Why iOS 6 is more about Apple than new user features

Yes, iOS 6 is all about Apple, and that's okay

We've talked about iOS 6 and it's unusual focus at length already, but it's been in bits and pieces, scattered across a range of articles, and tangential to other points. I think it's valuable to collect it all together, though. Unlike any full point release before it, iOS 6 is more about Apple, their platform, and its future, than it is present user attraction. And it's worth collecting that, exploring why it is, and looking at what it means for iOS users.

At WWDC 2012, Apple senior vice president, Scott Forstall, introduced iOS 6 and showed off 10 of its over 200 new features. The response was decidedly mixed. Many saw it as more tick than tock -- a minor point release rather than a major new OS version that was inattentive to power-user interests, and a sign that Apple was slowing down. And it didn't help that Google's minor point release, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, shown off the very same month, seemed to pack just as much punch as Apple's major new OS version, if not more.

Sure, the low hanging fruit is gone for iOS, but a lot of higher-hanging fruit remains. Yet clearly that's not Apple's focus this year.

This year, there's no iPhone OS 2.0 App Store-level feature addition for iOS. No iOS 5 PC-free/iCloud-level addition either. There's not even an iOS 4 or iPhone OS 3.0 multitasking or cut, copy, and paste-level addition. No new Home screen interfaces or fast app switcher visualizations. No actionable notifications or methods for inter-app communications.

What there is, is all about Apple.

Removing Google's data hooks

Yes, iOS 6 beta 4 removes YouTube app... and that could be a good thing

iOS 6 will excise the Google-powered Maps app from the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, and replace it with an Apple-powered Maps app. It will remove the Google-powered YouTube app, and replace it with nothing. It won't remove Google search, but it will increase Siri's scope, and Siri's ability to intermediate and broker even more search queries away from Google.

That's not a coincidence.

While the exact numbers are hotly debated, it's long been said Google makes more money off iOS than they do off their own Android operating system. The reason for this is simple -- mainstream iOS users tend to use the web and apps more than mainstream Android users, and iOS is currently filled with Google services. The built-in iOS 5 Maps app is powered by Google and provides sponsored search results and a huge amount of location data to Google. The built-in iOS 5 Safari web browser defaults to Google Search, serves Google Search ads, and can provide even more varied types of data. When iOS users use those services, Google makes money and gets more data.

That's Google's business. It doesn't make money when you search its index, it makes money recording your information, aggregating it, and brokering deals for it. Search isn't the product it sells. We are. If Apple steps in and makes the queries on our behalf, and returns them on Google's behalf, Google is cut out of the important parts -- the money.

Apple won't be replacing YouTube with an iCloud Video app (now featuring 100 videos!) any time soon, but they will be making people go to YouTube.com or download a Google-made YouTube app from the App Store when it ships. Both require more from a user than simply seeing and tapping a built-in icon.

Maps and Siri, however, are a different story...

Taking control of iOS location data

Both Apple and Google used to use Skyhook for Wi-Fi router location mapping, and both have now switched to in-house databases. Google used to license map tiles and has since re-mapped the world themselves. Apple has bought 3 mapping data related companies, and with iOS 6, has re-licensed map data from TomTom and created an all new, Google-free iOS Maps app.

That puts Apple, and not Google or anyone else, firmly in the drivers seat when it comes to location on iOS. The current iOS 5 maps are nowhere near as good as the current Android maps. Google, reportedly, wouldn't give Apple turn-by-turn navigation unless Apple also embedded Google's location-tracking Latitude service, which Apple didn't want to do. Likewise, Apple either didn't get, want, or implement Google's better vector maps. (Not only in the built-in Maps app, but in the APIs developers use for embedded maps in App Store apps.) Update after update, Android Maps outpaced iOS Maps.

Now Apple takes the mapping data from TomTom, draws their own vector maps, and supplies or brokers their own mapping services, and makes the app they want to make. Getting to iOS 6 Maps was undoubtedly non-trivial, but now Apple has control of the experience from the moment they acquire the map data to the moment the end user calls it up.

Likewise, Apple reduces Google's access to iOS user location data. As explained above, data is what feeds Google, and now instead of it being the default, Google Maps will be a more involved, more conscious user-action away -- they'll have to rely on us going to a website or downloading an App Store app and independently agreeing to share our locations. Since many users simply use the defaults, that immediately cuts down the size of Google's trough.

Users lose Street View and some other specific features, but gain turn-by-turn navigation and 3D Flyover mode. More importably, Apple keeps control of direct location data, and they can roll out more sophisticated data overlays and surface more user-centric features in future versions.

Intermediating and brokering iOS search

Last year, after Apple announced Siri, I wrote about it's long term, potentially game-changing customer insight implications. Specifically, how Siri wasn't a voice control system, but a powerful, Pixar-coated way For Apple to both intermediate and starve their biggest rival, Google, gain invaluable business intelligence, and broker those services -- and potentially that data -- to a multitude of partners.

