PHOENIX – Ask an Apple fanboy and they’ll probably tell you this week’s annoucement about Apple iOS 6 was revolutionary. Ask an Android fanboy and they’ll probably tell you Apple is playing catch-up. I think the truth actually lies somewhere in the middle.
This week, Apple laid out many of the key features that will be showcased in the next version of iOS 6 when it is released this fall. iOS 6 is the software behind iPhone, iPod Touch and the iPad. Apple has an entire page listing some of the changes, have a look . The biggest changes include:
- A complete re-do of the maps app. Apple is no longer using Google Maps, it has built its own app including (FINALLY) turn-by-turn navigation.
- An improved Siri including sports, restaurants and movies. Siri will also now be available on the new iPad.
- Facebook integration. Apple integrated Twitter with iOS 5 and has finally sorted out its differences with Facebook to add a similar feature in iOS 6.
- Facetime will now work over cell connections as well as Wi-Fi. Previously the service was limited to Wi-Fi only.
The way I look at it, the smartphone world is a lot different than it was in 2007 when the first iPhone was launched. Then, most of what Apple was doing was revolutionary. The company single handedly changed what people expected from a smartphone. Now, Android has a fast growing market share and is adding features as fast as Apple and in some cases, faster.
Sure, there is some catch-up going on. Google has offered turn-by-turn navigation as part of Google Maps for a while. It’s included on most Andriod phones. Apple has been stuck on the Google Maps app that launched 5 years ago (with some minor changes here and there). Facebook sharing has been integrated into Android since the beginning. Android is built to allow any app to integrate their sharing service without Google having to add it. Facetime over cellular is great but Skype has been doing it for years on both iOS and Android.
As for Siri, it doesn’t matter… yet. It will, but for now it doesn’t. It’s not good enough and I have a hard time finding any iPhone 4s owner who actually uses it on a regular basis besides Samuel L. Jackson . It’s fun to show your friends but isn’t reliable enough in real life. Someday it will change the way we use our phones. That day has not come yet.
While I just pointed out some of the catch-up that is happening, let me point out why it’s different than other companies. When Apple does something, they typically do it right and with some flair. Their map app does turn-by-turn by also does helicopter flyovers! The navigation looks slick and it seems Apple has done a solid job with this app.
Facebook sharing on Android is there but it’s not always pretty. It essentially sends you to the Facebook App with the information that you want to share. Apple has built deep Facebook integration. The interface and experience will be the same no matter what app you are sharing from. This creates a great user experience. This is what Apple is all about. I expect Android to play some catch-up with this if Facebook is willing to play nice.
Facetime may just now be coming to cellular but it’s all about experience. Facetime on Wi-Fi is the absolute best video calling service I have ever used (and I’ve tried almost all of them). It simply works and works really well. Apple refused to allow it to be used on cell networks until the company could guarantee it would work well. I commend them for that. I haven’t tested it out yet on a cell network so I hope they figured out a way to keep the quality up. If you haven’t tried Facetime over Wi-Fi, you should. It makes you wonder why people use Skype on their smartphones.
In the end, there is some catch-up happening here and there is some innovation. I expect to see a few more features added to iOS 6 before its official release later this year. With increased competition from Google, the pressure is on more than ever before to figure out what the next “must have” feature is. I can’t wait to see it.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.