iOS 7 and renewing the threat of native apps

iOS 7 might be objectified and gamified, but it's also a challenge to every commodity hardware maker and web-based app platform. That, according to Allan Pike:

By hanging up their rich textures in favour of rich effects, Apple has gone well beyond a coat of paint. If people fall in love with this new, beautifully living aesthetic, there will be an argument for building native apps for years yet.

It's an interesting theory. Sort of like the Avengers. Not quite a threat, but a promise. Apple owns native software, and iOS 7 redefines the way native software can work and interact, quite possibly for the next few years. By moving the target that far out, and in a way that's incredibly expensive, it does play to their specific strengths, and the strengths of their integrated model. How long it takes licensed competitors, and web-based competitors, to catch up remains to be seen, however. The acceleration of mobile never fails to amaze.

Pike makes an interesting case, however. Could iOS 7 be a real differentiator for Apple for years to come?

More: Allan Pike via Daring Fireball

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

iOS 7 and renewing the threat of native apps


Pike drastically underestimates the abilities of commodity hardware when he asserts "assholes" will have a hard time replicating these effects. This has been a common refrain; first the A4, then the A5, and now the A7 were supposed to show the clear advantage of the integrated approach. Each time, other platforms have been able to, if not exactly catch up, get within "close enough for Joe Average" distance pretty quickly - within months, rather than the years Pike suggests. Android may not be as buttery as iOS, but that has not itself been a primary market mover, because the extra butter is not a primary sales driver for the majority of the market.

The question is not whether the iOS7 engine/effects are more buttery than commodity hardware can accomplish today - they are. Rather, the question is whether there is enough utility in those effects to make a practical difference in the way people interact with their phones. If so, then yes, Apple could have a differentiator here. If not, it may look nicer for the months until the commodity catch up within "close enough" distance, but it will not move any sales.

Despite how well it runs, one thing that will turn many off is the way that it looks. I know that dislike the way iOS7 looks now. I hope they change the icons and some of the design principles behind their new ui. Overall there are some great changes, but there are also some craptastic changes. Right now for me the craptastic outweighs the great... especially on the iPad.

It's a bit early to conclude that iOS7 is the second coming of the Jesus phone. While some will fawn over it, others may not. Activation Lock is the most exciting thing about it to me. There are certain elements of it that have already been seen elsewhere (Palm cards, anyone?), so to even imply that anyone is going to "copy" anything in iOS7 is a bit of a backward view. The assumption is that the iPhone 5S with iOS7 will be the second coming and sell like hotcakes, and that native app sales explosion will follow. Let's not put the cart before the horse, shall we? The stock price doesn't reflect any premonition of a second coming, for a reason.

All this assumption of what Apple "can" do is obnoxious because Apple has a history of making grand entrances and then sneaking out the back door.

Remember that keynote where they showed how all those amazing 30pin accessories would change everything? The fan sites blew up with ideas but very little (none?) of them actually showed up. Same goes for software like iMovie, Garage Band or iPhoto where people were applauding the amazing software but if you look at the initial product vs todays version then they've failed to mature or get updated. Firewire. Firewire 2. Time Machine. AppleTV Apps. Thunderbolt. Lightning. You can go on and on about Apple's overhyped "game changers". Sure, they all work great and I own most of them, but outside of the imaginations of its super fans then these products rarely advance as fast as they dream.

iOS7 is a passable upgrade but I'm not going to be jumping on the bandwagon until I actually taste the pudding.