Right now, when you search Google, Google gets that data. They know what you're searching for, maybe where you're searching from, and they may even know who you are. Multiply that by hundreds of millions of iOS users, and that lets Google aggregate, analyze, and sell ads against a lot of data.

If, however, you search with Siri, some of those searches aren't even going to Google anymore -- they're going to Yelp!, Yahoo!, Wolfram|Alpha, and others. And when they do go to a provider, all that provider sees is Apple's servers making queries on your behalf. Not you, not your location, and not your identity. Sure, Siri right now still has tremendous problems to overcome, but Apple has tremendous resources to bring to bear on solving them.

And because the interface is the app, Apple can replace more and more of Google's pipes whenever and wherever they want, without users even noticing or caring, as long as the quality of the answer is sufficiently good. Instead of one ginormous provider, Apple can align many best of breed providers for everything from food and entertainment to sports and local business.

Which appears to be exactly what they're doing. If Apple could or would tie Siri into the Spotlight Search interface as well, they could do for text searching what they're doing for voice, further starve Google, and further capture and broker the lucrative search market.

Users lose the known quantity that is Google, and put up with the growing pains that come with Siri, but they gain greater and more varied information sources for natural language search. More importantly, Apple, and not Google, becomes the gatekeeper for search on iOS, and can roll out additional providers and services in the future.

Preparing for mobile payments

One of Apple's biggest advantages when launching the iPhone was iTunes -- not just the content and relationships, but the ability to handle transactions and take payments at a global scale. It's taken -- and is still taking -- years for even their biggest competitors to roll out anything approaching competitive systems, much less match Apple in terms of content available internationally and credit cards on file.

Apple can sell apps and media around the world, but there's a lot more to sell in this world than just apps and media. Apple has already begun to handle direct payments at Apple Retail Stores using the Apple Store app on the iPhone -- you show up, scan your item, and walk right out. Apple likely has far greater plans for that than just a fancy tech demo.

With iOS 6, Apple has also introduced Passbook, billed as way to easily aggregate and use all the vouchers and tickets collected by the various vendor apps on your iPhone, all in one place, and with all the benefits provided by first-party hooks into Apple's location-aware notification system. It can already work with the quaint QRC code system, and it's not hard to imagine that, in the future, it will work with RFID/NFC (near-field communications).

Start putting all the pieces together, and the technology Apple is introducing in iOS 6 sets them up to not only start staking out territory in the multi-billion dollar mobile transaction business of the future, but to do it in the extremely friendly, completely mainstream way Apple has done everything else with the iPhone and iPad.

Users get an interesting if not compelling new Passbook app today, and Apple gets to introduce the front end to what they may one day tie iTunes transactions into an entire mobile payments infrastructure.

Increasing support for Chinese markets

One look at Apple's quarterly earnings reports, and the attention given to the greater China market in the conference calls that follow, should leave no doubt as to how important China is to Apple. iOS 6 reflects that reality.

Users get better Chinese text input and dictionary support, Baidu, YouKu, Tudou, and Sina Weibo support, and Siri in Mandarin and Cantonese. Apple gets a more compelling product offering for the greater Chinese market, which will be huge for their future.

Outsourcing social to Facebook and Twitter

It's interesting that Apple owns the operating system with iOS and the server with iCloud, but they appear happy enough to let Twitter, starting with iOS 5, and Facebook, starting with iOS 6, own the social infrastructure.

Part of it could be Apple's ill-fated attempts at social in the past, most notably the Ping social music network. Part of it could be the lack of persistence social networks have shown to date. Friendster gave way to MySpace gave way to Facebook, and Google+ is at play in there, somewhere, as well. OS X and Windows span decades. Social has been far more migratory.

Apple needs social features, but they don't need to own social features. At least not yet. For now they just have to integrate with whomever has large user populations at any given time, which means Twitter and Facebook.

Users get to share what they're doing, and yes, give Twitter and Facebook the same kind of data Apple doesn't seem to want to give Google, but iOS gets the social features users want without Apple having to provide them.

Perhaps one day Apple will do to Twitter and Facebook what they're doing to Google now (and vice versa). But not today, and probably not for a while.

The bottom line

iPhone OS 1.0 was all about delighting users with a an enthralling multitouch interface and a fresh new take on the smartphone. iPhone OS 2.0 to iOS 4 were about filling in and rounding out features and functionality, and making the iPhone, and later the iPad, an ecosystem. iOS 5 was about taking the iPhone and iPad to the iCloud.

Now that's all done, and for mainstream users -- the users Apple is targeting -- iOS does what they need it to do.

Meanwhile Android and its various device manufacturers are still pushing out new features fast and furiously, yet at the same time they're being forced to go back and work on user experience and consistency, something Apple nailed in iPhone OS 1. webOS has floundered, Windows Phone has yet to find a place in the market, BlackBerry won't even have a shot at a relaunch into early 2012, and the Facebooks and Amazons are still testing the waters.

