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Where can Apple go from here?

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Where can Apple go from here?

With WWDC21 wrapped up, we saw all of Apple’s new operating systems, and what they were bringing to the table, like SwiftUI 3. I was thinking this question for a while now, but: what and where exactly can Apple go from here in terms of software? Let me explain.

iOS 15

Apple’s fifteenth annual release of the software for iPhones and iPod touch (and previously iPads) was announced, and brought new features to help you focus, a better weather app, new Maps, privacy enhancements and cool ML-based features like Live Text. It’s not much to be entirely honest, but that’s because the iPhone is already mature. At it’s core, the iPhone is a phone with a large touchscreen display, and there is a limited amount of things you can do with it.

While the earlier versions of iOS brought huge changes that we can’t live without, like multitasking, the Control Center, iCloud, and so much more — the latest releases have not brought changes that were as revolutionary as before. Apart from split-screen and an always-on display, I do not think there is much else in the roadmap for iOS, other than maybe an icon refresh.

watchOS 8

watchOS 8 was an even smaller release, bringing a slight update with just TWO new watch faces (seriously, Apple?), and a redesigned Mindfullness app. The Apple Watch is also mature, more than the iPhone, and the only things Apple could add in my opinion are third-party watch faces (highly unlikely) and more health metrics.

tvOS 15

I would say with 100% certainty, that the Apple TV is the most mature, basically an adult, if you will, of the Apple ecosystem. They added some SharePlay features and that’s about it. Apple doesn’t even feature the tvOS page on apple.com anymore. The App Store has certainly not thrived as well as Apple would have hoped, with most apps just being the streaming service platform for each respective company (Disney+, Netflix, HBO Max etc.).

macOS 12 Monterey

macOS 12 added Universal Control, Shortcuts, Focus, and not too much other than that. The Mac has existed for 20 years already, and desktop operating systems have not changed much since around 2017. macOS is also around the fully mature phase, and I wouldn’t expect much from macOS 13 or 14 if I were you.

iPadOS 15

This is the operating system which was most ripe for change. Except, what did Apple do? Mostly nothing. Windowing was not implemented. The Files app is still garbage. No pro apps except for Swift Playgrounds 4 (which itself is not full-fat Xcode). No Menu Bar. No Mac app support. The M1 chip is the equivalent of a Tesla, but limited to 25 miles per hour. It has the guts to achieve super fast performance, but the software hinders it by a metric ton.

Unless COVID messed up some plans to bring the iPad more up to snuff as a “real” computer replacement, it’s clear to see that Apple views the iPad more as a companion to the Mac, not something that can be used as an alternative to it. If this is indeed the case, Apple has truly limited options as to what it can add to the iPad that won’t cannibalize sales from the Mac.

So, the big question: where can Apple go from here?

I don’t think this comes as a surprise to many of the readers of Apple Scoop, but Apple is preparing for the next era of computing, which is augmented reality. What form that arrive in is anybody’s guess, but Apple is best suited to introduce a mind-blowing product in this space because it has the ecosystem and the integration of features to make a cohesive product, and it can count on developers who quickly take up new APIs.

Mark Gurman (reliability: 84.38%), a Bloomberg reporter of Apple who usually is accurate, wrote in March of this year that Apple is planning to announce a mixed-reality headset in-person in the “next several months”. If we take that as meaning around 9 months, it could mean the event will take place approximately in the winter of this year, or early spring of next year.

Meanwhile, according to Mark the AR “glasses” are still in a prototyping stage, so we shouldn’t see that for a while. iOS 15 gives us a hint to Apple’s AR future, especially Live Text. Kara Swisher (New York Times) asked Tim Cook if AR was a “critically important” part of Apple’s future, with Tim responding with “It is.”

Many people think Apple has lost all of it’s innovation and is quickly becoming just another giant tech company, similar to HP and Dell. I don’t think so. Let’s say the Apple Glasses or iGlasses or whatever it will be called releases in say… 2028. By then, the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac will be fully mature, and people will start to get bored with the current technology, and waiting for the next big thing.

If so, the Glasses would take full advantage of the 4 platforms with the iPhone providing processing power and connectivity, the Apple Watch providing it health features and accurate input and interfacing of the UI, and the iPad and Mac giving it a whole new way to work and play, such as virtual floating monitors.

I think Apple’s big plan for the future is waiting for their current products to become a little stagnant, then leverage the ecosystem to accelerate the Glasses with the 4 platforms making them more useful than ever. Then when it’s ready, ditch the legacy devices and become fully independent.

What do you guys think? Feel free to leave comments below.

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