Over the years, Apple has faced fierce competition from Microsoft, IBM and in recent years, Google. While at this point, Apple’s built in user base ensures success, they have made more than a few questionable choices of late.
The biggest issue most have with modern Apple is the seeming constant release of “more of the same”. While Microsoft and Google compete with unique, never before seen things, Apple has given the impression of complacency over the past 5 years.
So, the question is, can Apple compete from here on in, or are they relevant only to their established (and in that case, bound to dwindle) established user base? Perhaps the recent WWDC can shed some light on that question.
More OS X?
Yep! One of the bigger announcements at this recent WWDC was the newest build of OS X, 10.11 “El Capitan”.
On top of finally bucking the trend of naming their OS X builds after random feline breeds, El Capitan does actually seem to bring new ideas to the table. Integrating some of iOS’ app management and gesture features, it looks like Apple’s taking a page out of Microsoft’s book, and drawing inspiration from Windows 8.
Frankly, while this is the biggest change made to OS X since its inception, this may be cause for concern, given how well those mobile-oriented components went over with PC users with the previously mentioned Windows 8.
Siri that Works
While iOS 9 doesn’t really bring much visible to the table that its previous incarnation hadn’t pioneered. However, very welcome improvements to Siri were announced, such as context awareness. This means that Siri will be able to detect running apps, elements on screen and web content in order to interact better, and allow users to work with more complex commands and tasks.
Gone, sadly, will be a large source of internet comedy once provided by a context-free Siri offering inappropriate or ironically wrong suggestions or results.
Apple has also stated that an API called “breadcrumbs” will be available to encourage third party developers to design Siri-friendly applications, furthering the power and usefulness of Siri.
Same iOS, sure. But a better Siri sounds serious, and competing technology such as Robin are still too new to compete with this.
Competing with PayPal?
Of course one of the more controversial and original announcements this year was Apple Pay, a PayPal/Google Checkout competitor. Launching with it are buyable Pinterest pins which can be purchased with Apple Pay, as well as forthcoming readers from Square equally compatible.
A possible boon to this admittedly quixotic notion is the forthcoming initial launch in the UK, where various financial infrastructures and transit systems will offer direct compatibility with it out the gate. Still, while it’s a sign Apple’s thinking outside the box like the good old days … good luck competing with PayPal?
Apple Maps – A Second Chance
Apple Maps made headlines a couple of years ago not only for being bold enough to try to compete with the universally-adopted Google Maps, but also for the broken directions it provided, and its melted landscapes in street/3D mode.
After plenty of time fixing the algorithms, display systems and logic which caused this hilarious but unfortunate set of bugs, Apple’s map system is back with a vengeance.
Planned for near future release is an augmented reality system which will carry over Apple devices such as the iPhone and iPad, using Maps as a backbone and platform.
This concept has been proven to work by experiments with Google maps and other devices in the past, and with the standardization between Apple Maps and Apple devices may lead to the first really marketable augmented reality applications.
That is to say, it may lead to this if the waning interest in AR by consumers does a turn around.
Finally, a Use for Swift
This is probably the more interesting announcement. Swift kits may in fact finally be useful for something beyond hobbyist curiosity.
Swift 2.0, specifically in the home kit variety, opens the gateway to “smart house” technology (also called IOT). Integrating (supposedly) with the smart watch technology, the new Swift kits will be able to integrate with security systems, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, smart lighting and any other network-ready home comforts from cooperating providers like ADT and Honeywell.
Wearing Watches Again?
It’s become a bit of a joke that the time between 2005 and 2015 was the “glorious time in which our wrists were free” as smartphones replaced the need for wristwatches. Smart watches such as Apple’s, however, challenge that notion.
Apple’s watch OS is set to offer a unique style of interface, and apparently the ability to run applications directly on the watch. Last year, it was stated that you could only run the apps on the iPhone or iPad, and stream to the watch via battery-sucking Bluetooth. While I’m skeptical about the real need for smart watches, their parallels in classic sci-fi alone makes it worth pursuit.
Facing the Music
Finally, we come to Apple Music, a long-awaited departure from the ancient and horrible iTunes. Looking so much like Pandora or Spotify, this innovative music and video streaming system offers to bring Apple users into the modern media consumption society at long last.
It seems Apple is competing at long last, though at this stage, a lot of it seems like a game of catch up. Of course, that has to be done before Apple can push forward, right?