Apple has a unique opportunity, a unique moment in time, to fix some of the problems they themselves have been facing with iOS, and need to fix to better ensure the future of their platform. Unfortunately, that comes at the expense of user-centric, perhaps even geek-centric features. This time.

In a perfect world, Apple would be able to do everything all at once. We live in the real world of opportunity costs, however, where time and money spent on one thing negates that same time and money being spent on anything else. Even a company as massive as Apple has limits on how much carefully focused software they can project at one time. Sure, there's Do Not Disturb, FaceTime over 3G, VIP mail, Safari image uploads, kiosk-mode, and a few other enhancements, but making a new Maps app was a huge amount of work for Apple, even if replacing one maps app for another doesn't seem like a huge benefit for users. Likewise positioning Siri and Passbook for what comes next.

So iOS 6 is more about Apple and the future of the platform than it is about revolutionary user-facing features today. And that's fine, because a strong platform means more user-facing features for tomorrow...

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 71 comments. Add yours.

icebox93 says:

Translation: Apple has wasted a lot of money and effort with the primary goal of taking money away from google, that does nothing for its own users, instead of doing things that would make the platform more useful and attractive. Unless there's a big surprise coming in September, its the raspberry for Apple.

Rene Ritchie says:

We're getting turn-by-turn where they couldn't come to a deal to provide it with Google. How much else will Apple controlling that part of the package bring us?

agentmobile says:

I agree. I am def looking forward to iOS 6 I think it's gonna finally be everything (just about) that I've been wanting iOS to be. Turn by turn is huge, I love not having to stare at the map the whole time and also the whole idea of "Apple Maps" is awesome I love how Apple is 'keeping it in the family' and not outsourcing services

SockRolid says:

Agree. Apple is steadily, rapidly, moving iOS forward. Sometimes with infrastructure improvements, with UI improvements, and with new built-in apps. And, as we all know, Apple is always thinking ahead of the game. Way ahead. While the rest of the industry is just reacting to what they're doing right now.

liamdaly says:

But isnt turn-by-turn iPhone 4S or later? so other users will be left out in the cold

kch50428 says:

When it comes to Google, THIS: "That's Google's business. It doesn't make money when you search its index, it makes money recording your information, aggregating it, and brokering deals for it. Search isn't the product it sells. We are." -- is what the average non-techie blogger fails to understand. They only know that their apps are free - and they don't care about anything else.

Texan Eskimo says:

So now, instead of Google sharing our info it will be Apple selling our info. I'm not so sure that's good as , at least, Google has the FTC watching their moves. Who's watching Apple with our info now in Their hands?

TavisB says:

The staleness of iOS and the rumors of the upcoming "tall" iPhone have me thinking of going to Andriod for the first time. I doubt I'm the only one.

Macboy74 says:

Funny I know about twelve people that are thinking the same way about android. Just saying.

doublebullout says:

You're not. I won't say iOS has become boring or stale, but I will say that the 6th iteration of iOS and Mountain Lion pretty clearly demonstrates that Apple is determined to keep the UI as simple and intuitive as possible across all of its products. I think it's pretty clear that if geeky power users want advanced features like those available in ICS/JB and WP8, they're just going to have to switch to a different mobile OS. Apple isn't going in that direction. I'll be watching the Nokia announcement on Sep 5 very closely.

SoggyTempura says:

The Nokia announcement on Sept 5 when they are expected to reveal new Windows 8 phones? Or when Nokia and Microsoft might officially announce the pending buyout?

kayno says:

You can go to Android.. You will be back..

iittaalliiaann77 says:

I don't get it. I'm so puzzled as to how all Apple fanatics think the same. How can someone accept Apple's work the last couple years. They have done nothing. Nothing. They bump up specs on their phones and tablets and add little improvements to the OS and people cheer like its the second coming of christ. Look what the competition has to offer compared to Apple. It's a no brainer. The whole smooth transitions and scrolling crap is out the door with Jelly Bean and even before that, how many people really notice that. Let's put it this way...besides us geeks, how many mainstream people that Apple targets really notice or care. iOS 6 should be 5.1 and that is the honest truth. As stated by Rene, this update is all about Apple and nothing about us. That greed will ruin them in the end. Do they think they are going to kill off Google? Google is laughing in their face. They will just come out with stand alone apps that they have full control over and win in other ways. People love YouTube and Google Maps. Hey, Google might trow in free turn by turn and really stick it to Apple. All I have to say is, look how many people have downloaded Chrome since it was released. If people loved Apple's services so much then why did they jump ship. I don't think that a person should have to jailbreak their phone in order to get it to be the way they like. We spent the money on it and we should be able to do what we want to it. It's communism. We live in a democracy and I can do whatever I want to my Android phone and it still runs great. Sorry for my two cents but I used to be an Apple fan boy and still have an iPhone 4 as my second phone, but they have really let me down lately and I don't believe they are on the right track and if they don't get their crap together they will end up like they did in the 80's. The bulk of their revenue comes from the phone and they have become complacent with it. Making it taller but keeping it to look the same is not the answer. That's so 2009.

