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It is important to mention that Mac OS X featured widgets over a decade ago, before smart phones even existed. It was the first commercial operating system to do so. It’s almost amusing that people don’t realize Apple copy themselves. Other operating systems have copied features from OS X, and when Apple moves these features to iOS, some people complain that Apple is copying. They are copying — from the Macintosh.
Apple does borrow from other operating systems, but it’s rarely a direct copy. There is usually an innovative improvement to the existing feature. These complaints are usually rhetorical talking points, absent of factual substance. Many Apple critics don’t use a Mac and demonstrate their ignorance with these accusations. Most of them don’t use Linux either, which is the most customizable operating system. This makes it seem like customization is a talking point, not a desirable feature. If you ask consumers whether they would prefer widgets or killer apps, they’d likely favor the latter. Bloggers might have a different opinion which stems from a divergent motivation — the desire to stir up controversy. Apple makes devices for consumers, not to placate bloggers.
Extensions offer more than just widgets and Swype keyboards. This new architecture allows third-party developers to link and embed their features in other apps. For example, one can add a Bing Translation extension to Safari. It is also possible to add third-party effects and filters to Photos. These embedded extensions can have their own UI, but run within the user interface of another app. This is all done safely, securely and efficiently. This comes at a cost. iOS 8 still has less customization than Android.
I still wonder whether most consumers value customization. After all, how many people use Linux on their desktop? This is probably why customization was never a high priority for Apple and seems to be a hollow talking point for their critics. Apple’s top priority was enabling developers to create quality apps. Unfortunately, the end user doesn’t see the APIs and technologies that enable top quality apps. iOS has the best audio and video production apps, in addition to the best video games. It all depends on what you value. If you prefer customization, iOS is not the best choice. If you want to do a multitrack recording of your band on a mobile device, iOS is a better choice. If you want to play Infinity Blade, it is the only choice. Comedy Central, PBS, and others still only create apps for iOS.
Third-party developers can now use TouchID. This is done securely, as the fingerprint data are stored in the A7 processor’s secure enclave. Expect to see many innovative uses, particularly with payment systems. PayPal has already integrated TouchID into their payment system, which should be launched soon.
HomeKit is another example of how Apple builds the infrastructure enabling developers to create brilliant apps. Home automation is gaining ground these days, but the solutions are so disparate. Every home automation system works with different technologies. Apple has unified this with HomeKit — a system to interact with home automation products in a unified way. HomeKit features Siri integration and the idea of grouping services into “scenes”. So you could tell Siri “get ready for bed” and this will lock doors, turn down the thermostat and close your garage door. (continue…)