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Analysis: Apple launches total war against Android

updated 09:09 am EDT, Tue June 3, 2014

WWDC 2014 saw Apple unveil an arsenal of weapons to combat Android

Apple's WWDC 2014 could well be the most important statement of intent it has ever made. Without a single new device on show, Apple has launched its biggest assault on Android yet. The scope and breadth of innovation and software development on show was breathtaking and shows that Apple has a crystal clear vision of where it is headed and how it wants to get there. It used numerous statistics to emphasise its numerical advantages over Google's Android platform, while bringing the full weight of its creative power to bear. It unleashed a wave of unprecedented software innovation in the stunning new Mac OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 that was then driven home with the announcement it has developed a brand new computing language, Swift, for developing iOS apps.

Although Apple has been publicly quiet on the hardware front, yesterday's Keynote clearly shows that the company has been anything but idle. Last year its software developers amazed with rapid pace of development in transitioning from iOS 6 to the completely redesigned iOS 7 in under 12 months - not only was it redesigned, but Apple simultaneously re-compiled iOS 7 as fully 64-bit mobile operating system. As impressive as that was, what we saw unveiled at WWDC 2014 shows that Apple has the resources to blow away the competition through single-minded determination and sheer hard work. It also should help to remove any lingering doubts about the ability for Apple to continue to lead the tech industry in both software and hardware innovation for the foreseeable future. Tim Cook has clearly marshalled his troops with military precision to execute the three decisive blows represented in Mac OS X Yosemite, iOS 8 and Swift.

As I wrote yesterday ahead of WWDC, Apple's post-PC paradigm is all about making personal computing more personal than ever before. Its announcements around health, home automation, while hugely significant, were almost swamped by a vast array of other software-related feature enhancements to both Mac OS X and iOS. One of the most interesting developments was the new level of integration between its Macs and iOS devices delivered through 'Continuity.' While it was widely anticipated that Mac OS X would continue to pick up more iOS-themed design cues, new capabilities like AirDrop compatibility between Macs and iOS devices, automatic tethering, iMessage integration and the ability to take phone and make phone calls via your iPhone on the Mac make the attraction of going all-Apple all the more enticing. iCloud is playing an increasingly integral role in Apple's plans, and the addition of iCloud Drive only serves to further strengthen Apple's software and hardware product portfolio.

HealthKit and HomeKit extend the iOS platform and iOS devices further into people's lives, making the iPhone more useful and indispensable than ever in improving the quality of our digital lifestyles. Each of these platforms have tremendous potential, and given the massive success of Apple's other MFI programs, it seems highly likely that third-party software and hardware developers will be very keen to get on board increasing the 'stickiness' of the platform. Both third-party hardware and software developers will be able to take advantage of over 4,000 brand new APIs in iOS 8 that will serve to drive third-party innovation further than ever before. When users are looking for the best accessories and devices to complement their smartphones, the iPhone third-party accessory ecosystem will only look even more appealing than it already does. The new levels of integration between iOS devices and the Mac will also serve to make Mac users who own an Android phone to strongly consider switching back to the iPhone. The only piece of the puzzle that is missing is an iPhone with a larger display, which when combined with all the advancements in Mac OS X and iOS 8 make Apple's value proposition compelling.

Among the slew of software announcements Apple made in its two-hour long presentation included an upgraded Notification Center in Mac OS X that now incorporates widgets, Spotlight enhancements with web searches notably powered by Microsoft's Bing, massive speed improvements to Safari along with other tweaks. Major improvements coming in iOS 8 include a hands-free, voice-activated Siri, predictive typing functionality called QuickType, actionable Notifications, Messages upgrades include self-destructing messages along with asynchronous audio and video functions with an all-new Photos app with highly sophisticated, but simple to use photo enhancement features. Apple is also making extensibility a major feature of iOS 8 allowing developers to let their apps (with user permission) interact with other apps. This will, for example, allow you to access photo filters from your favorite apps within the Photo app. A feature that I have long been waiting for, thanks to extensibility in iOS 8, is the ability for users to select third-part keyboard extensions. A range of other features were also added to iOS 8 that Apple didn't highlight yesterday, including Wi-Fi calling and battery usage meters by app among others, but leave no doubt that it is wholly committed to driving growth through ongoing innovation.

As has been previously highlighted, Apple profit share from the mobile market far outweighs its percentage share as it operates in the high-profit, high-end segment of the market. Apple highlighted a number of impressive stats and facts that show just how healthy the iOS platform is. While Macs defied the downward slide in PC industry trends by seeing an uptick in sales of 12 percent, and now enjoys and installed user base comprising of 80 million Macs, this is nothing compared with the staggering success of iOS device sales since 2007. There are now over 800 million iOS users with 90 percent of the install base running iOS 7. This compares with just 9 percent adoption of Android 4.4 KitKat. As Apple was only too happy to point out, not only does this make iOS more attractive for developers, but it is also indicative of the fact that the minority of Android users enjoy the latest features, or the latest security enhancements. Furthermore, 98 percent of the Fortune 500 companies now uses iOS devices.

The speed of software development revealed at WWDC 2014 shows that, under the leadership of Apple CEO Tim Cook, Apple is doing anything but stagnating. Although hardware announcements have been relatively thin so far in 2014, the stunning Mac Pro that finally landed in late 2013 is a perfect illustration of Apple's ongoing commitment to continually pushing the envelope of hardware design as well. Sure, it would have been great if Apple had released a larger iPhone last year, which seems to be one area where Apple naysayers seem to have gained some traction. However, Tim Cook has never ruled out building an iPhone with a larger screen. The combination of display technology, chip technology and battery technology had to meet Apple's expectations before it committed to such a device. Even though there were no new hardware announcements at WWDC 14, it is likely that the wait will soon be over when both Mac OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 launch this fall.