Rene Ritchie says:

What specific features have Apple's competitors delivered that have leap-frogged iOS to date?

iittaalliiaann77 says:

Well, let's see...LTE, NFC, widgets, live tiles, notification light. Android had notifications first, along with palm. They also have had seamless syncing of Calender and contacts way before iCloud. Motorola has a great app that let's you stream all the content on your PC without having to download it to your phone. Speaking of Motorola...Razr Maxx. Slim phone massive battery. The ability to load different launchers and customize the home screens to no end. Themes. The ability to load any song on your phone and add it as a custom ringer for anything from a text to a call to voicemail...you can do it on iOS but you have to trick iTunes. Android has had free turn by turn and live traffic for years. Video calling over mobile. Voice texting and emails and search. True multitasking. I can keep going. Took Apple OS versions to add copy and paste, MMS, generic multitasking, notifications, custom tones, wallpaper and now finally LTE. I don't want to knock Apple. They are the company that got us to where we are now but they have really slowed down. Android is ahead in the game and look out for Windows and ....maybe Blackberry. Apple might sell more phones to those who want something easy to use. If you want cutting edge technology, you will have to look elsewhere.

Macboy74 says:

I hear you on the LTE, NFC and widgets (which I could care less about). Syncing with calendar and contacts were far from seamless I still have problems to date. All the other things I agree with as well. But they all ran like sh*t and ran in beta forever. Google maps navigation for example came out around the end of 2009 I believe. Didn't get out of beta for a year. Android is on version 4.1 they finally got the os running a little smoother and without any lag, crashes and any other hiccups it had. I say that with a huge grain of salt because my quad core nexus 7 still has the occasional lag and search crash here and there. And apps that aren't compatible with my devices I have. But nothing like my galaxy tab did on honeycomb and ics. All operating systems are going to have good and bad. And being first to the party doesn't mean you are the best. Just ask Blackberry and Palm.

ugahairydawgs says:

That's the thing many seem unable to come to grips with. Most people do want something easy to use. Tinkering and the phone with the best specs will always take a back seat to the average user in favor of familiarity and ecosystem.

And you can argue to the sky is blue about features that Android has that iOS doesn't and how useful they really are. I know a lot of people that gush about widgets. To me, though, widgets are just something on the screen that takes up a lot of space that gives you info you don't necessarily need. It's all in the eye of the beholder.

Iocane Powder says:

Agreed. I know a lot of Android users on different systems that can't navigate their phones to find the features that their platforms rave about. If the average user can't find it and easily use it, then it is useless and undermines their entire experience.

Apple has consistently focused on building a solid, complete experience and not hoarding widgets and gadgets for the coming technical apocalypse. Techies are NEVER satisfied no matter how much control and functionality you supply and are not representative of the population at large.

Texan Eskimo says:

Quote ' a lot ' , 'on different systems' ... let's stay with the Facts, please.

TomW093 says:

I agree with the above points, and would like to add the following: choice. You want an amazing display? HTC One X. Large display? Samsung Galaxy Note (my current phone, and I love it. Don't mind using two hands since most of the time they're both free). Massive battery, physical keyboard, any feature you name, you can find a phone that will fit YOU. Not fit what Google thinks the phone should be. What YOU think the phone should be.

And while some readers will find the different skins to be a negative, I find it to be another positive. There are those that prefer the look and feel of HTC's Sense to Samsung's Touchwiz, and vice versa. And no matter what individual settings or tweaks the manufacturers include, there's still the familiar core of settings and apps. Perhaps most telling is I don't have to root to get the SwiftKey or Chomp SMS (the Android version of BiteSMS).

I've used iOS stock and jailbroken, and Android stock and rooted. While it's true that stock Android is less responsive than stock iOS (note: I've only used up to Ice Cream Sandwich, so Project Butter is not something I've experienced), jailbroken iOS is terrible. There were many times my phone would either reset itself or I would need to reset it because it was frozen. And I still didn't have as many features as I do on stock Android. Right now I have stock Ice Cream Sandwich/Touchwiz dual boot rooted onto my Galaxy Note, and I love it.

On one last note, for those that claim iOS is all about simplicity while Android is confusing to new users, I have this to share: my mother recently upgraded to a cheap $50 Android after barely being able to use her feature phone. While I had to help her along the way, she has been able to do whatever she needs to on her phone. She has the few apps she really wants, and doesn't have any problems. Also, it is a terrible business model for Apple to assume there fan base is too stupid to figure out any features they want to add. If there's one thing I've learned throughout life, it's to never assume someone is too stupid to figure something out. If someone wants to learn how to do something, they'll put in the time and learn.

Taco50 says:

Widgets and live tiles are insignificant, cloud Apple has, customize home screens no one cares, free turn by turn is coming, LTE coming, voice yes we have Siri, you're bringing mms? What does that have to do with today?

