Apple is living in a new world in 2013. Some loyalists have crossed the border to Android running atop Samsung's Galaxy S III. Others have moved to a similarly functional OS via the HTC Windows Phone 8X. Yet, some stay loyal to Apple and their products. But no matter your opinion of Apple or their products, the exorbitant influx of doubt is a rising tide.
So, how long can fruits float when forgotten at sea?
Some remain complacent and rest on their deep faith in everything Apple. "They'll make the next one better." "I don't need NFC." "Android is too complicated." "iPhone's are the best phones because they were first." Lately, Apple has multiplied attention, subtracted loyalists, added minor features to their aging hardware and software, and divided the amount of viable alternatives to iOS down to one.
That alternative is Android.
Google's Android is a chameleon, ever-changing and evolving to perpetuate functions we might not know we need, and incorporating them into everything iOS is not. And as compared to iOS, Android's main advantage is in variety. Any hardware manufacturer can differentiate the baseline Android software into their own by adding true features atop different hardware and software fronts.
Yet, like a bad dream, Apple isn't responding. I keep waking to the same products and mentality. The same icon grid. The same home button. The same colors. And I want to be surprised and happy with what Apple has done with the mobile computing industry, but I can't be.
In 2013, I will not settle or sympathize for an outdated, overstated, underdeveloped, and outrageous marketing tactic thrown at me. Enough is enough.
In order for Apple to regain my trust as an unbiased fan of all things in the mobile realm, here are three things Apple can do as a unit to impress me.
Update iOS and change the experience
And make it magical.
It's not terribly understated when someone looks at an iPhone or iPad and thinks "wow, this is so easy to use and navigate." The problem with this thought-process is we are no longer in 2007. The year Apple announced the first iPhone running iOS 1.0, the world was turned upside-down. Nearly 6.5-years later and iOS remains largely unchanged. Is it okay that Apple has only added "features" when it deemed necessary?
I'm sorry, but it's not. I have very little faith left in iOS and it's upsetting. Look no further than multitasking which seems almost second nature to any other operating system. Compare that experience to Android's implementation of true multitasking, or even Windows Phone 8's version and it's clear Apple still has some work to do.
A few things are going to have to happen to iOS for me to acknowledge it's viability as an alternative in the mobile operating system penthouse.
First, shortcuts on the lockscreen which allow easy access to any application would be a welcomed edition. There are many times when you need to get in and out of your iPhone without unlocking it and launching the app. Give us the option to get to it from the lockscreen, please.
Secondly, iOS needs something to let us utilize the iPad to its full potential. Look no further than Samsung's multi-window feature on the Galaxy Note II. I am thoroughly unimpressed by iOS on an iPad due to the wasted space, and underdeveloped usability of those extra 5.7-inches.
I'd also like to see a more intrusive Siri that helps me like its competitor, Google Now. Her uselessness is becoming an apparent gimmick in comparison. Siri's adversary has a list of features that is unparalleled. I'd like to see Siri do the following: email and event reminders, news, public alerts, traffic updates via location, and local reviews.
Another feature Apple can add to iOS that will largely influence my previous recommendation is an update to the homescreen. It's no secret that the homescreen is iOS's greatest strength and weakness. It's uninhibited simplicity is iconic…and extremely boring. Take your pick from this list of features that can be added in one context or another to the homescreen: tiles, widgets, images atop the wallpaper, icon-resizing, home screen carousel, and jailbreak swipe gestures.
Get out of your comfort zone and update the hardware once and for all
Apple products are renowned for Jonathan Ive's designs. It's no stretch of the imagination to say that Ive's role with Apple is a lifeline. But my million dollar question is: can he change the designs of his products without a large refresh of iOS?
I don't think so.
For instance, the home button serves a vital role in how iOS is navigated on any Apple device. Without it, there would be no way to get back to that iconic homescreen. The iPhone faces the most hurdles in adapting to any significant hardware change. Even the speaker grills, volume and hold buttons, and headphone jack are placed in a way that does not negate the manufacturing of the device. And I'm not going to tell them to put those antennas too close to each other; that could cause reception issues.
One thing Apple should have added with the launch of the iPhone 5 was NFC. Near field communication is a set of standards which allow devices to establish radio communication to each other. When connected, devices can share pictures and videos.
However, the main reason we need the next iPhone to have NFC on-board is to get an industry standard in motion. Contactless payment systems are here to stay. With a simple tap of your phone at the grocery store, you can transmit credit or debit card information directly from your account to the store, like you would with traditional plastic. Apple needs to adopt NFC to standardize the process and set guidelines for the mobile industry. Due to Apple's widely accepted standards of use, they're the only hope in moving our future towards truly contactless payments into a reality.
Another needed addition is durability. The past few months I've touched on HTC, Samsung, and Sony's approach to hardware durability in the face of adversity. But it wouldn't be a party without Apple. Let's see dust and waterproofing IP55 and IP57 labels on the next iPhone. Rubber edges to deter damage in a freefall. Glossy plastic to hide scuffs and aging. Less aluminum. Less glass. I guess I'm really asking for a completely different looking iPhone.
Apple needs to calm down and face reality
If in 2007 you had told me that there was going to be a phone that had a 3.5-inch screen, I would have laughed at you. "There's no way I need that." "It's too big to carry around." "It doesn't sound like it will catch on with consumers."
And here we are. Just a few short years later and the iPhone is an icon in the mobile industry. It's the epitome of a dream brought to reality by a man with a vision. An unenforced, unconscionable dream that paid no mind to doubters and naysayers encountered over the 25-years in Steve Jobs' life.
We believed in the product a few years ago. It was revolutionary. Even Magical.
Where does this leave the Apple of today? Well, competition has left them in a rut. No, they're not going under. Investors will continue to back whatever device they concoct. They'll adhere to Apple's beliefs that their products are truly "magical." For lack of a better word, Apple is safe for the indefinite future of computing.
But there's a problem in the mentality of what Apple has pitched to consumers. It is borderline irresponsible to let your followers belittle and deface competing innovations if it is not stamped with the famed "partially bitten fruit" around the backside.
Innovation is a highway. You either follow the traffic and take your exit towards one path, or you keep going. Onwards and upwards, as they say. On the contrary, I believe many Apple loyalists do not see Apple products as competition to the likes of the HTC One's and Samsung Galaxy S IV's of the future.
Because you can't change true Apple loyalists. Believing in a company and dedicating your life to it is one thing if you're Steve Jobs, but writing-off NFC, on-screen keys, gestures, or whatever else that wasn't "innovated" by the Cupertino company is despicable. In 2013, I'd like to see Apple acknowledge competition as just as innovative as what they devise in their next wave of products. It's a stretch, but if this happens, maybe Apple's followers will smell what BlackBerry, Google, and Microsoft are brewin'.
Then again, it's never easy arguing with a teenage mentality.
That's all, folks. What do you think Apple needs to do in 2013 to stay relevant? Do you think their time is up? What features would be truly magical in the next iPhone or iPad? Let me know what you believe in the comments below.
Image via Apple.