If Samsung and Google felt at all like they have won the mobile war because of the high rate of adoption of Android, they might be thinking again after this powerhouse display of Apple's software development skills. Apple has demonstrated that it will not yield on any front. It has clearly committed all of its available resources to move the company forward in a way that I suspect would have made the late and great Steve Jobs extremely proud. As Jobs said when resigning as CEO in 2011, "I believe Apple's brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it." After seeing Apple's outstanding WWDC 2014 Keynote, I have absolutely no doubt that Steve Jobs was right.

By Sanjiv Sathiah



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. rexray

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 07-15-02

    I have to agree. After seeing the WWDC presentation, I was impressed with the amount of work Apple has done on both the Mac and iOS operating systems, as well as on the back-end development front. Combined with what will no doubt continue to be excellent hardware design, Apple is continuing to create technology that is highly functional and elegant to use. Apple is showing that it understands that the way to deal with stiff competition is to create products against which it will be a challenge to compete.

  1. Alfiejr

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-09-08

    Agree with this post's headline - but the writer's long laundry list of new iOS/OS X features didn't really get to the crux of the matter:

    - Apple finally added its own versions of the most popular features of Android that iOS previously lacked, taking that advantage away from Google.
    - Apple is taking every opportunity, especially its newly prominent Spotlight search, to make using Google search unnecessary for common everyday needs, incorporating strategic connections with Wikipedia, Yelp, and even Microsoft (furthering this strategy which began with the iOS Maps app over a year ago).
    - Apple greatly reinforced the consumer "stickiness" of its ever-expanding Apple ecosystem, ensuring it will remain much harder to switch from iOS to Android than vice-versa just to save a few hundred $'s, and further reinforcing the "halo" effect of iOS that boosts all Apple products.
    - All the new iOS (and OSX) software tools for developers will result in a burst of new/much improved apps later this year that will be a big hit with consumers. just about every current app will get some useful enhancement, and virtual world game graphics will get a "wow!" upgrade (which Google can't match until Android gets 64 bit power).

    Apple is offering consumers an ecosystem that is even smoother, more seamless, simpler - and safer - than before. Except for Google's own excellent but limited cloud services (at the cost of your privacy), Android simply can't do any of that - that is the downside of its "openness."

  1. stenniz5556

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 03-16-13

    Samsung will announce today that it is doing this also, and cheaper! Duh!

  1. slapppy

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 03-23-08

    Samsung announces "We will copy everything Apple announced" Google announces "ditto"

  1. Jeronimo2000

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-20-01

    Ok, so Sanjiv really really wants a job with Apple PR. We get it. :)

    "The scope and breadth of innovation and software development on show was breathtaking" - oh please. Yes, they did announce some cool stuff. And yes, the whole "Continuity" thing is a clever move. But the ugly truth is that Apple is now in a position where they have to play catch-up with Android, at least in terms of features. And their approach is in most cases neither innovative nor breathtaking, just plain derivative. Apple copied some of Android, some third party apps, and to some degree they copied their older self. Which brings me to:

    "It unleashed a wave of unprecedented software innovation" – only that this "wave" was, in fact, precedented:

    – The new Spotlight in Yosemite? A mix of "Alfred", a great free app from the Mac App Store, and good old "Sherlock" from the Mac OS 8 days.

    – The swipe gestures in iOS Mail? Swiped right from the "Mailbox" app.

    – Sending SMS (not iMessages) straight from your Mac? You could do that right from Address Book way back in 10.4, it was dropped with Leopard. Since then, there are apps like "SMS sender" or "myPhoneDesktop" that did the same thing.

    – Making calls from your Mac via your iPhone? Apps like "Dialogue", "Phone Amego" or "Connect" let you do that already.

    – Drawing on images or PDFs to be sent by Mail? Try "Skitch".

    – Predictive text input and custom keyboards? On Android for ages, same as replying to messages and mails straight from the lock screen.

    – Easier group messaging, including the ability to send audio and Video messages? WhatsApp et al.

    – Emailing large files easily via cloud storage? Another rip-off from another alternative mail client, this time "Postbox".


    Don't get me wrong: I like what I saw yesterday, I think there's a lot of great stuff there (Swift looks awesome). But most of it was overdue, and I just can't get myself to get ecstatic over something that is basically history repeating itself. The elderly among you might remember System 7.5, when Apple just knicked a bunch of shareware and stuffed it into the OS. I see some similarities here. This is not the "full weight of its creative power" - this is Apple reacting instead of leading.

  1. GW5555

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-06-12

    First, Swift is for BOTH iOS and Mac OS X development. It will open the door for many new developers to create with a much shorter learning curve. It also will promote iOS specific development.

    Second, while many features may not be new or unique, Apple has NEVER been concerned with being first, just being best. If the demos are accurate, it looks like they have done their traditionally great job of implementation.

    Third. And, while there were many features added to bring the "out of the box" status on par with what was out there through 3-party apps and elsewhere, there were MANY features introduced that definitely qualified as new and exciting and warranted the decryption of "full weight of its creative power," such as Handoff, HomeKit, Extensibility (while not a new idea, there is NO other implementation that does so with any level of security, let alone what we have come to expect from Apple) Under the hood improvements that end users will benefit from but never understand will elevate the platform. Metal will be huge for gaming, and Healthkit will consolidate, organize, and provide a great level of control over the use of individual's medical information.

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