You just named a bunch of features Apple has and widgets and home screens which are exciting to teenagers

Texan Eskimo says:

IPhone 4S user here with a new Nexus 7 : WIDGETS ARE FANTASTIC !

zeagus says:

For twenty minutes then you turn them off. Seriously.

tdaniels1981 says:

Besides talk on our phones, what do we do most?

(1) Type
(2) Pinch/Zoom

Apple has perfected #2 and completely neglected #1.
We need better PREDICTIVE TEXT! An investment into the infrastructure of the phone will make our experience much better. Fine, don't give us Swype. It's not needed if we have awesome predictive text! For the love of God Apple, evolve the frakin predictive text already! I wish you would make a bigger deal of this Rene. As a fast typer, i correct almost as much as i type! Ugh! I wish someone would call for a Jailbreak tweak to give us Jelly Bean-like predictive text, maybe even Ice Cream Sandwich-like, hell, i'd even settle for frakin Froyo-level predictive text. Rene, please make an article asking devs to help us out with this! Please! Your voice is loud and reaches far! :-D

zeagus says:

JB predictive text and iOS predictive text are pretty much on par if you ask me.

tdaniels1981 says:

Do u type fast, and with both hands? I do, and it's very frustrating how often I'm correcting myself. On regular keyboards I type 80wpm with 98% accuracy. Androids predictive text predicts words awesomely with just a couple letters typed in, which is more efficient cause u just type the word which makes typing faster. IOS can't add words easily to the dictionary, i've had it not know how to correct my spelling and i was only one letter off. It seriously sucks monkey-balls! :)

dsiiist says:

U dont get , non of u do. The whole point of iOS is fluidity, stability and ease of use, if their new iteration doesnt have those three things then its just not apple. Google adds alot of functions to their and make it open source and stuff but all of these features come at a cost , its either they dnt work as they should or they slow up the os , android has the best hardware spec (at least the high end phones like the galaxy s3 or one x) but yet still lag. I switched from the iPhone 4 to the galaxy s3 and after 2 weeks i returned it and am now wait for the new iPhone. The samsung galaxy s3 although its a quad core phone still isnt as fluid as the iphone 4 which has a single cored 800mz processor. This is why apple has 35% of the phone shares even though it has one phone. iOS 5 is on most of the iphones out there but ics is on 10 % of all the android phones and jelly bean is on 1 phone (fragmentation). Then theres the app store which is till now the best app store ever , trust me i tried google play and its a joke. Apple wont put a feature on there devices if it doesn't work perfectly , it wont put features if they sacrifice the whole experience.

devilash1 says:

Just some facts! Last quarter Apple sold 6% of all smartphones, claimed a revenue share of 48% of the total market and made a neat 76% of the total profit. And people claim Apple is loosing track!!

Personally I prefer the width of the existing iPhone because I carry a second Nokia basic phone, so both would fit my pocket perfectly. I also use my phone with a single hand at times, like in the car and would not be able to use 2 hands. My only grump with the phone is its poor battery life. I otherwise love its interface and usability.

This article is really an eye opener! The direction in which Apple is going is actually remarkable.

Bor15 says:

STOP USING IT IN YOUR CAR!

Texan Eskimo says:

Siri is a half-baked Beta product. We're talking Facts here not Fan loyalty ...
btw, I bought the Nexus 7 and man does this thing Fly !!! re Samsung Galaxy S3...get out o' here !!! My roommate has one and it puts my 4S to Shame, no kidding. That's a Great Phone without doubt. Zero lag (dual core US version). Fantastic look and feel both hardware & software. He put Apex Launcher in it and Wow! That extra RAM makes a HUGE leap over IOS. No wonder Apple is suing them. The '5' better be Dern Better or they've lost a few million users, lol !

pussypounder says:

More Apple apologist bullshit. This update is beyond weak and there's no way to "Pixar-coat" that. Apple used to be so user oriented. Now it feels like they've become the balding, vendetta driven old man. 3D flyover? Utterly useless and masturbatory, unless you're pre-visualizing the helicopter flyover shots of your next big budget film.

Rene Ritchie says:

Which specific market demands is Apple ignoring with this update?

pussypounder says:

I can't speak for the "market," but like many others around here I feel that the lack of street view is a giant step backward. It was practical and actually helpful. Flyover is not an adequate substitute. Seeing the tops of buildings will do nothing to help me find where I need to go. Also, apartment hunting will be a lot more cumbersome without it. And like ittallian said, Apple enthusiasts have become blindly accepting of the most mundane features. Siri will now be able to tell me how tall Lebron James is. That's great, but Google Now in my opinion really shoved Siri even further into worthless novelty territory. Google now is pragmatic and useful. Siri is an empty digital furby that is capable of so little it's amazing. It's merely become a character in their cute commercials. Other than that, just the usual complaints of how stale and bland the OS has remained. I can't wait for my larger screen so I can have more rows of ennui to contemplate.

