Oct 10, 2015
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Brian kicked things off by admitting that although he loves Apple products (going so far as to have @iSocialFanz as his social handle across platforms with the “i” being a nod to Apple) he also loves Android. So he has field tested a wide array mobile devices and can speak somewhat objectively about their pros and cons. He is also an Apple beta tester.
“Windows kept me employed, Apple kept me happy,” Brian said of his time working in cybersecurity. He had always found Apple’s software to deliver on functionality and fun. Unfortunately, he says that the iOS 9 beta version was far and away the worst operating system he has dealt with. It was buggy and unreliable, contrary to most of his previous experiences. He says he’s been seeing a decline in quality in Apple’s recent software releases, even outside of beta. He hopes this isn’t tied to Apple’s new leadership.
I happen to think iOS 9 is the best Apple operating system yet but prior to this update I’ve had to replace both hardware and software due to malfunction. I’m curious to know what our community thinks about this so I’d love it if you’d tweet us and let us know. I also think the QA process seemed to be better in the Steve Jobs days than it is now. And I wonder if pressure from competitors and Wall Street is causing Apple to try to innovate and produce too quickly. And if not, then why is Apple now putting out products that have problems?
Brian says that Tim Cook has done an amazing job of being accessible and visible as a CEO and that’s good for Apple. But is Apple adding features to benefit the customer or are they adding features as a means of keeping up with competitors like Android? What’s the result? Does the end user need an iPad Mini with updated cameras at every turn? Not necessarily. Innovation isn’t always about reinventing the wheel.
Is Apple Really Innovating?
I wonder what comes next. What will the iPhone 7 be? Apple has made strides or mini-innovations with things like the new glass on the iPhone. I spend so much time texting and tweeting on my phone these days I fear I’ll end up with carpel tunnel syndrome. I spend more time on my mobile than I do on my desktop. With that in mind, maybe better speech to text capabilities would be most helpful? But challenges still exist. I’d love to see batteries that can be swapped out, for example.
The Apple Store experience, on the other hand, is more innovative. Brian mentions that he uses his phone to conduct business while in store and that’s very convenient. He talks about the Apple experience and in-store is part of that. In addition, the product you paid for is there when you open the box (and you don’t need a chainsaw to get through the packaging). Apple is doing a better job with this than many others including Google. But Brian and I agree that all of these businesses could improve our experience tremendously with one essential thing: better battery life.
Apple is notorious for minimalistic design. You don’t see lots of extra slots or gadgets on an iPhone. They keep it simple and that does ultimately help eliminate human error. But now some phones have two full pages of preloaded apps when you purchase them. Many of the apps are native and can’t be removed. So even though most phones have a lot of built in memory today, native apps are draining resources right out of the gate. I see an opportunity for Apple to improve here.
Apps Are Key to Mobile UX
Speaking of apps, the rapid updates to iOS are putting a lot of pressure on app developers to keep pace. Apps are a critical part of the smartphone experience and when the iOS is updated, it impacts the user experience if the apps don’t function well. This is costly for both app developers and end users. Pacing iOS updates might help both.
Brian’s opinion is that most mobile apps could use improvement. They can be buggy and limited. But as iOS and hardware updates roll out, there can be a benefit to the UX of apps themselves. He also thinks Apple TV is doing good things for both users and developers.
A member of the community asks, “Has Apple really ruined what innovation looks like?” We expect a lot from Apple and, generally speaking, they keep delivering. Brian took a good look at one of his old iPhones recently and he struggled to even use it because the newer models have such different, improved functionality. My opinion is that in spite of any bugs or down sides to Apple products, there’s no alternative that will work for me.
Is Apple “Smart” to Look at Cars?
I read recently that Apple is going to be moving into the car industry. I ask Brian why he thinks they might want to do this. His answer is that cars are the essence of mobility and Apple is already heavily into the mobility business, so this is an extension that makes sense. He wonders if Apple will become something other than Apple – something larger and more encompassing of different verticals within consumer technology. What will the smart car really be? We might not want driverless cars but smart features could be a real benefit. I’d be really happy if car technology could improve people’s driving tendencies. Imagine if the act of merging lanes could be done more safely by all?
Should Apple be looking at partnering with companies that are already exploring smart car technology rather than starting from the ground up on their own? I could see Tesla powered by Apple, for instance. Such a partnership might enable the development to occur more quickly. But as long as Apple’s focus is on improving customer experience I think they’ll do fine. If they take their focus away from that, problems are likely. Consumers, a loyal and engaged community, are the reason for Apple’s success.