Taco50 says:

You haven't lost street view because google maps is a web app and is coming to the app store also

Texan Eskimo says:

WRONG ... Apple will not let Any apps into the app store that compete with its core apps. No Google Maps app only web maps. YouTube its another story.

Dev from tipb says:

The loss of transit directions is pretty large to most of my urban-dwelling friends.

iSRS says:

Isn't this an area Apple admits the third parties can do better, and tie into their app?

This is what I hear from the pro and anti Apple camps.

BLAH BLAH BLAH It isn't going to do BLAH BLAH BLAH

99% of the people complaining have yet to use iOS 6, and exactly ZERO of them have used it in it's final form, with the newest (yet to be announced) iPhone.

Until that time (a mere 5-7 weeks if reports are correct), articles like this are highlighting what Apple may be thinking.

And for all the "the past two years has brought nothing" people - when you have that big of a lead? Occasionally you need to take a breath, evaluate, and say "what is going to allow me to progress and innovate in the future? What is going to move my platform to the future?" That is what Apple is doing. Just like 10.7, and 10.8. Not sure if the next OS release will be 10.9 or 11, but 11 IS coming. And when it does, it will only be possible because of the iterative changes to behavior and experience they, as well as the under the hood enhancements, they are making with 10.7, 10.8...

Dev from tipb says:

Yes, Apple admits this...and it may even be true in a couple of cities. But there is no way third parties are going to have coverage as comprehensively as Google, and it is definitely not going to be as convenient to have to register (and, in some cases, pay a subscription) for each new city as it was in iOS5 and earlier, when it was just there, systemwide, immediately. iOS6 is definitely taking a step back from iOS5 in these respects. You can argue it will lead to a better iOS7 Maps, and it might, but iOS6 inarguably has taken away some useful features.

9thWonder says:

that's weird cause when i lived in san francisco all my friends all had buses and trains memorized. Same in New York. And the NYC ones can quote to you exactly what trains you gotta take and were you gotta switch. But they ain't looking at maps cause they already know. Me i didn't have a smart phone then but i never needed it. Plus it wasn't like every single bus stop didn't have a giant transit map on it. i think it's a niche thing for people that don't know the trains and buses. but in my experience that's not the people that actually live in the city cause they know where they are going.

Taco50 says:

Google maps is still available as an app

zeagus says:

More Apple hater bullshit.

NickA says:

All these negative comments sound like Android users waiting for an update. And someone mentioned Jelly Bean. Good luck seeing that on a phone by the end of the year.

Someone else mentioned being able to do anything on their Android phone and having to jailbreak iOS to do similar things. Like what? You can only do so much with a locked boot loader. After that you still have to root.

I'm an Android phone user, but stick with the iPad for my tablet. I guess I'd like to know what the people here who are complaining want Apple to do. The OS is flawless, we already know that. Can you say the same about Android? And when I say Android, I mean Gingerbread. The version the majority of the phones are still on 2.3, with some on 2.2. So all these great Jelly Bean features won't even make it to the market until 2013.

iittaalliiaann77 says:

What was said was that you can customize your home screen to no end and theme it with a launcher and add different widgets or live tiles on windows and the upcoming Blackberry 10. I have an iPhone 4 and it is fluid most of the time but it does get glitchy too and I don't want to even get into the home button not working all the time anymore. How can you say that Apple is not fragmented. The iPhone 4S will be the only phone to get the full version of iOS6. The 4 and 3GS will only get bits and pieces of it. The original iPad won't even get the update and its newer than the 3GS. You are telling me that is not an example of fragmentation? If you want the full iOS6 experience you will have to buy a 4S or 5 just like if you want Jellybean you will have to buy a newer ICS phone or an upcoming Android. Same difference.

Macboy74 says:

Really man? There are new android phones and tablets out right now and coming out next month that will be running ics. I have a iPhone 4 and a sgsIII. My iPhone will run ios6 along with my 3rd gen ipad and my sgsIII will be running ics. Maybe I'll get JB at the beginning of next year. Sad when I just got the phone a few weeks ago. And your complaining about iPhones from 2009 and 2010 won't get the full version of ios6? There are more android phones running android 2.3 out there than anything else. What's the excuse for an android phone that someone just got 6 months ago not getting the new os at all. Hell atleast apple gives you something. Pretty sad. That's why after this SGSIII sells on eBay I will just get Apple iPhones( which I've had since day one) and Google nexus phones. And btw the nexus 7 while having some flaws like the screen separating from the case mild lag and crashing and having to put an app on it to do a simple thing like landscape. It is the best android tablet I've had. And I've had two others that sucked real bad.

TomW093 says:

a) the Galaxy Nexus has Jelly Bean on it. Samsung and HTC have already stated their higher end phones (Galaxy S3, One Series) will get Jelly Bean. Samsung is going to announce a sequel to the Galaxy Note later this month, and there's a good chance it will be released with Jelly Bean.

b) It is better to have a locked boot loader than it is to have a locked OS. Also, it is easier to root than it is to jailbreak.

c) Gingerbread has more features than iOS 6.

jcdaniels says:

I've jailbroken plenty of iOS devices and find it waaaay easier than Rooting an Android device. Especially using a Mac computer.

TomW093 says:

I'm using a Windows laptop, so that may be part of the difference.

Macboy74 says:

Agree. I've rooted all my android devices and there was a lot more to do on them then jail breaking my iPhone.

Dev from tipb says:

I don't think anybody can dispute that iOS6 suffers from a dearth of new user-facing features; that was the whole point of Rene's article. It feels more like a 5.5 to me, rather than a 6.0. In Mac terms, it is a Leopard->Snow Leopard update, at most. What you think of that depends on what you think of Apple, the company.

If you think Apple is acting just to choke out Google, then this is a bad turning point for Apple, where the finally decided to make selfish decisions that would hurt (or at least provide little benefit to) their customers. Apple made similar mistakes in the early 90s, so hopefully they have learned better. If you think Apple is clearing the decks for something better, than this underwhelming release is just a blip that will lead to better things. If that is the case, Apple has to make iOS7 truly jaw-dropping, as two years of relatively lackluster releases is an eon in consumer electronics.

clementmak says:

Seriously guys, how did this turn into an "iOS vs Android" debate again? Honestly I had so many of these debates with my friends that I'm tired of them... Honestly, what's the point of arguing? Everyone thinks differently... Some people like iPhone because of their "easy to use" and apps. And some people like android for their capability for customisation. Nevertheless, people can choose what they want. So what's the point for you to argue? It's not like they are gonna switch from iPhone to android and vice versa because of what you said. Even if they do, how does it benefit you? It's not like you are making money out of it.... 

Macboy74 says:

No agruments here I love them both. I'm what you call a appledroid fanboy.

9thWonder says:

i agree that it's more about apple. I however don't agree that there's no low hanging fruit or any inference that becuase it's for the mainstream (which is me) that there's nothing left to do. but i have been more and more disappointed with apple announcements/product launches. The flip side is the 4s was still my first ios device so it was still an upgrade. but i've followed all the devices and they used to unvield plenty of new programs and features. it seems though now they launch fewer and fewer things. And honestly, i couldn't care less about stuff if it doesn't help me as a users.

like "blah blah blah sdk" is fine, but its not gonna impress me cause i don't use that stuff. It's like launching a new diagnostic car computer that's helps mechanics. I don't really care considering my repair bill is exactly the same. Now if you give it a better engine or interior then yeah that impresses me. But i hope they have stuff under their sleeve but i'd bet it's not much.

I would not be surprised in the slightest if you hear a lot of iphone 5 launch is disappointing talk. Now there's always some of that but from the photos i see the design looks similar, not a ton of consumer additons to the O.S. All that being said i could be wrong, maybe bigger screen, lte, navigation will be enough. But the truth is that's all stuff Android has so the people looking to be wowed like back when jobs launched something that people hadn't really seen before are bound to be disappointed. they'll go yeah great. Already seen it though.

DaniloZL says:

The best article I read today. Congratulations!

JPiLLa says:

I read all these comments and it makes me chuckle because all of the "geeks" want more, more, and more in iOS. What you all fail to realize is that the normal person doesn't give a shit about rooting their phone, customizing the home screen a hundred times, and installing themes. The common person far out numbers the geeks, and Apple understands this and that is why you idiots aren't running the company.

Everyone complains about iOS and what it doesn't do, yet every phone they come out with sells like hot cakes. The new iPhone will be no different. Take it to the bank.

9thWonder says:

true, doesn't really conflict with the article but i agree. i don't care about a thing that you mentioned. i don't want a them, widgits, to root. would like them to add certain features, did like that the made a podcast app (don't like the actual app though lol). But 99% of the geeky stuff i have no interest in.

10twelve says:

Rene - Great article and intriguing insight into why Software companies do what they do. Thanks.

I must say though, I agree with the one one comment about the competitors' offerings. Albeit small, I bragged the other day about being able....one day in the near future...to respond to an incoming call with a Text Response about being busy, on a call etc...only to be told this has long been available on Android.

Bottom line, Apple does a great job making it simple and I really appreciated this further insight. Thanks.

Now, how can we get a Photo Slideshow to play with music from an entire Playlist? Still waiting for Apple to bring this back from the early iPod days.

paleh0rse says:

Ok Rene, be honest... How much did Apple's marketing department pay you guys to publish this? The entire article made me dizzy!

Please don't paint a pile of sh1t gold and try to convince everyone it's jewelry...

Kells2122 says:

I honestly love this article. I'm not a techie and I've got the iPhone 4 and holding out for the 5 in hope for 4G LTE. Out of all the articles I've read, this one was the easiest to understand. I do hope the mapping program isn't too bad and I'm a bit upset about the change in the doc connector being that I would have to re-buy all docking accessories such as clocks. As for iOS 6, don't care about the techie stuff. I've read the comments and agree with the average people. I want simplicity. I don't want to unlock my phone, I don't care about widgets, etc. Other than that, it will still be better than the phone my mother has (Samsung Droid Charge). She HATES it and I hate trying to mess with it. I also like iTunes, so I can't wait. Wonderful article....:)

richard_rsp says:

In my opinion, this feels like a minor upgrade, not a full 6.0. I am an average user, and I have to ask myself: "What am I gaining?"

Turn-by-turn? Already provided by Garmin App (or any other navigation app).
Facebook integration? Somewhat useful, but nothing that isnt already provided by Facebook App...
NFC? Ok, thats possibly useful, but only if I upgrade my device as well. no help for 4 or 4S users.
Facetime over 3G? Don't use it anyway.

My point is, Apple is providing little-to-nothing to average users over what is already being offered via the App infrastructure. Do I (or any other average user) care about if the maps are Apple's or Googles? No. (as a matter of fact, if I DID care, I would want integration where I can look up directions online and send it to my device.. )

Apple seems like they are focusing more on the competition, and I don't know if that is a smart way to keep customers happy.

chris.lenderman says:

Great article Rene. With Apple pushing to remove Google data hooks in iOS 6, I will likely be downloading and using Google's maps app when they release one. I haven't seen it mentioned, but has Apple mentioned any plans on allowing users to choose which apps open upon certain actions? I'd rather weblinks open in Chrome, and location links open in Google Maps.

I know Apple has a ton of people employed who study risk and decide which direction to move...but I'd rather see them focus on continuing to improve user experience, rather than starve a competitor.

Romeo_Striker says:

I don't think they'll do that, at least for the location and browsing app, and exactly for the reasons you mentionned: people(who are not jailbroken) will prefer using chrome and G maps.

And as their strategy seems to be to take people away from Google, it would not help them to allow the choosing.

Romeo_Striker says:

Really good article indeed. Helped me understand the rationale behind Apple's recent moves.

I subscribed to this forum just to say one thing :) :

If you're happy with your iPhone, it's good. i'm not in position to question your choices.
And even if the phone is not out yet, i can understand people saying they'll buy it no matter what. That's because they trust the company.

But to people saying they don't neet all the android stuff (wallpapers, customs ringtones, themes, widgets, etc ...): that's exactly what Apple wants you to think.

I remember when i saw my friends buying early smartphones, when they were all pretty bad, and I was like "I don't need that anyway; my phone calls and texts, that's all I need."
Then I decided to buy my first smartphone (It was an HTC Desire and it was on sale). Today, I can't even imagine going back to a feature phone.
My point is, I didn't need a smartphone, as all I did was calling and texting. And after trying, I was mesmerized.

I've never tried an Apple product, and i'm willing to do it (if someone lends me its iPhone of course, i'm not going to buy for that :p ). Maybe the same thing will happen and I will stick with it.

So the point of this (long) story is : Never close yourself to competitions products. There are a lot of innovations going on there, and you might left behind :)

kayno says:

Lots of great comments on here, its nice to see people who really understand what Apple and iOS is all about. I have owned every iPhone that's been made and even when it lacked features that dumb phones had it was still hard to let go. The user experience was and still remains amazing. I gave android a shot when I was offered a business phone for work, I got the HTC thunderbolt and used it for a few weeks but it didn't last. It’s currently powered off and collecting dust. I have heard excuses about how I should have gotten a Nexus phone and how fragmentation only affects none nexus devices, well non nexus devices are part of the android experience. It’s a shitty one. With Mountain lion, Apple TV, iCloud and iOS 6, Apple has built an unstoppable force of an Ecosystem. The average user thinks owning an iPhone is just about the phone like owning an android device is just about the android device. With Apple it’s about the entire ecosystem, everything working together perfectly, mirroring any of your Apple devices iOS or OS X on your TV, steaming video, music, games or images to your TV from any device, Playing games on your mac against ios devices, texting on your mac or ipad and continuing the convo on your iphone or ipod touch, iCloud keeping your Macs and iOS devices synced. These are experiences that Android can't give you right now. Beyond all that, you can rely on them, the devices and the company. They will always work, mostly.

When Jony Ive said "Apples Goal isn't to make money, it’s to make great products" I wasn't surprised, because I can feel it. I have never been sold an Apple product; I have never been convinced to buy an Apple product. 100% of my purchases of Apple products have been based on how they made me feel when I use them. You can feel the care they put into their products from the materials used, to the design, to the packaging and to the way the actual device functions. There are few things in this world that give me the same feeling that Apple products give me, not even my car as much as I love it. I don't feel the same level of concern from the manufacturers as i feel from Apple. This is something most people will never understand, but when you see lines of people wrapped around several blocks with people of all ages, proffessions, races waiting in line for a mobile device you know there is something special about it.

ananthkv says:

kayno, That's the best comment so far for this article. Completely agree with you!